Dentist

Frequently Asked Questions

Licensing

Which clinical exam do I have to take?

Washington State accepts all regional clinical exams. You may find details on acceptable examinations in state law (WAC 246-817-120).

The Dental Quality Assurance Commission has determined that the optional prosthodontics examination the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) offers is a required section of the clinical examination for Washington State dentist licensure. Additionally, Washington State doesn't have specific criteria associated to the operative/restorative section. Applicants may follow WREB's examination process.

The Dental Quality Assurance Commission has learned the periodontal portion of the North East Regional Examining Board of Dental Examiners (NERB) and the Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA) dentist examinations are now optional. The commission has determined that all portions of the clinical examinations are necessary to be considered for licensure in the state of Washington.

The SRTA examination no longer provides a comprehensive treatment planning or diagnostic skills component. SRTA examination doesn't currently meet the requirements of WAC 246-817-120 (1)(b)(v) and is unacceptable for dentist licensure by examination.

The Dental Quality Assurance Commission has determined that the California State Dental Board portfolio examination isn't an acceptable clinical examination for Washington State dentist licensure.

Renewals

How do I renew my license?

Dentists must renew their licenses annually on or before their birthday. They're required to submit the appropriate fee and attest to completion of 21 hours of continuing education with each renewal cycle. Refer to WAC 246-817-440 and 246-12 (7) for more information. Please keep your address updated to receive courtesy renewal notices.

Online

By mail

In person

Come to our Tumwater location.

Avoid an expired license

Don't let your license expire. You must make sure we have your renewal before it expires. Otherwise, you won't be allowed to practice. A timely postmark on your renewal won't prevent an expired license. Renewals sent by mail take about two weeks to process.

How long will it take to process my renewal?

If you send it by mail it'll take about two weeks to update. If you bring the payment to the front counter it will take about three to seven business days. This saves mail time and you'll receive verification during the visit. If you complete your renewal online, the updated information will show on our provider/facility search.

Our goal is to process all renewals within seven business days after we receive them. This includes payment and processing time.

How do I renew my credential without a renewal notice?

Courtesy renewal notices aren't required for renewal. You may update your credential by mailing your renewal payment to us with documentation of your name, credential number, current mailing address and any other renewal requirements.

You may also contact our Customer Service Office or see your profession's webpage for current renewal fees and requirements.

How do I know what my expiration date is?

Your license lists the expiration date. It's your birthday. You may also look at our provider/facility search to see your expiration date. Dental sedation permits and limited licenses may have a different expiration date.

Continuing Education

Dentist Inactive License

How do I get an inactive dentist license?

You must have an active dentist license. You must request an inactive license in writing, and pay inactive status renewal fee and impaired dentist surcharge.

May I practice in Washington with an inactive dentist license?

No. Law indicates you may not practice dentistry in Washington State while you hold an inactive license (RCW 18.32.185).

Is continuing education required to renew my inactive dentist license?

No. Continuing education will be required when you choose to return your dentist license to active status.

How do I renew my inactive dentist license?

Dentists must renew their inactive licenses annually on or before their birthday. They're required to submit the appropriate fee. Please keep your address updated to receive courtesy renewal notices.

Your renewal must be postmarked or received by midnight of the expiration date or it's considered late. A late fee will be assessed. You may pay through regular or overnight mail or in person. Your inactive license may be renewed up to 90 days before it expires. You should receive a courtesy renewal reminder six to eight weeks before the credential expires. If you don't receive the notice within four weeks of your expiration date, please call 360-236-4700 or email us for help.

We cannot accept credit/debit cards over the phone or take payment on line. However, we do accept MasterCard or Visa credit/debit cards at the front counter.

Checks or money orders are payable to:
Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 1099
Olympia, WA 98507-1099

NOTE: You're not required to submit continuing education to renew an inactive dentist license.

How do I renew my inactive dentist license?

Dentists must renew their inactive licenses annually on or before their birthday. They're required to submit the appropriate fee. Please keep your address updated to receive courtesy renewal notices.

Your renewal must be postmarked or received by midnight of the expiration date or it's considered late. A late fee will be assessed. You may pay through regular or overnight mail or in person. Your inactive license may be renewed up to 90 days before it expires. You should receive a courtesy renewal reminder six to eight weeks before the credential expires. If you don't receive the notice within four weeks of your expiration date, please call 360-236-4700 or email us for help.

We cannot accept credit/debit cards over the phone or take payment on line. However, we do accept MasterCard or Visa credit/debit cards at the front counter.

