Foreign-trained Dentists in Canada


Up until 2010, a dentist would have to graduate from a Canadian or US dental school to be eligible for licensure in Canada.

Graduates of dental schools outside North America had to go through an advanced standing or qualifying program at an accredited North American dental school. This literally involved re-doing the last 2-3 years of dental school with regular dental students and graduating with a DMD or DDS degree.

Getting accepted at those qualifying or advanced standing programs was very competitive as there were only 70-80 spots across Canada. In order to get in, successful candidate would have to perform better than other candidates in all these competencies:
1. GPA earned in dental school in their home country
2. ACFD exam: a written exam on fundamental knowledge of dentistry
3. Interview by dental school teaching staff
4. Assessment of clinical skills: various clinical excersises on typodonts and manikins.

Successful foreign trained dentists who were accepted had to apply for loans and bank lines of credit in order to pay tuition and other expenses which were comparable to what a regular dental student would pay. A dentist in North America typically graduates with about 100-300 thousand dollars of debt.

In 2011, the government started:

  • Reciprocal accreditation of dental schools in Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland (2012).
  • Launched the Foreign trained dentists FTDs equivalency process.

The Equivalency process for FTDs consist of a set of three exams:
Part 1: Fundamental knowledge written exam
Part 2: Clinical judgement written exam
Part 3: A clinical assessment exam: excersises on typodonts and manikins

The exams cost less than ten thousand dollars, don’t involve a real patient, don’t test all clinical skills, and can be passed within one or two years. Applicants don’t have to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to write them. In fact, dentistry is on the express entry for immigration to Canada.

The number of successful FTDs has skyrocketed in the last few years. When the program first launched in 2011 only 44 candidates passed. In 2014, the number was over 260, which is equivalent to the graduates of 6 typical Canadian dental schools.