You’re ready to take the next step in your journey and establish your dental career in Canada. Now the question is, “how do I become a dentist in Canada?”. The road to practicing dentistry in Canada is admittedly not an easy one but is ultimately very rewarding.
There are 3 routes available that lead to becoming a dentist in Canada. There is the option to attend a Canadian university as an undergraduate or if you are an internationally-trained dentist, you can either go through the NDEB process or take the university route by applying to a bridging program.
Let’s explore each route in further detail:
Admission and application requirements for dental school vary from one institution to another. As such, it is important to contact the respective dental school admissions office to determine specific admission requirements. As part of the admission process, most Canadian dental schools require Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) scores which are administered by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA).
There are a variety of dental schools across Canada to choose from, which include:
On average, the cost of obtaining a 4-year undergraduate dental degree can vary from CAD 50,000 to CAD 200,000 if you are a domestic student and up to CAD 360,000 for international students. Tuition fees typically include both academic, non-academic and dental instrument fees. However, tuition fees do vary for universities so it is best to do your research before filling out an application.
It’s important to know that registration for the DAT is not an application into dental school but a step towards getting your foot in the door.
Don’t be afraid to schedule a call with an advisor and find out what exactly they’re looking for in candidates (such as extracurriculars) and return your completed application according to the instructions given by the school(s) you are applying to.
To begin the process with the National Dental Examination Board (NDEB), you have to apply to be accepted into the Canadian Dentistry Equivalency Process. As long as you have a recognized degree, you should be accepted. Please remember to give the NDEB a bit of time to accept your application as there are delays to the application process due to COVID-19.
The first exam after getting accepted is the AFK (Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge). After you pass this exam you have two options: continue the equivalency process and take ACJ (Assessment of Clinical Judgment) and ACS (Assessment of Clinical Skills) or apply to a Canadian University and do a two-year bridging program (more on this option below). You are allowed three attempts for each exam to get a passing grade.
After you’ve completed the equivalency process you will need to take the board exams (OSCE & Written) in order to get your licence to start practicing in Canada.
The NDEB route costs approximately CAD 50,000 including course and exam fees. This can increase depending on how many attempts you need to pass. Here is a typical breakdown of the fees to expect when taking the NDEB route:
*All prices are in CAD and reflect the fees at the time this post was written (October 2020). For the latest updates for NDEB exam fees, please visit the NDEB’s website.
At Prep Doctors, we provide courses that help students prepare for each exam administered by the NDEB. Our courses consist of a range of different materials and components, such as comprehensive mock exams, detailed textbooks and extensive lectures.
Find more information about our courses, including registration dates, here:
Once you have completed the NDEB’s AFK exam, you have the option to enroll in a specialized bridging program, offered by Canadian universities. These programs are designed to bridge the gap between international and Canadian dental training.
Bridging programs are held over five to six months and after successful completion of the program, students can enroll directly into the third year of a four-year Doctor of Dental Surgery Program (DDS). Overall, the program can take 2-2.5 years to complete.
Bridging programs are intended for those who have graduated from an educational program that is not recognized by The Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC).
If you’re looking to take a bridging course, there are some general qualifications that most Canadian universities require:
– Have completed a minimum four-year University dental program, not recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC).
– A relatively strong GPA (each university has its GPA standard)
– Be a Canadian citizen or have permanent residency status in Canada
– Provide proof of your English abilities
– Completed the NDEB’s AFK exam with a high score
If you meet all the requirements for your chosen institution’s program, you will be contacted for an interview or to participate in a bench test.
It is important to note that not every university offers a bridging program. Each university has a different process and standards. It is best to contact the institution of your choice to confirm its specified entry requirements.
The process can cost up to CAD 90,000 but this price can vary depending on tuition fees as well as each institution’s non-refundable application fee.
At Prep Doctors, we provide courses that help prepare trainees for admission exams and interviews conducted by Canadian universities. Our courses provide trainees with case-based training and practical scenarios designed to help them navigate the interview processes at institutions including the University of Toronto and Western University, to name a few.
Regardless of whichever route you choose, this is a huge commitment, both time-wise and financially (find out how to finance throughout your dental equivalency, here). Always feel free to reach out to the school or institution of your choice to learn more information and always weigh your options. Take the time to learn everything you can about campus life and express your expectations.
At Prep Doctors, we offer scheduled tours of our campus and facilities as well as demo courses and we are always available to answer any questions about all areas of the dental equivalency journey. Please feel free to reach out to us through our Facebook page or [email protected] and we are more than happy to help lead the way.