Checks or money orders are payable to:
Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 1099
Olympia, WA 98507-1099

NOTE: You're not required to submit continuing education to renew an inactive dentist license.

How do I return to active dentist license?

If license has been in inactive status for three years or less:

If license has been in inactive status for three years or more AND you have been actively practicing in another state:

If license has been in inactive status for three years or more AND you haven't been actively practicing in another state:

  • Submit written request to return to active status.
  • Submit state verification of any licenses held from other states.
  • Forty-two hours of continuing education completed in previous two years.
  • Pay current active license renewal fee and impaired dentist surcharge
  • Submit proof of successful completion of an approved:
  • Successful completion of an approved written jurisprudence examination within the past year.
  • Verification of malpractice insurance if available, including dates of coverage and any claims history.
How do I return to active dentist license?

If license has been in inactive status for three years or less:

If license has been in inactive status for three years or more AND you have been actively practicing in another state:

If license has been in inactive status for three years or more AND you haven't been actively practicing in another state:

  • Submit written request to return to active status.
  • Submit state verification of any licenses held from other states.
  • Forty-two hours of continuing education completed in previous two years.
  • Pay current active license renewal fee and impaired dentist surcharge
  • Submit proof of successful completion of an approved:
  • Successful completion of an approved written jurisprudence examination within the past year.
  • Verification of malpractice insurance if available, including dates of coverage and any claims history.

Dentist Retired Status License

How do I get a dentist retired active status license?

You must have an active dentist license. You must request a dentist retired active status license in writing, and must pay the retired status renewal fee and the impaired dentist surcharge.

May I practice in Washington with a dentist retired active status license?

Yes, with limitations. You may practice under these conditions:

  • In emergent circumstances calling for immediate action; or
  • In intermittent circumstances on a nonpermanent basis.

You may not receive compensation for dental services provided (WAC 246-817-230).

Is continuing education required to renew my dentist retired active status license?

Yes. Twenty-one hours of continuing education is required (WAC 246-817-440).

How do I renew my dentist retired active status license?

You must renew annually on or before your birthday. You're required to submit the appropriate fee. Please keep your address updated to receive courtesy renewal notices.

Your renewal must be postmarked or received by midnight of the expiration date or it is considered late. A late fee will be assessed. You may pay through regular or overnight mail or in person. Your dentist retired active status license may be renewed up to 90 days before it expires. You should receive a courtesy renewal reminder six to eight weeks before the credential expires. If you don't receive the notice within four weeks of your expiration date, please call 360-236-4700 or email us for help.

We cannot accept credit or debit cards over the phone. However, we do accept MasterCard or Visa credit and debit cards at the front counter.

Checks or money orders are payable to:

Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 1099
Olympia, WA 98507-1099

How do I return to active dentist license status?

Infection Control

Dental infection control frequently asked questions are on our Infection Control FAQ webpage.

Scope of Practice

May dentists order lab tests for patients?

Yes. Dentists may order lab tests to diagnose and treat for the practice of dentistry.

May dentists prescribe Zyban for their patients to assist them in smoking cessation?

Yes. Dentists may prescribe smoking cessation products.

When dentists use Triazolam orally on dental patients, is it misleading to advertise as offering sleep dentistry?

Yes. Triazolam is typically used as an anti-anxiety medication that may induce sleep in some patients but does not in all. The use of the term sleep dentistry implies that the patient will be asleep.

Is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon with a DDS degree allowed to do elective cosmetic surgery such as rhinoplasty or blepharoplasty?

Yes. The definition of oral and maxillofacial surgery doesn't prohibit the performance of elective cosmetic surgery such as rhinoplasty and blepharoplasty (RCW 18.32.020).

How are treatment facilities defined?

The term connecting suite requires some means of access or passage between suites. Connecting suites would require that a door or passageway be present that would allow treatment providers to walk directly from one suite to the next. The phrase, or the immediately adjacent rooms or areas, refers to adjacent rooms within a particular practice. If there were two separate practices in the same building and they were right next to each other, they wouldn't be considered adjacent rooms or areas. Separate practices within the same medical building that are side by side but don't share a door constitute suites of offices and wouldn't be considered adjoining suites. Offices that share a means of entrance or passage between the practices are considered connecting offices. The term adjoining refers to adjoining rooms within one practice (WAC 246-817-510).

May dentists delegate silver diamine fluoride to dental hygienists, dental assistants, or expanded function dental auxiliaries?

