Continuing Education

Questions and Answers for Dentists and Dental Hygienists

General Information | Continuing Education: Who is Required to Take it and Why? | Continuing Education Hours | Continuing Education Courses and Acceptable Subject Areas | Continuing Education Sponsors | Recordkeeping, Reporting and Audits | Other Relevant Information | Contact for Further Information

General Information

The continuing education requirement for dentists will be changing. Beginning July 1, 2008, New York State Education Law will require dentists to complete 60 contact hours of continuing education in each three-year registration period. For dental hygienists, the law still requires the completion of 24 contact hours in each three-year registration period. The law that applies to these requirements (Title VIII of Education Law) is available on this site.

The New York State Board for Dentistry does not maintain or have access to the continuing education records of any licensee.

Continuing Education: Who is Required to Take it and Why?

  1. Why is continuing education important?

    Answer: The healthcare professions are always changing. New medications and new procedures are always being developed. To give the best care to your patients and allow your practice to evolve with your profession, you will want to continue your education throughout your professional career.

  2. Who is required to take continuing education?

    Answer: Every dentist and dental hygienist registered to practice with a New York State license must take continuing education to be eligible for registration renewal.

  3. How many hours must be completed? Have the requirements changed?

    Answer: Beginning July 1, 2008, New York State Education Law requires dentists to complete 60 contact hours of continuing education in each three-year registration period. Prior to that date, dentists are required to complete 45 contact hours of continuing education during each three-year registration period.

    Dental hygienists are required to complete 24 contact hours of continuing education during each three-year registration period.

  4. I am a dentist and my registration period begins prior to July 1, 2008 and ends after that date, how many hours of continuing education am I required to complete?

    Answer: To determine how many hours of continuing education you must complete, count the number of months from the beginning of your registration period through June 30, 2008 and multiply that number by 1.25. Then count the number of months from July 1, 2008 through the end of your registration and multiply that number by 1.667. Add these two totals to find the total number of hours you are required to complete during this registration period. A calculator to assist during this transition is available on our Web site.

  5. I just graduated and received my license and am in my first registration period. Do I need to begin taking continuing education immediately?

    Answer: No. Licensees are not required to complete continuing education during their initial three-year registration period.

  6. I was practicing in another jurisdiction and just received my first New York State license and registration. Do I need to begin taking continuing education immediately?

    Answer: Yes. Although this is the first time you received a New York State license, it is not your first license. You must complete the required continuing education during this and all subsequent registration periods.

  7. I just received my registration and it is less than three years in length. Am I still expected to complete the total number of continuing education hours required for my profession?

    Answer: No. Registration periods are adjusted so that renewals occur during the licensee's birth month. When this happens, you can calculate how many continuing education hours you are required to complete. If you are a dentist, follow the instructions in question 4. For dental hygienists, count the number of months in your registration period and multiply that number by .67 hours. For example, you are issued a registration effective 7/1/05 and it expires 10/31/07. This registration is for 28 months multiplied by .67 for a total of 18.76 (19) hours for dental hygienists.

  8. I do not practice my profession, but I am registered. Do I need to take continuing education?

    Answer: Yes. Any individual who holds an active registration must take the required continuing education.

  9. I am licensed in New York State but my registration is inactive because I am practicing my profession in another jurisdiction. Do I need to complete continuing education before I can reactivate my New York State registration?

    Answer: Yes. To reactivate your New York State registration you will need to complete the amount of continuing education required for a normal triennial registration period. Since you are actively practicing your profession, you will be able to count continuing education credits earned up to 36 months prior to the month in which you reactivate your registration.

  10. I am licensed in New York State but my registration is inactive because I have not been practicing my profession. Do I need to complete continuing education before I can reactivate my registration?

    Answer: Yes. To reactivate your New York State registration you will need to complete the amount of continuing education required for a normal triennial registration period. Since you are not actively practicing your profession, you will only be able to count continuing education credits earned up to 12 months prior to the month in which you reactivate your registration.


