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How to Become a Dentist in Nebraska

There are more than 200,000 dentists in America. Dentistry is an excellent career with many personal and professional benefits, including the knowledge that you are making a difference in the lives of your patients every day.

In Nebraska, 57% of the state’s 93 counties lack sufficient access to dental care. Additionally, 85% of counties don’t have enough pediatric dentists. This dentistry gap has the potential to be filled by graduates of the state’s dental schools.

Prospective dentists will find that Nebraska provides many educational and professional development opportunities. To become a licensed dentist in Nebraska, one must successfully enroll in dental school, complete the required coursework, fulfill the state’s requirements for licensing, and pass the state Dentistry Board exam.

State Requirements for Dentists in Nebraska

The Nebraska State Board of Dentistry is responsible for licensing all dentists within the state, as well as dental hygienists, dental school faculty, temporary dentists, and dental assistants.

The Board requires all dentistry candidates to meet the following qualifications when applying for their license:

  • Provide proof of graduation from an accredited dentistry school
  • Pass the Board of Dentistry exam (including the National Board Dental Examinations, Parts I and II)
  • Pass the practical examination, which may be administered by the Central Regional Dental Testing Service or any other Board-approved testing service
  • Pass a jurisprudence exam that demonstrates an understanding of Nebraska’s statutes, rules, and regulations governing dentistry practice

When necessary, the Board may also require continuing clinical competency as a condition of the license.

All applicants must also pass a criminal background check.

Nebraska may also license a dental practitioner who has been licensed in another state or jurisdiction if the individual has been either practicing dentistry or enrolled in a graduate training program or residency within the last three years. This is called licensing by reciprocity.

State Board Exams in Nebraska

When you submit your application to the Nebraska Board of Dentistry, you will need to provide your official score report for the practical examination administered by the Joint Commission on National Board Dental Examinations.

Applicants do not submit the scores themselves; they must request that the scores are submitted directly from the testing agency that proctored the examination.

An important note about the exam: If an applicant has previously failed the exam on two occasions, the applicant must also complete a remedial course in clinical dentistry before the passing score of the third examination is considered valid.

The following exams currently qualify dentists for Board licensing:

  • 2021-2022 Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS) Dental Examination
  • 2021-2022 Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA) Dental Examination with either the CDCA Patient based Periodontal Examination or the CRDTS Patient based Periodontal Examination 
  • 2021-2022 Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA) Dental Examination 
  • 2021-2022 Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) Dental Examination with CRDTS Prosthodontic Manikin or patient-based Examination or the WREB Prosthodontic Manikin or patient-based Examination or the CDCA Prosthodontic Manikin or patient based Examination 
  • 2021-2022 Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA) Dental Examination with CRDTS Periodontal Examination 
  • 2021-2022 American Dental Examination (ADEX) with a manikin or patient-based periodontal examination (Passing Score is 75)

Nebraska Dental Programs

Prospective dentists have a few different educational options in the state of Nebraska. Choosing the right dental school involves looking at the program’s credibility, the faculty’s qualifications, the cost and the location.

Creighton University, Omaha

Located in Nebraska’s largest city, Creighton University emphasizes its focus on excellent faculty and compassionate dental care for the community. The Creighton School of Dentistry describes its faculty as “scholar-mentors” who guide students through their clinical experience with expertise.

The dental clinic at the School of Dentistry provides high-quality and affordable care to local residents. Importantly, Creighton is considered to be one of the most affordable private dental schools.

The school receives just under 2,000 applications each year and admits 115 students. The faculty/student ratio is low, with one faculty member for every six students. The mean GPA of Creighton’s dentistry students is 3.63. The mean DAT scores are 20 for academic, 21 for perceptual, and 20 for total science.

University of Nebraska Medical Center, Lincoln

The College of Dentistry at UNMC offers a 4-year program that admits only 52 students per year. This highly selective DDS program is located in Nebraska’s capital.

The class sizes are small and utilize cutting-edge technology. The Clinical and Virtual Simulation lab provides students access to virtual reality, 3-D and haptics technology. The Digital Design Studio allows students to use the latest CAD/CAM technology using 3-D printers.

The school believes in providing the community with comprehensive dental care. Under the guidance of highly trained faculty, students emulate private practice care. Notably, the College of Dentistry provides essential dental services to underserved populations.

Additionally, the school provides significant scholarship money to its students. Enrolled students receive over $1.4 million in annual scholarships to continue their studies.

Students can also pursue a Pediatric Dentistry Residency to fill the state’s pediatric dentistry gap.

Opportunities for Dentists in Nebraska

Nebraska needs more dentists.

While students come from all over the country to study at Nebraska’s dental schools, not all of them stay in the state. For those who choose to stay, there are significant opportunities to build a career and provide an essential community service.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for dentists in 2021 was $163,220 per year. That breaks down to an hourly rate of $78.47. Nationally, the BLS also predicts a continued growth rate of 8% over the next ten years. There will be about 11,000 new dentists in the US by 2030.

Nebraska will experience a similar rate of growth by 2030. There is a projected increase of 8% in the state. Currently, there are 30 positions available annually for Nebraska dentists.

As Nebraska’s current dentists get closer to retirement age, there will be more opportunities for new dentists to start practices or take over practices from retiring dental providers. Serving the people of Nebraska by providing high-quality and compassionate dental care is a meaningful way to launch a career in dentistry.

Related Links

Dental assistant programs in Nebraska

How to become a dental hygienist in Nebraska