The National Commission serves the public and the profession by providing transparent and objective review of the recognized specialty organizations, prospective specialty organizations, their respective certifying boards and their adherence to the ADA Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties and National Certifying Boards for Dental Specialists.
Learn more about the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards.
Serving the dental profession and the public
NCRDSCB questions and answers
In 2016, the ADA Board of Trustees directed the Task Force on Specialty and Specialty Certifying Board Recognition to evaluate the process and criteria used to recognize dental specialties and certifying boards. The Board and the Task Force agreed that the recognition process must:
- Be grounded in objective standards that protect the public, nurture the art and science of dentistry and improve the quality of care
- Serve to reduce real and/or perceived conflicts of interest and bias
- Include multiple review steps, including provisions for appeal
- Operate similar to the other commissions housed within the ADA
- Include representation from the ADA ( general dentists) and each of the recognized dental specialties
- Build on the expertise developed by the Council on Dental Education and Licensure (CDEL) and be grounded in the existing Requirements for Recognition
- Be financially prudent and not place a burden on the ADA or on dental specialty sponsoring organizations
To accomplish these principles, the Task Force proposed the creation of a National Commission, noting that formation of an independent commission would address real and perceived conflicts of interest and bias in the decision-making process. This step would also conform to national standards and public expectations for establishing objective processes, applying clear standards and making high-stakes decisions. The National Commission held its inaugural meeting in May 2018.
The National Commission serves the public and the dental profession by providing transparent and objective review of the recognized specialty sponsoring organizations, prospective specialty sponsoring organizations, their respective certifying boards and their adherence to the Requirements for Recognition.
Our vision is held to be the standard of excellence and professionalism in recognition of dental specialties and dental specialty certifying boards. Our guiding values are objectivity, integrity, transparency, consistency and professionalism.
The National Commission does not act as a mediator, nor does it intervene on behalf of any organizations or individuals or act as an arbitrator between disputing organizations. We are independent in our decision-making process, ensuring that bias and conflicts of interest are avoided.
Requirements set by the National Commission are designed to help dental professionals excel throughout their careers and help the public ascertain the importance of educational qualified and board certified dental specialists. We do not, however, provide recognition or credentials for individual professionals.
All of the commissions listed below are agencies of the ADA with independent authority to manage dental and dental-related activities that are unique to each commission. The commissions have the authority to adopt their own rules, policy and processes, elect their own chairs/vice-chairs, select their own consultants, appoint their own public member(s) and develop their own strategic plans. The four ADA commissions are:
- Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE)
- Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)
- Commission for Continuing Education Provider Recognition (CCERP)
- National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards (NCRDSCB, also referred to as the National Commission)
The National Commission is the agency that recognizes dental specialties and their respective national certifying boards based on the ADA Requirements for Recognition. The National Commission is independent in its decision-making process for the recognition of dental specialties and certifying boards, ensuring that bias and conflicts of interest are avoided. The National Commission applies requirements designed to help dentists excel throughout their careers and help the public ascertain the importance of educationally qualified and board certified dental specialists.
The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) focuses on promoting quality in education through the accreditation process and evaluation of educational programs. CODA conducts its evaluation program in a manner consistent with universally established accreditation practices and criteria of the U.S. Department of Education. CODA is independent in its actions and protects the integrity of the accreditation process through consistent application of its high standards, plus adherence to the accreditation process and maintenance of the confidentiality of the process.
The National Commission is the agency that recognizes dental specialties and their respective national certifying boards based on the ADA Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties and National Certifying Boards for Dental Specialists. The National Commission is independent in its decision-making process for the recognition of dental specialties and certifying boards, ensuring that bias and conflicts of interest are avoided. The National Commission applies requirements designed to help dentists excel throughout their careers and help the public ascertain the importance of educationally qualified and board certified dental specialists.
The Council on Dental Education and Licensure (CDEL) studies and makes recommendations on ADA policy related to dental, advanced dental and allied dental education and accreditation, continuing education, recognition of dental specialties and interest areas in general dentistry, dental licensure, dental anesthesiology and allied dental credentialing. CDEL approves the certifying boards for dental assisting and dental laboratory technology and their processes for credentialing individuals. CDEL also acts as liaison to other ADA agencies on matters related to dental education. CDEL’s role is to monitor accreditation and specialty recognition matters and study and consider dental education and licensure matters as they relate to the interests of the profession as a whole, member dentists, and the ADA and in accord with its Strategic Plan.
The 25 National Commission members are selected by and represent the:
- American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
- American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
- American Academy of Oral Medicine
- American Academy of Orofacial Pain
- American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
- American Academy of Periodontology
- American Association of Endodontists
- American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
- American Association of Orthodontists
- American Association of Public Health Dentistry
- American College of Prosthodontists
- American Dental Association
- American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists
- General public (one of the 25 members)
All business conducted during the National Commission meeting including the review of policy, finances and discussions related to the recognition of dental specialties and certifying boards is confidential and conducted in closed session.
All deliberations of the Appeal Board are confidential and conducted in closed session. All meetings of the Review Committees and Standing Committees are confidential and conducted in closed session.
Further, according to the National Commission’s Confidentiality Policy, only the meeting minutes from the Board of Commissioners annual meeting are posted on the National Commission’s website. The meeting minutes of the Review Committees, the Standing Committees and the Appeal Board are confidential and not posted.
The National Commission has two Review Committees: (1) the Review Committee on Specialty Recognition and (2) the Review Committee on Specialty Certifying Board Recognition. Both are responsible for review of recognition and policy matters related to recognition of the dental specialties, the recognized dental specialty sponsoring organizations and the recognized dental specialty certifying boards.
The Review Committees gather, review and analyze information to formulate recommendations to the Board of Commissioners to grant or deny specialty recognition. Because the Board of Commissioners is the decision-making body of the National Commission, any recommendation(s) made by a Review Committee are considered confidential until the Board of Commissioners takes final action.
The National Commission's Review Committees do not act in the same capacity as CDEL’s Committee G.
No. Only disciplines of dentistry that can achieve and maintain compliance with the Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties will become recognized by the National Commission.
Compliance consists of:
- Representation by a sponsoring organization whose membership is reflective of the proposed specialty.
- Must be a distinct and well-defined field which requires unique knowledge and skills beyond those commonly possessed by dental school graduates.
- The scope of the specialty requires advanced knowledge and skills that is separate and distinct from the knowledge and skills required to practice in any of the other recognized specialties and cannot be accommodated through minimal modification of a recognized specialty.
- Must be able to document scientifically, valid and reliable statistical evidence/studies that (a) actively contributes to new knowledge in the field, (b) actively contributes to professional education; (c) actively contributes to research needs of the profession; and (d) provides oral health services in the field of study for the public.
- Must directly benefit some aspect of clinical patient care.
- Must have advanced dental education programs of at least two years accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
As part of the application process, the National Commission has a 60-day public comment period that is open to the communities of interest and the general public. Use these forms to submit your views.
Comment on pending recognition of a dental specialty (PDF)
Comment on pending recognition of a certifying board (PDF)
The National Commission has a formal policy to investigate complaints about a recognized specialty sponsoring organization or certifying board that may not be in compliance with the Requirements for Recognition. This policy does not apply to applicants for specialty recognition and specialty certifying board recognition because compliance with the Requirements for Recognition is determined during the application policies and processes.
View complaint process (PPT)
To learn more, please get in touch with us.
National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards
American Dental Association
211 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
800-621-8099, ext. 2697
Catherine Baumann, Director, 312-440-2697