Continuing Education Hours

  1. What is an hour of continuing education?

    Answer: An hour of continuing education is one contact hour of at least 50 minutes in duration. Most continuing education providers give credit in hours; however, you may see credit given in continuing education units.

    One continuing education unit (CEU) equals 10 contact hours. Therefore, .1 CEU equals one contact hour, .2 CEUs equals two contact hours, .3 CEUs equals three contact hours, and so on.

    Individuals completing college-level course work should note that one semester hour equals 15 contact hours.

  2. If I complete more hours than required during the registration period, can I use them toward the hours required in my next registration period?

    Answer: No. Continuing education hours can not be carried over from one registration period to the next. The hours must be completed between the effective date and expiration date of the registration period for which they will be applied.

  3. Am I required to complete a certain number of hours per year?

    Answer: No. You can complete the hours any time during the three-year registration period as long as you have completed the required hours prior to the expiration date of your registration. However, we recommend that you complete courses each year so you are sure to have them completed before it is time to reregister.


Continuing Education Courses and Acceptable Subject Areas

  1. Are there specific courses that I must take to be eligible to renew my registration?

    Answer: Yes. All dentists who have a continuing education requirement must take the following courses. (see section: Continuing Education: Who is Required to Take it and Why? to determine if you are required to complete continuing education)

    • During your first registration period after January 1, 2002, you must complete on a one-time basis, a two-hour course regarding the oral health effects of tobacco and tobacco products.
    • During your first registration period which begins on or after January 1, 2008, you are required to complete, on a one-time basis, a State approved course in dental jurisprudence and ethics.
    • Beginning January 1, 2009, all dentists must achieve certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and from that point forward, continually maintain certification.

    During your first registration period which begins on or after January 1, 2008, you are required to complete, on a one-time basis, a State approved course in dental jurisprudence and ethics. This means that:

    • Dentists renewing their registration in 2008 must complete the course by 2011
    • Dentists renewing their registration in 2009 must complete the course by 2012
    • Dentists renewing their registration in 2010 must complete the course by 2013

    Dentists and dental hygienists must also complete a State approved infection control course every 4 years. A list of approved providers can be found on the Office of the Professions' Web site.

  2. What are the requirements for the tobacco coursework?

    Answer: Dentists must complete a two-hour course in the oral health effects of tobacco and tobacco products. This course must cover the chemical and related effects and usage of tobacco and tobacco products and the recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of the oral health effects of tobacco and tobacco products, including but not limited to cancers and other diseases and must be offered by an approved sponsor. Dentists who can document that they completed a two-hour continuing education course after February 27, 1997, which is consistent with Education Laws and Regulations pertaining to continuing education that covered the required topics will be considered to have met the requirement. This course must be completed during the first registration period for which the dentist has a mandatory continuing education requirement.

  3. What are the requirements for the New York State dental jurisprudence and ethics coursework?

    Answer: Dentists must complete, during the first registration period which begins on or after January 1, 2008 in which they have a continuing education requirement, a three-hour course in dental jurisprudence and ethics. Because the course must include the laws, rules, regulations and ethical principles relating to the practice of dentistry in New York State, the course must be approved by the Department.

  4. What courses may I use to meet the CPR requirement? Which providers are acceptable? May I take an online course?

    Answer: Dentists may complete courses sponsored by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, the American Safety and Health Institute or the National Safety Council. All courses must be live and in person.

    The course must include, but need not be limited to, content in the following:

    • scene survey;
    • patient assessment;
    • one and two rescuer cardiopulmonary resuscitation;
    • mouth-to-mouth resuscitation;
    • mouth-to-mask resuscitation;
    • conscious choking;
    • unconscious choking;
    • bag-valve-mask resuscitation;
    • recovery position;
    • automated external defibrillator use;
    • infection control matters;
    • recognizing a heart attack; and
    • cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator scenarios.

