Fort Mandan State Historic Site is temporarily closed for maintenance until further notice.

SHSND Home Archives State Agencies Dental Examiners
To schedule an appointment, please contact us at 701.328.2091 or

OCLC WorldCat Logo

SHSND Photobook - Digitized images from State Archives

Digital Horizons

2019-2021 Blue Book Cover

Federal Depository Library Program

Chronicling America

Archives - State Agencies - State Board of Dental Examiners

[Authorized:  NDCC Section 43-28-03]
The Territorial Legislature in 1885 declared it unlawful to practice dentistry within the territory until a certificate was obtained from the Board of Examiners (T. L. 1885, Ch. 43). The Board consisted of five practicing dentists two of whom were appointed by the Governor from a list provided by the South Dakota Dental Society and the Northwestern Dental Association. When North Dakota became a state in 1889 the North Dakota Legislature expanded the duties of the newly formed State Board of Dental Examiners to ensure better education and regulation for the practice of dental surgery and the general practice of dentistry. The vacancies that were left by the Board members living in South Dakota were filled by appointments made by the Governor of North Dakota (S. L. 1890, Ch. 58). In 1911 dentistry was defined as performing dental operations of any kind on the teeth, treating diseased lesions of the human jaw, replacing lost teeth with artificial ones, or attempting to correct the “malposition” of teeth (S. L. 1911, Ch. 280). As the functions of the profession changed and procedures became specialized laws were added or amended in order to keep current with the changes.  

The purpose of the Board was to make reasonable rules and regulations in the practice of dentistry. The Board held regular meetings twice yearly and kept an accurate list of all licensed and registered dentists.  A Board member who missed more than two consecutive meetings was no longer a member and the position was considered vacant (S. L. 1911, Ch. 280). The State Board of Dental Examiners consisted of five members appointed by the Governor with three members required to be selected from a list of recommendations from the North Dakota Dental Association. The Board kept a record of all proceedings, receipts, and disbursements as well as a full list of all dentists licensed and registered in the state.  Duties of the Board included making, amending, and revising rules and regulations that governed dentists, examining applicants for licensure to practice dentistry, issuing, suspending, renewing, revoking, and reinstating practitioners.  The Board issued subpoenas requiring the attendance of a witness, produced documents of evidence in of cases of misconduct, and administered oaths.  If needed, administrative help could be added.  In 1995 the Board was permitted to hire an executive director, investigative staff, and a clerical assistant to perform the duties formerly carried out by the secretary-treasurer (S.L. 1995, Ch. 40). In 2007 legislation addressed the handling of cases of malpractice and other disciplinary incidents including background checks (S. L. 2007, Ch. 374).

Qualifications to serve on the State Board of Dental Examiners included, being a duly licensed and registered dentist engaged in the practice of dentistry in the state for at least five years. No member could serve on the Board more than one full five-year term. The name of a potential candidate had to be recommended for appointment by the North Dakota Dental Association and the list was submitted to the Governor who made the appointments. At least three names were suggested for each appointment (S. L. 1959, Ch. 319). Later legislation removed the requirement of being chosen from a list submitted by the North Dakota Dental Association. Legislation in 1977 clarified the term of office for a member of the Board who had been appointed to fill a vacancy. It was determined that the member could be reappointed for a full term (S. L. 1977, Ch. 410). In 1981 the Board increased to six members with the addition of a dental hygienist. Board members continued to serve five-year terms (S. L. 1981, Ch. 450).  The dental hygienist was not required to be a member of the North Dakota Dental Association and did not vote on issuing, suspending, revoking licenses or on disciplinary action and examination of dentists (S. L. 1981, Ch. 450). In 1991members could serve for two consecutive terms (or ten years) and the Board expanded to seven members with the addition of a consumer member (S. L. 1991, Ch. 465).   Qualifications of the consumer member included living in North Dakota for five years and having no personal or family financial relationship with the dental profession.  

