Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of ADEX? What impact does ADEX hope to have on dental licensure in the United States?

The American Board of Dental Examiners (ADEX) is a non-profit corporation of Boards of Dentistry with a Mission “To develop clinical licensure exams for dental professionals.

ADEX’s philosophy is motivated by the concept of a Uniform National Dental and Dental Hygiene Clinical Licensure Examination administered throughout the country in accredited dental and dental hygiene institutions by regional and independent testing agencies. Understanding that dentistry is no different in one part of the country than another and there should be no difference in the standards of dentistry from one part of the country to another the ADEX feels that candidates that successfully complete the ADEX examination in dentistry and dental hygiene should have the portability to practice their chosen profession throughout the United States.

When and How was ADEX created?

In 2003 the US had sixteen (16) different dental and dental hygiene licensure examinations administered by four regional and twelve independent testing agencies. Concerned, the AADE called a special meeting of all testing agencies and they collectively decided to participate in the process of developing a uniform national dental and dental hygiene licensure examination. This newly created group of representatives from the four regional testing agencies and 12 independent States started work on the development and organizational structure of the exam in a collaborative effort unprecedented in AADE history. This group decided that this organization would be an organization of State Boards. 

In 2004 most of the criteria, scoring, and content of the examination were in its final stages and most of the work was on the organizational and structural design of this new organization. The group adopted the name of the examination as the American Dental Licensure Examination (ADLEX) and the American Dental Hygiene Licensure Exam (ADHLEX). The group also named itself the American Board of Dental Examiners (ADEX). ADEX was incorporated in Kansas and the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws were adopted in May of 2005. The ADEX would function as a National Exam committee for the participating State Boards of Dentistry and Testing Agencies. The first ADLEX, now simply called the ADEX Dental Exam, was administered by the Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS) in Hawaii in December 2005.

What does it mean that certain regional licensing agencies offer the ADEX examination? How is this different than what these agencies did previously?

There are four Regional Testing Agencies in the United States. The NERB (DBA) as the Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA-WREB), the Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA), the Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS), and the Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA) – Soon to be joining CDCA-WREB. At one point in time, all regional testing agencies administered their own independently developed initial clinical dental and dental hygiene licensure examinations for their member states. These regional testing agencies had their own examination committees that designed clinical licensure examinations based on the principles of test development. Although test development principles are universal and apply to all test development, not all dental licensure examinations developed by these testing agencies are similar.

With the creation of ADEX, an exam development corporation, and the movement toward a uniform national dental and dental licensure examination, Boards of Dentistry and Regional Testing agencies that supported this concept became the members of ADEX and ADEX then became/replaced the exam committees for those participating Boards of Dentistry and Regional Testing Agencies. Therefore, the ADEX would now develop the dental and dental hygiene examination for that particular testing agency, not the testing agency’s exam committee. Unfortunately, not all testing agencies believe in a uniform national dental and dental hygiene licensure examination and still retain their own exam committees and continue to develop and administer their own dental and dental hygiene licensure exam.

Note: ADEX is an organization of Member Boards not Testing Agencies. ADEX only develops the examinations; it does not administer any exams.  Currently, the Regional Testing Agencies that administer the ADEX Dental and Dental Hygiene licensure examinations are the NERB (DBA) CDCA-WREB and CITA testing agencies.

Where can I take the ADEX examination?

The ADEX is a national test development corporation that develops the ADEX dental and dental hygiene clinical licensure examination. ADEX has thirty-seven (37) jurisdictions and two (2) participating Regional Testing Agencies. The ADEX exams are administered by the NERB (DBA) as CDCA-WREB and CITA regional testing agencies. By contacting these testing agencies, they will direct you to the schedule of examinations being administered by that testing agency during the current exam season. You will then have an opportunity to select the particular exam site that best fits your needs. ADEX in its quest for uniform national examinations continues to make progress toward its goal. New locations for the administration of both dental and dental hygiene examinations are added every year.

Note: ADEX is an organization of Member Boards not Testing Agencies. ADEX only develops the examination; it does not administer any exam.  Currently, the Regional Testing Agencies that administer the ADEX Dental licensure examination are the NERB (DBA) CDCA-WREB and CITA testing agencies.

If ADEX is the most widely accepted licensure examination, why is it not offered at all US dental schools?

The ADEX dental and dental hygiene examination is the most widely accepted dental licensure examination in the US. It is the purview of State Boards of Dentistry to accept any of the initial licensure examinations in dentistry and dental hygiene as their means of assessing competency and providing public protection. Some States accept all regionally administered licensure examinations and some States only accept one.

The educational institutions act independently of State Boards of Dentistry as far as the administration of a particular licensing examination at that school. Dental and Dental Hygiene Schools can choose to allow the administration of as many different dental or dental hygiene licensure examinations they want but due to time constraints, curriculum interruption, and politics, the schools will typically allow only the administration of the licensing examination that corresponds with the regional independent testing agency which that state is a member of.