  5. May I count CPR training toward my continuing education requirement? How many hours may I count?

    Answer: Yes. Dentists and dental hygienists may count CPR training toward their continuing education requirement. During each triennial registration period, you may count up to a maximum of twelve hours of CPR coursework, including coursework in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and/or Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS).

    • You may count a CPR course for up to three hours. A copy of your CPR card is proof of completion.
    • You may count a CPR course which includes training in the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) for up to four and one-half hours. A copy of your CPR/AED or BLS card is proof of completion.

    You may count an initial ACLS or PALS course for up to twelve hours and an ACLS recertification course for up to six hours. A copy of your ACLS or PALS card is proof of completion.

  6. I am physically incapable of performing CPR. Am I still required by law to maintain certification?

    Answer: No. You may be granted an exemption to the CPR requirement if you are physically incapable of complying with the requirement. Documentation of your incapacity shall include a written statement by a licensed physician describing how your physical incapacity affects performing CPR. You will also be required to submit an application for exception which verifies that another individual or individuals will maintain certification and be present in the dental office while you are treating patients.

  7. What about the other courses I complete to meet the continuing education requirement?

    Answer: All courses taken to meet the continuing education requirement must be formal courses in appropriate subject areas offered by approved sponsors.

  8. What are appropriate subject areas?

    Answer: Appropriate subject areas are those courses that contribute to professional practice in your profession.

    Appropriate subjects include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

    • basic and clinical dental sciences;
    • behavioral science;
    • pharmacology of new and developing drugs;
    • drug interactions;
    • public health issues;
    • child abuse reporting;
    • infection control;
    • sterile procedures;
    • legal or regulatory issues;
    • patient counseling;
    • risk management;
    • other topics that contribute to the practice of your profession; and
    • other matters of health care, law, and ethics that contribute to the public's health and welfare.

    The key is the subject matter's relationship to professional practice as defined in section 6601 of Education Law. Therefore, courses that are not related, such as PRACTICE MANAGEMENT, accounting, finance, statistics, and how to use the Internet are NOT ACCEPTABLE.

    If you are unsure whether a course you would like to take will meet the continuing education requirement, feel free to contact the Dental Board by phone at 518-474-3817, ext. 550 or by e-mail at dentbd@nysed.gov.

  9. Am I required to physically attend courses to meet the continuing education requirement?

    Answer: Yes. Prior to July 1, 2008, dentists are required to complete at least two-thirds of their continuing education hours via live courses (30 of the 45 contact hours required for a three-year registration). Beginning on July 1, 2008, dentists are required to complete at least seven-tenths of their continuing education hours via live courses (42 of the 60 contact hours required for a three-year registration)and dental hygienists are required to complete at least seven-twelfths of their hours via live courses (14 of the 24 contact hours required for a three-year registration). The balance of the remaining hours may be completed through appropriate self-study courses.

  10. What is a live course?

    Answer: Live courses are those in which you are able to interact with the instructor. For example: a live lecture; a telecourse or teleconference in which you and the instructor can speak directly with each other; a course in which you and other practitioners discuss a taped presentation with a facilitator's assistance; a computerized course in which you are able to interact directly with the instructor. On the other hand, a televised lecture with no means of direct interaction would not be acceptable as a live course even if it is a live telecast.

  11. Are there any other ways to obtain continuing education hours?

    Answer: Yes. In addition to formal courses offered by approved sponsors in appropriate subject areas, the following courses are acceptable for continuing education.

    • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) programs. You may count an initial EMT Basic course for up to ten hours and an EMT Basic recertification course for up to five hours. (Note: First-aid courses are not acceptable.)
    • Registered/Accredited residency programs.
    • Mandatory infection control offered by a New York State approved provider.
    • Mandatory training in the identification and reporting of child abuse and maltreatment offered by a New York State Education Department approved provider (two hours).