Yes. Silver diamine fluoride is a fluoride preventative treatment. WAC 246-817-550 (5) and 246-817-525 (6)(b) allows dentists to delegate under general supervision to licensed dental hygienists and licensed expanded function dental auxiliaries. WAC 246-817-520 (f) allows dentists to delegate under close supervision to registered dental assistants.

General

Where may I locate the dental laws?

You may find the laws relating to the practice of dentistry on our website (RCW 18.32-Dentistry, RCW 18.260-Dental Professionals, RCW 18.350-Dental Anesthesia Assistants and WAC 246-817-Dental Quality Assurance Commission).

Do I need CPR/BLS certification?

Yes. Dentists and dental staff members providing direct patient care in an in-office or outpatient setting must hold a current and valid healthcare provider basic life support (BLS) certification. Dental staff members providing direct patient care include: licensed dentists, licensed dental hygienists, licensed expanded function dental auxiliaries, certified dental anesthesia assistants and registered dental assistants. Newly hired staff members providing direct patient care are required to get the certification within 45 days from the date hired (WAC 246-817-720).

Can a dentist charge a patient for a copy of the patient record?

Yes. RCW 70.02 governs medical records - healthcare information access and disclosure RCW 70.02.010, RCW 70.02.080, and WAC 246-08-400 provides how much can be charged.

Do all dental offices have to be paperless?

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act requires that healthcare providers who accept Medicare and Medicaid patients/payments change from paper to electronic patient records. This act is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 and has an effect on HIPAA as well. More information about this requirement is on HealthIT.gov.

How long must a dentist keep a record?

Six years according to the maintenance and retention of records law (WAC 246-817-310). Patient records must be kept for six years from date of last treatment, whether they are a former or current patient. If you have an active patient that has records older than six years, the older records can be destroyed. Only six years of patient records must be kept..

Does my prescription pad need two signature lines?

Yes. RCW 69.41.120 requires that all written prescriptions have two signature lines at opposite ends of the bottom of the form. Under the line at the right side shall be clearly printed the words "DISPENSE AS WRITTEN." Under the line at the left side shall be clearly printed the words "SUBSTITUTION PERMITTED." The practitioner must communicate instructions to the pharmacist by signing the appropriate line. For oral prescriptions, the practitioner or the practitioner's agent must tell the pharmacist whether a therapeutically equivalent generic drug may be substituted. This law includes prescriptions generated electronically.

Do I need to keep a copy of written prescriptions I provide to a dental laboratory or to a dental technician?

Yes. WAC 246-817-330 indicates an original prescription shall be referred to the dental laboratory indicates an original prescription shall be referred to the dental laboratory or the dental technician and the carbon copy shall be retained for three years by the dentist in an orderly, accessible file and shall be readily available for inspection by the secretary or an authorized representative. WAC 246-817-340 requires an accurate record of any medication(s) prescribed or dispensed be clearly indicated on the patient history.

Do I have to post my license in my office?

Yes. Dentists, dental hygienists, expanded function dental auxiliaries, dental assistants, and dental anesthesia assistants must place their license so it's visible to people receiving services in the premises WAC 246-817-301).

May I advertise through Groupon for my dental office?

Although dental laws don't specifically address Groupon or fee splitting, RCW 19.68 prohibits fee splitting by healthcare providers. The American Dental Association (ADA) Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conducted states under 4.E. that "dentists shall not accept or tender 'rebates' or 'split fees'" and that this applies to "business dealings between dentists and any third party, not just other dentists." The commission isn't aware of the specific contract terms and cannot make a comprehensive determination as to whether Groupon contracts in general violate the anti-rebating statute. If you choose to use Groupon or other like service, it's encouraged that you seek independent counsel to evaluate the actual service contract and associated laws.

How do I request a duplicate copy of my license?

Check the fee page to find the correct payment. Send a check or money order payable to the Department of Health. Please note you're requesting a duplicate credential and remember to include your credential number.

If it's within 90 days of your expiration date, you may renew your credential and receive an updated copy.

How do I update my mailing address?

All address change requests must be sent in writing. If you're renewing and have received your renewal notice, please complete the address change request on the back of the card.

If you're not renewing or don't have your renewal card, complete the address change online form. Be sure to select "Email" at the bottom of the form to submit your changes.

You must have your current mailing address on file. Otherwise, we cannot send you the courtesy renewal reminder.

