Continuing Education

The dental commission amended the continuing education rule June 6, 2018. The amended rule requirements are effective January 1, 2019. Amendments clarify appropriate continuing education subject matter, minimum and maximum number of hours in specified subject matter, methods to obtain continuing education including web-based options, and required dental jurisprudence examination.

How many hours of continuing education do I need to renew my dental license?

Sixty-three hours every three years. State law details continuing education requirements for dentists (WAC 246-817-440).

When does my three-year reporting period start?

The three-year continuing education reporting period for a dentist licensed in Washington before 2019 began January 1, 2019. Verification of completion of continuing education hours will be due on the dentist's annual license renewal date in 2022, and every three years thereafter.

The three-year continuing education reporting period for a dentist initially licensed in Washington in 2019 or later begins upon date of licensure and every three years thereafter.

Do I need to send copies of certificates of completion?

No. You must sign an affidavit of compliance every three years. You'll find the affidavit on your annual renewal notice. You must renew your license annually.

How long do I have to keep continuing education documentation?

You must keep your documentation for four years.

May I count continuing education hours I accumulate for other sources, (i.e., national certification with specialty organizations, etc.) towards this requirement?

Yes. The hours must be within the appropriate reporting period. Proof of completion of continuing education hours must meet WAC 246-817-440 (5).

How many continuing education hours can I obtain online?

There is no limit, but only 30 minutes for every one hour completed counts toward continuing education. Example: You complete 30 hours of continuing education online; you may use 15 hours toward your required 63 hours of continuing education.

Are live Webinars considered self-study or online education?

Live interactive Webinars are specifically indicated as allowable in WAC 246-817-440 (4)(a) of the rule. Full credit is allowed for live Webinars.

Are recorded interactive webinars considered self-study or online education?

Full credit is allowed for recorded interactive webinars. WAC 246-817-440 (4)(b)(i) is currently being finalized to include this exception.

What is a recorded interactive Webinar?

A recorded interactive Webinar is a Webinar that previously took place that allowed participants to interact with the presenter during the Webinar.

Is there a limit on the number of hours for live Webinars?

No. No limit is indicated in WAC 246-817-440 (4)(a).

May I count continuing education hours from one reporting period to the next reporting period?

No. You cannot carry over continuing education in excess of the required hours earned in a reporting period to the next reporting period (WAC 246-12-230).

May I count a course taken in year one of the continuing education reporting period and count the same course again in year three of the continuing education reporting period?

No. You may not count the same course twice in one CE reporting period (WAC 246-12-230), except for basic life support which may be taken once each year. You may count three hours every three years (WAC 246-817-440).

May I complete all 63 hours of continuing education in the first or last year of my reporting period?

Yes. The 63 hours of continuing education can be obtained any time during the required three-year reporting period.

How do I prove I took the dental jurisprudence examination?

After you complete the dental jurisprudence examination, print the results page. Keep your printed copy with your completed continuing education documentation. Be sure to print before submitting the examination at the end.

Why do I have to complete the dental jurisprudence examination every three years?

The commission considered a request to require the dental jurisprudence examination as part of continuing education. The commission determined that dentistry laws change and knowledge of the laws is necessary to help dentists comply with requirements in Washington State. The dental jurisprudence examination is a free, open-book examination online. You receive one hour of continuing education for this activity.

Does the dental jurisprudence examination fall into the self-study or online category?

No. This is a separate requirement and available only online.

If I took the jurisprudence examination in December 2018, may I count that as part of the required 63 hours?

Yes. Changes to WAC 246-817-440 became effective January 1, 2019. However, the commission has determined it will accept appropriate continuing education completed during the old reporting period of 2018-2019.

What is education in evidence-based dentistry or medicine that includes journal article evaluation?

It is education that practices critical thinking and builds a knowledge base of logical fallacies and biases to filter out literature that is poorly done or misleading. It will also teach the learner how to measure the level of reliability of the conclusions of any particular paper even if it is well done. Readers will be more effective if they are familiar with that literature. The learners will develop a series of questions that will lead them to methodically dissect the information in a verifiable and reproducible way.

Where do I obtain a critical evaluation of journal article education?

Courses are available by multiple organizations in person or online; i.e. universities, Johns Hopkins, and Cochrane courses. Education should contain literature analysis. Verification of any Commission on Dental Accreditation residency meets the critical evaluation of a journal article education.

Where do I obtain a critical evaluation of a journal article questionnaire?

It can be found on our website (PDF).

How do I document teaching hours for continuing education?

A letter from the institution detailing the subject and hours you taught is acceptable.

May I count specialty board certification as continuing education?

Yes. Certification and recertification must have been obtained during your continuing education reporting period to count 62 hours. The dental jurisprudence examination is required for one hour, to reach the total 63-hour requirement.