    In addition, you may count up to seven (7) hours per triennial registration period for teaching a continuing education course as long as the course is in an appropriate subject area and is offered by an approved sponsor.

    Credit will NOT be given for life/work experience; informal group "study clubs" of dentists and/or dental hygienists run by an unapproved sponsor; studying on your own; or conducting research, writing for journals, making videos and/or faculty teaching.


Continuing Education Sponsors

  1. How do I know if a sponsor is approved?

    Answer: The following entities are authorized to approve sponsors of continuing education for New York State dentists and dental hygienists. Therefore, courses offered by sponsors approved by one of these entities are considered approved for New York State mandatory continuing education purposes. In addition to making sure a sponsor is approved in accordance with the guidelines above, for courses completed on or after January 1, 2000 dentists are required to verify that the sponsor has at least one full-time employee of any kind, meaning an employee who works at least 30 hours per week.

    • The American Dental Association's Continuing Education Recognition Program (ADA CERP)

      A list of sponsors approved by ADA CERP is available from the Continuing Education Recognition Program, American Dental Association, 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611-2678; phone 312-440-2869; Web site www.ada.org/98.aspx External Link Icon.

    • The Academy of General Dentistry's Program Approval for Continuing Education (AGD PACE)

      A list of sponsors approved by AGD PACE is available from the Academy of General Dentistry, 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611-2670; phone 312-440-4300; Web site www.agd.org/education/pace/findaprovider/ External Link Icon.

      Note that AGD sponsors must have national approval to be acceptable.

    • The New York State Dental Association (NYSDA)

      Information regarding sponsors approved by NYSDA is available from the New York State Dental Association, 20 Corporate Woods, #602, Albany, NY 12211; phone 518-465-0044; Web site www.nysdental.org External Link Icon.

    • The New York State Education Department (NYSED)

      Information regarding sponsors approved by NYSED is available from the New York State Education Department, State Board for Dentistry, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234-1000; phone 518-474-3817 ext. 550; fax 518-473-0567; or this site.

    • Although they are not authorized to approve sponsors, colleges, universities, and other degree-granting institutions offering degree (A.A.S., B.S., M.S., D.D.S., Ph.D.) and certificate or diploma programs carrying degree credit that are registered by the State Education Department or that are accredited by an equivalent accrediting agency are approved as sponsors for courses in their registered or accredited programs.

      A list of New York State degree-granting institutions is available from the New York State Education Department, Office of Higher Education, Office of College and University Evaluation, 5 N. Mezzanine, Albany, NY 12234; phone 518-474-5851; Inventory of Registered Programs Web site www.nysed.gov/heds/IRPSL1.html.

      In addition, the following entities are authorized to approve sponsors of continuing education for New York State dental hygienists only.

    • The American Academy of Dental Hygiene, Inc. (AADH)

      Information regarding sponsors approved by AADH is available from the American Academy of Dental Hygiene, Inc., 13 Hamilton Avenue, Stamford, CT; phone 516-313-4948, or at Executive Director at www.aadh.org External Link Icon or pbarfam@aol.com.

    • The Dental Hygienists' Association of the State of New York (DHASNY)

      Information regarding sponsors approved by DHASNY is available from the Dental Hygienists' Association of the State of New York, 150 State Street, Suite 404, Albany, NY 12207; phone 518-477-0343, or by email at info@dhasny.org.

      If you are unsure whether a sponsor offering a continuing education program is approved, feel free to contact the Dental Board by phone at 518-474-3817, ext. 550 or by e-mail at dentbd@nysed.gov.


Recordkeeping, Reporting and Audits

  1. What records will I have to keep for the continuing education courses I attend?

    Answer: You will need to keep verification of attendance for each course for six years from the date of completion. Verification should include the following items:

    • title of the course;
    • number of hours completed;
    • the sponsor's name;
    • the location the course was taken;
    • the date of the course; and
    • verification by the sponsor of your attendance.

