Choose the Best Dental Residency Program for International Students

  • searching for the best dental residency program for international students

We get a lot of questions about pathways for foreign-trained dentists to pursue careers in the United States. This article is for those of you who are curious or interested to choose the best dental residency program for international students.

Dental residency program vs. D.D.S

Let us start with discovering how a dental residency program is different from D.D.S. A dental residency provides education and training in a particular subject, just like a post-graduation program would in your home country. Also, admissions to a residency program are facilitated via the National Matching Service which makes it more competitive. You must be able to to choose the best dental residency program for international students.

an official dentistry emblem

D.D.S. is an advanced standing program which does not focus on a specialization but rather all subjects taught in a dental school. It is basically a bridge course making you equivalent to any US-trained dentist in which you repeat two years of dental training to get licensure to practice in the United States.

The future need for dentists in the United States is strong because of the aging U.S. population. This will increase the need for dentists in two ways: first, many older dentists will retire, and the larger cohort of older patients will need oral health care services. Secondly, the U.S. population is becoming increasingly diverse and individuals with limited English proficiency often have poorer health, creating the need for health care practitioners with multilingual skills. This provides a great opportunity to make a nice living in the US.

Residency programs

There are six types of residency programs that participate in the Postdoctoral Dental Matching Program administered by National Matching Services, Inc. for selecting students. These are as follows:

  1. Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD)
  2. Dental Anesthesiology
  3. General Practice Residency
  4. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  5. Orthodontics
  6. Pediatric Dentistry

According to the program’s website, for the matriculating year of 2014, the number of spots for “dental residency program for international students” available through the matching program varied from a low of twenty-seven for dental anesthesiology to a high of 619 for GPR programs ( AEGD programs had the highest proportion of foreign-trained dentists (18.9 percent) followed by orthodontics (16.1 percent).

Advantages of a dental residency program

  1. Continuation of a bachelor’s program acquired in your home country.
  2. Direct specialization of a subject, hence saving time.
  3. More financially viable than D.D.S.
Best Dental Residency Program for International Students

How to choose the best dental residency program for international students

Disadvantages of a dental residency program

  1. License to practice dentistry is limited to only a few states
  2. It is difficult to get accustomed to the US ways of practicing dentistry since you weren’t educated here
  3. There is no salary for internationally-trained residents in most universities.

Foreign-trained dentists have many career options available. What you ultimately choose depends on how much input you are willing to put in the process and how much freedom you want to practice in the US.

What factors would influence the decision of choosing a dental residency program for international students?

  1. Availability of programs

There are 9 CODA approved specialties which accept foreign dentists. Specialty programs are usually two to three years in duration, maximum being six years for oral surgery.

  1. Determine costs

Studying at a dental school is a huge investment which requires taking loans and having a sponsor in the U.S. Hence, do a thorough research about both the tuition and living expenses before applying. Explore the options for scholarships available as well.

  1. Location of the School

It is advisable to choose a dental school which is nearby to your guardian’s home. That way you will be saving on the travel expenses and time in case of frequent visits. You can also consider the type of community in that area and the climate of that region since not everyone can survive the cold weather.

dental residency programs in usa for international students

  1. Curriculum and Requirements for International Students

Find out the subjects you will be studying, and the type of marking system used. Student to faculty ratio is important if you need more individual attention. Research about the type of clinics you will be working in, the community of patients you will be treating, and above all the amount of laboratory work you will be doing since these factors are pertinent and will help you in making a better decision.

  1. Campus and Student Life

You will be spending nearly 3 years in dental school or more so you want your student life to be productive as well as fun. Most dental schools organize many co-curricular activities and have a variety of clubs and organizations to participate in. Sports and other activities will help you to be disciplined and de-stress from your hectic work schedule.

Choosing the right dental residency program for international students is a major step towards achieving your goal of living and practicing in the US. Therefore, make sure you research thoroughly before applying to a dental school. Your experience as a dental student or resident will shape up your life. Talk directly to students and teachers of the school you want to attend and have a round of the school if possible.

Lastly, what other factors do you consider while choosing a program?  What is the best way to find and to choose the best dental residency program for international students. Let us know!

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  1. Lama Bdeir May 22, 2020 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Hey, I would like to know what are my options to enter an orthodontics residency for international students after finishing my DDS
    what are the requirements and is affordable?

  2. Stephanie December 26, 2019 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    Hi! If I studied a specialty in another country, would I have to go through the same process of a 2 year program to be able to get a licence? Or is it different for foreign trained specialist? If so where could I find this type of information?

    • Sherry Astorga December 26, 2019 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Stephanie! Please check your inbox. I have sent you an email. Thank you!

      • Prashanthi January 1, 2020 at 11:41 am - Reply

        Hi…i have completed my post grade in orthodontics and now after clearing national boards should i again do 2yrs of dds or can i directly apply for speciality degrees

        • Sherry Astorga January 1, 2020 at 9:01 pm - Reply

          Hi! Yes, you can either apply for residency right away as an international dentist or you can apply in an advanced standing program (DDS), both programs are competitive but the residency is most competitive with the process.

  3. John Ngong June 28, 2019 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Please do you have a list of GPR and AEGD programs that accept foreign trained dentists.

    Thank you

    • Christ Barcenas June 30, 2019 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      Hi there John,

      We actually have a guide book that was written by Dr. Alyssa herself, where she listed the programs you mentioned. If you are interested, you can find it here

      Guide Book

      Hope this helps, thanks!

  4. Omar June 15, 2019 at 5:56 am - Reply

    Could you please list the residency programs that can accept international dentists without the need for NBDE and with minimal tuition fees?

    • Christ Barcenas June 16, 2019 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Hey Omar, thanks for your comment! We’ll take your suggestion into consideration.

  5. GEORGE June 2, 2019 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Could you tell me which schools have a residency program in orthodontics?

    • Christ Barcenas June 2, 2019 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      We’ve responded to your Facebook message on our page George!

  6. Ahmad May 22, 2019 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    Hi i want to ask about the Mclindent Endondontics 3year full time program recognized by the Royal college of surgeons Edinburgh UK. Is there any route to practice as a specialist in any of the US states with this degree ? Or am i eligible to take American board exam for the endodontic speacilist with this UK specialist degree ? Thanks

  7. PennyB April 15, 2019 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Hello Angelina

    This was very informative, thank you for the information.
    Which states give licenses to FTD without DDS after completion of Dental Residency. How is an MSD degree different from a certificte or MS

  8. Eman A.Omar April 4, 2019 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Dear Angelina,
    Thank you for your comprehensive and deeply informative post. As an internationally trained dentist (ITD), I would like to know which dental schools in the US accept us into the 2 year DDS program ( to become licensed in the US) without the national matching system? And which dental schools if you are aware of any, have a “relatively” affordable program?
    Thank you,

    • Christ Barcenas April 5, 2019 at 3:58 am - Reply

      Hi Eman,

      We’re glad to know that you found the article informative! Here’s a list of programs that accept international dentists to their 2-3 year advanced standing programs. On the list you’ll find their specific requirements and websites where you can find more information on their tuition fee.

      CAAPID-participating Programs


  9. Youssef El Fichawy December 9, 2018 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    I would like to know much more information about implantology residency in any university
    Thank you

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