I administer sedation. Am I required to take additional continuing education?

Yes. You may find details in the Administration of Anesthetic Agents section on the Frequently Asked Questions Dental webpage.

We want to provide a continuing education course. How do we obtain approval?

The commission does not approve or accredit continuing education courses or providers. Law indicates that a credit hour for time actually spent in a course cannot be less than 50 minutes (WAC 246-12, Part 7). All courses must be designed to enhance the professional development of the dentist and to enhance the clinical and overall skills needed to protect the health and safety of all patients. You may provide proof of completion or participation to the dentists attending your course, stating the name of the course, the date(s) taken, subject, and the total number of continuing education hours completed. Other organizations, such as American Dental Association, accredit continuing education courses.

Does my study club have to be recognized by some entity to be considered acceptable?

No. Study club hours are an acceptable source of continuing education, provided the coursework is designed to enhance the professional knowledge and development of the practitioner or to enhance services provided to patients. We do realize there are various types of study clubs and that some are more social in nature, while others are offered, authorized or accredited by various professional organizations. You may provide proof of completion or participation to the dentists attending your course, stating the name of the course, the date(s) taken, subject, and the total number of continuing education hours completed. Coursework will determine if it is acceptable continuing education.

One of the dental product vendors wants to come into my office and provide an "in service" training to me and my staff on new dental products and materials, techniques and equipment. Is this acceptable continuing education?

Yes. Fifty minutes is a credit hour. You should get some type of documentation of the content of the training, the time spent, etc., for your records.

Explain the volunteer services category – what types of volunteer services are acceptable?

The commission recognizes the value of dentists providing volunteer services to targeted populations. The dentist and recipient both benefit. Up to 21 continuing education hours can be accumulated every three years. Examples of this type of continuing education would be working with the Special Olympics, working with the Smilemobile or ABCD programs, etc. It isn't the intention for continuing education hours to be granted for routine pro-bono work.

May I get an extension of time to complete my continuing education?

Dentists may be excused from or granted an extension of continuing education requirements due to illness or other extenuating circumstances. Law requires continuing education to renew your annual license. Any requests should be made several weeks before your renewal date to prevent delays in processing your license renewal. Requests must be in writing and sent to Dental Quality Assurance Commission program manager by email or mail. You cannot practice without an active license.

Washington State Dental Quality Assurance Commission
P.O. Box 47852
Olympia, WA 98504

Why was the continuing education reporting period changed to three years?

The commission determined a three-year reporting period provides more flexibility for dentists to complete continuing education. Some dentists earn more than 21 hours in one year and will now be able to claim all hours within their specific three-year reporting period. Better quality continuing education can be sought, rather than dentists taking any course to meet the one-year deadline. Additionally, many other states have two- or three-year reporting periods. This change creates consistency with other states.

Why is my license renewal every year if continuing education is required every three years?

WAC 246-817-990 requires annual license renewal. Although continuing education is required at time of renewal, the continuing education rule, WAC 246-817-440, is separate from the license renewal rule.

When will I be audited for continuing education?

Continuing education audits are random and fall in the month you renew your license. If you receive an audit letter, respond with appropriate copies of your continuing education documentation.

When can I begin taking continuing education to meet the new 63-hour continuing education requirement?

On or after January 1, 2019. However, the commission has determined it will accept appropriate continuing education completed during the old reporting period of 2018-2019. To clarify, appropriate continuing education completed after a dentist's birthdate in 2018 through December 31, 2018, may be counted for the new three-year reporting period that ends in 2022.

Where can I find approved health equity continuing education trainings? 

The Department of Health has a list of free and paid trainings. See our Health Equity Continuing Education webpage

I took a two-hour online health equity course. Does this meet the health equity CE requirement and how many hours can I count towards my total 63 hour CE requirement?

Yes, an approved two-hour online health equity course would meet the two-hour health equity CE requirement. The two-hour online course would count as one hour of CE requirements. Online courses are considered self-study and self-study courses count as half an hour per hour of course.

Summary of continuing education required for licensed dentists

Credential Type Yearly Every three years Every five years One-time only
Dentist license   Sixty-three (63) hours    
Minimal sedation by inhalation (nitrous)     Seven hours  
Minimal sedation     Seven hours  
Moderate sedation with enteral agents permit   Seven hours    
Moderate sedation with parenteral agents permit   Fourteen (14) hours    
General anesthesia permit   Eighteen (18) hours    
Pediatric sedation endorsement   Fourteen (14) hours    
Dentist suicide prevention education       Three hours
Dentist opioid prescribing education       Three hours
Health equity training   Two (2) hours     
Healthcare provider basic life support (BLS) Current certification required      
Dental Infection Control
DHCP infection prevention standards       No specific hour requirement
Office infection prevention policies and procedures Annual review      
Current infection prevention standards One hour