    This information is likely to be provided on a certificate of completion from the sponsor. Dentists' records must include verification that the sponsor has at least one full-time employee.

  2. Do I have to send these continuing education records to the State Education Department's State Board for Dentistry when I reregister?

    Answer: No. You will be required to certify completion of the required hours on the form to renew your registration by answering the continuing education question and signing the form. However, you are required to make your continuing education records available for inspection by the Education Department upon request. Random audits are conducted each month to insure compliance with these important requirements.

  3. What if an audit reveals that I did not comply with the mandatory continuing education requirement?

    Answer: You will be subject to disciplinary proceedings for professional misconduct. According to Section 29.1 of the Rules of the Board of Regents, willfully making or filing a false report is unprofessional conduct. Penalties may include censure and reprimand, a fine and/or suspension or revocation of your license to practice in New York State.

  4. When I attend some classes, I am told that copies of my certificates are being sent to another location. Are they sent to the State Board for Dentistry?

    Answer: No. Most likely your certificates are either sent to the New York State Dental Association or the Academy of General Dentistry.

  5. If I am audited, can I send my transcripts from those agencies as proof of completion of my continuing education requirement?

    Answer: The Department accepts transcripts from the New York State Dental Association and transcripts with CE courses reported on or after July 1, 2009 from the Academy of General Dentistry. However, please keep in mind that although organizations may maintain records of the number of hours completed by their members, we recommend that you keep your copies of the certificates of completion in your own files for a minimum of six years.


Other Relevant Information

  1. What if it is time for me to reregister and I have not completed the required number of continuing education hours?

    Answer: You may request a one-year conditional registration. The Education Department may grant a conditional registration to a licensee who admits to noncompliance with the continuing education requirements.

    To be granted a conditional registration, you would have to agree to:

    • complete the hours lacking from your previous registration period;
    • complete the regular continuing education requirement prorated for the one-year conditional registration;
    • pay the full triennial registration fee for the conditional registration; and
    • at the end of the conditional registration year, provide proof of compliance and pay the full triennial registration fee for the remaining two years of your registration
    • complete and submit the Registration Remittance Addendum( PDF 14 KB).

    Conditional registrations are valid for no more than one year and are not renewable. This means you MUST meet the requirements by the end of the conditional period. You will not be issued a registration for the remaining two years until you meet the requirements. Remember - if you are not registered you may not practice your profession in New York State.

  2. What if I do not meet the continuing education requirement and do not renew my registration?

    Answer: If you are not going to practice your profession in New York State, you must submit a written request to place your license in an inactive status. You will remain in an inactive status until you meet the pre-existing continuing education requirement and submit a registration renewal application with proof of compliance (see question 26 regarding verification of course completion) and the appropriate fee. Remember - if you are not registered you may not practice your profession in New York State.

  3. What if, due to circumstances beyond my control, I am having difficulty meeting the continuing education requirement?

    Answer: The Department may grant an adjustment (not an exemption) to the requirement for: poor health certified by a physician; a specific physical or mental disability certified by an appropriate health care professional; extended active duty with the armed forces of the United States; or extreme hardship which, in the judgement of the Department, makes it impossible for the licensee to comply with the continuing education requirements in a timely manner. You must request an adjustment from the Office of the State Board for Dentistry by submitting the Registration Remittance Addendum ( PDF 14 KB) and providing written documentation from an official source (such as a treating physician) of the circumstances preventing you from complying with the requirements.


Contact for Further Information

  1. What if I have questions or need further information?

    Answer: Contact the State Board for Dentistry, New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions, 89 Washington Avenue, Second Floor West, Albany, New York 12234-1000, phone 518-474-3817 ext. 550, fax 518-473-0567, e-mail dentbd@nysed.gov.

Please visit this Web site periodically for current information regarding issues related to the practice of your profession.

Last Updated: April 7, 2014