17 Nov 2020 | Uthman Quick

The NDEB Process vs. Bridging Programs: What’s the Difference?

The NDEB process vs. Bridging Programs? Which one is right for you? Well, Prep Doctors helps to figure it out.

As an internationally-trained dentist, there are two routes available when looking to become a licensed dentist in Canada. You have the option to apply to the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) equivalency process or opt to enroll in an academic bridging program that’s offered at Canadian universities. 

Although each option has its benefits and challenges, it is important to understand what each option offers. So, what is the difference between the NDEB process and bridging programs?


Option 1: The NDEB Process:  

The most popular method for internationally-trained dentists is taking the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) exams. The NDEB is a governing body that creates and administers assessments that identify the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in Canada’s dental job field. When opting to take this route you will have to appear for and clear 3 exams:

Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK)

Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ)

Assessment of Clinical Studies (ACS) 

Once you have cleared these exams, the next step is to go through the NDEB’s certification process where you will need to clear two final exams:



Before taking the exams, you will have to apply for the NDEB Equivalency Process by creating an online profile through the NDEB’s Online Portal.

Once you have created your profile, you will need to submit the following documents to be approved by the NDEB:

– Government-Issued Photo Identification

– Proof of Name Change/Difference in name if applicable

– Translation of Proof of name change/difference in name, if applicable

– Final Dental Diploma/Degree

– Translation of Academic Records, if applicable

– Internship Completion Certificate, if applicable


You will need to arrange to have a Confirmation of Degree completion form and your academic records sent to the NDEB by your university.

For those who are looking for a quicker route in obtaining dental equivalency, the NDEB process is the ideal option.

The shortest time in which this process can be completed is 1.5 years, provided you clear the exams on the first try. The NDEB allows you 3 attempts each exam to get a passing score. It is important to note that you must score at least 75% on each exam in order to advance to the next exam. 

Although you can prepare for the exams on your own, Prep Doctors helps with preparing trainees for the exams. Prep Doctors can help with that as well as provide you with the confidence and knowledge that will help you adapt to the landscape of Canadian dentistry. 

For more information on our NDEB equivalency courses, click here


Option 2: Academic Bridging Program

In Canada, there are specialized bridging programs offered by universities that focus on bridging the gap between international training and Canadian training. After successful completion of this program, students are able to transition into the third year of a four-year Doctor of Dental Surgery Program (DDS). These programs can be anywhere from 2-3 years in duration. 

So how does one get into a bridging program? Well, similar to the NDEB route, you will need to complete the NDEB’s AFK exam. However, there are some distinct differences in the qualifications that are required of a trainee.

Trainees looking to take the bridging program route must have the following:


– Canadian citizen or permanent resident

– Graduated from a four-year university program (not recognized in Canada) 

– Relatively strong GPA (Every university has its own grading scale)

– Must have cleared an English proficiency test

– Appeared for the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK) exam (85% or higher)


Bridging programs are offered by Canadian universities by various names but generally have the same qualifications and program aspects. These programs include:  

– University of British Columbia – International Dental Degree Completion Program

– University of Toronto – International Dentist Advanced Placement Program (IDAPP)

– University of Manitoba – International Dentist Degree Program

– University of Western Ontario – Internationally Trained Dentists (ITD) Program


Canadian universities are incredibly competitive when it comes to this route due to the limited amount of dental programs in Canada, especially compared to other job fields. So when applying for a bridging program, besides having a relatively high score on the AFK exam, you must also write an essay and have a resume of extracurriculars that show you’re a well-rounded candidate. 

A common question is, “what kind of extracurriculars do universities typically look for?”. Well, extracurriculars can include a wide range of activities including volunteering, sports and community service. It is also extremely beneficial to have some dental shadowing and clinical hours under your belt as well. 

If your application meets these requirements, the university will invite you to an interview or conduct a bench test. 

At Prep Doctors, we have courses that help to prepare for various universities’ interview processes. Check out our courses below:

University of Toronto | Admissions Course

Universities Admissions Course | Western, Manitoba, Alberta



When researching your options, it is no doubt that pricing plays a big part in helping to determine what your final decision will ultimately be. Taking the NDEB route can cost upwards of CAD 50,000 depending on how many attempts as well as exam fees. Tuition fees for bridging programs can vary, depending on the university. It is important to note that there is a non-refundable application fee when applying for any bridging program. For a full breakdown of prices, check out our blog: How to Become a Dentist in Canada.


So, which one should you choose?

Figuring out which route is best for you depends on what will work best for your situation. If you’re looking to complete your equivalency in a shorter amount of time or the cheapest overall route, the NDEB route is your best option. However, if you do achieve a high score on the AFK exam, although the more expensive route, applying for the university route is an option to consider. 

If you ever have any questions or you’re just looking for a bit of clarification, Prep Doctors is always here to help. Whether on our Facebook page, through email at [email protected] or by phone (+1 855-397-7737), we’re more than happy to help craft the best path for you!