The U.S. Postal Service won't forward state mail so it's your responsibility to inform the Customer Service Office of an address change.

What do I need to change my name on my license?

Please mail or fax a copy of your certified marriage certificate, divorce decree or court order showing your name change to the Customer Service Office. We won't send a credential showing your new name until we have processed your next renewal. You may also include this request when submitting your renewal.

If I am active military, how may I request military status?
  • Military service members retain their credentials during active duty status and are allowed to practice throughout the state.
  • We will place the service member on "active military" status when he or she provides a copy of the service orders to our Customer Service Office.
  • We don't send renewal cards to these credential holders. They must send current orders to the Customer Service Office each year before the credential expires.
  • We don't charge renewal fees to credential holders in active military status.
  • If the credential holder doesn't submit current orders on the renewal, the credential expires.
  • We will change a military status to active when the service member:
    • Provides a copy of the discharge papers (DD214).
    • Pays the renewal fee.
  • Continuing education hours, if applicable, aren't required upon return to active status.
  • Regular renewal fees and continuing education requirements apply after the first post-discharge update.
  • Military service members have a six-month period to update their credential after discharge.
  • If the credential holder doesn't renew within six months after discharge, the credential expires. If the credential holder later asks to renew the credential, the regular process applies, including penalties.

Administration of Anesthetic Agents/Sedation

Am I required to have a sedation permit?
What are the requirements for a sedation permit?

Permit requirements vary depending on the permit for which you're applying. The sedation permit application (PDF) form is available on our website.

How do I apply for a sedation permit?

The sedation permit application (PDF) is available on our website.

I administer minimal sedation by inhalation (nitrous oxide). Do I need to take additional continuing education?

Yes. Law requires seven hours every five years in addition to the annual 21 hours required (WAC 246-817-740). Continuing education must be in one or more of the following subjects:

  • Sedation
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Inhalation analgesia
  • Patient evaluation
  • Patient monitoring
  • Medical emergencies

In addition, you must take a healthcare provider basic life support (BLS) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) course. You cannot use BLS and ACLS hours for the required seven, but may use it toward annual 21 hours.

I administer minimal sedation, do I need to take additional continuing education?

Yes. Law requires seven hours every five years in addition to the annual 21 hours required (WAC 246-817-745). Continuing education must be in one or more of the following subjects:

  • Sedation
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Nitrous oxide analgesia
  • Patient evaluation
  • Patient monitoring
  • Medical emergencies

In addition to required continuing education for each sedation level, you must maintain a healthcare provider basic life support (BLS) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification. You may not use BLS and ACLS hours for the required seven but may use it toward annual 21 hours.

I have a Moderate Sedation permit. Do I need to have continuing education to renew?

Yes. Law requires seven hours every five years in addition to the annual 21 hours required (WAC 246-817-755). Continuing education must be in one or more of the following subjects:

  • Venipuncture
  • Intravenous sedation
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Nitrous oxide analgesia
  • Patient evaluation
  • Patient monitoring
  • Medical emergencies

In addition to required continuing education for each sedation level, you must maintain a healthcare provider basic life support (BLS) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification. You may not use BLS and ACLS hours for the required seven but may use it toward annual 21 hours.

I have a Moderate Sedation with Parenteral Agents permit. Do I need to have continuing education to renew?

Yes. Law requires 18 hours every three years in addition to the annual 21 hours required (WAC 246-817-760). Continuing education must be in one or more of the following subjects:

  • Sedation
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Nitrous oxide analgesia
  • Patient evaluation
  • Patient monitoring
  • Medical emergencies

In addition to required continuing education for each sedation level, you must maintain a healthcare provider basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), or pediatric advanced life support (PALS) certification. You may not use BLS, ACLS or PALS hours for the required 18 but may use it toward annual 21 hours.

I have a General Anesthesia permit. Do I have to take continuing education to renew?

Yes. Law requires 18 hours every three years in addition to the annual 21 hours required (WAC 246-817-770). Continuing education must be in one or more of the following subjects:

  • General anesthesia
  • Conscious sedation
  • Physical evaluation
  • Medical emergencies
  • Pediatric advanced life support (PALS)
  • Monitoring and use of monitoring equipment
  • Pharmacology of drugs
  • Agents used in sedation and anesthesia

In addition to required continuing education for each sedation level, you must maintain a healthcare provider basic life support (BLS) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification. You may not use BLS and ACLS hours for the required 18 but may use it toward annual 21 hours.