In order to become a licensed and registered as a dentist the applicant had to contact the secretary-treasurer of the Board, be of good moral character,  graduate from a dental college recognized by the Board, pass the dental examination, and be a US citizen or plan to file an intent to become a citizen. The citizenship requirement was dropped in 1981. Legislation repealed the prohibition of a dentist from advertising by means of displaying signs, lights, or newspaper advertisements (S. L. 1981, Ch. 435). When the Board hired an executive director applications to take the exam were accepted by the director. The application had to be sent in thirty days prior to the examination and include a current photo. The Board accepted examinations for licensure from dentists who moved to North Dakota from other states if the test was comparable to the examination given by the North Dakota Board of Dental Examiners. Legislation in 1991 allowed testing to be done by a regional dental testing service recognized by the Board (S. L. 1991, Ch. 465). State law required a dentist to display the certificate of registration at the dental office. It was considered a Class A misdemeanor, for dentists and dental hygienists to work or do any type of dentistry without a license (S. L. 1975, Ch. 106). Students of dentistry or dental externs enrolled in a dental college could train or perform certain duties under the supervision of a licensed and registered dentist (S.L. 1977, Ch. 409). Since 1971 dentists have been required to complete a determined number of continuing education hours and report the results to the Board for approval (S. L. 1971, Ch. 443). This had to be done every five years.  Changes in the number of credits increased several times (1991 and 2001) and since 2001 continuing education hours must be reported every two years (S. L. 2001, Ch. 380). License renewal is determined by completion of continuing education requirements.  Legislation in 2005 allowed exemptions for certain occupation military personnel from this requirement (S. L. 2005, Ch. 377).  

Legislative action in 1995 created a new sub-section of the Century Code stating that only a licensed practicing dentist could own more than 49% of a dental business (S. L. 1995, Ch. 414). This provision did not apply to medical clinics and public health settings where dentists were considered associates. A two year exemption was given to an heir or personal representative of a deceased dentist who continued to operate an office under the name of the deceased dentist. The ownership law was amended in 2005 (S. L. 2005, Ch. 366). 

In 1967 the Board required a test for dental hygienists in order to be registered and licensed (S. L. 1967, Ch. 353). Legislation limited the work of the dental hygienist and the licensed dentist was the supervisor.  Initially the dental hygienist was required to file a license with the Office of the Clerk of Court in the county where the holder worked. The hygienist’s license had to be displayed in a conspicuous place at the workplace. Rules governing the scope of practice of the dental hygienist were established by the Board and continuing education credits of a licensed dental hygienist could be audited. Legislation in 1993 (S. L. 1993, Ch. 431) specified that a dental hygienist needed a minimum of two years of study in a dental hygiene curriculum and could take an exam administered by an outside testing service.  The dental hygienist practiced under the rules and regulations set by the Board of Dental Examiners (S. L. 1995, Ch. 409). In 2003 legislation allowed a dental hygienist to administer block and infiltration anesthesia to patients over the age of eighteen as directed by a dentist. The hygienist needed to complete the educational hours as required by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and with the approval of the Board (S. L. 2003, Ch. 365). Rules and regulations concerning the scope of practice for dental assistants became the responsibility of the Board in 2005 (S. L. 2005, Ch. 361). 

1885       The Board of Examiners established by the Dakota Territorial Legislative Assembly made it unlawful to practice dentistry unless licensure requirements were met.  A five member Board was created consisting of dentists who were appointed by the Governor (T. L. 1885, Ch. 43).

1889       After statehood all territory lying north of the seventh standard parallel constituted the state known as North Dakota.  

1890       The State Board of Dental Examiners was established and vacancies left by those living in South Dakota were filled by the North Dakota Governor.  An act expanded and outlined the duties of the Board (S. L. 1890, Ch. 58).

1911       Board duties addressed qualifications for certification.  Legislation mandated the Board “to at all times” include three members recommended by the North Dakota Dental Association (S. L. 1911, Ch. 280).

1959       Board consisted of five members with no member serving more than one five-year term.  The Board licensed and registered dentists for practice in the state and when necessary hired extra administrative staff to help with the additional duties of the Board (S. L. 1959, Ch. 319).

1963       The Board submitted a biennial report the Governor and Secretary State (S. L. 1963, Ch. 346).

1967       Dental hygienists were required to pass an exam prior to obtaining a license from the State Board of Dental Examiners (S. L. 1967, Ch. 353).

1971       Legislation expanded the regulatory role of the Board and requirements for continuing education (S. L. 1971, Ch. 443).

1973       The biennial report was submitted to the Governor and the Secretary of State (S. L. 1973, Ch. 410).

1975       The biennial report was submitted to the Governor and the department of accounts and purchases (S.L. 1975 Ch.466).  The law required registration and licenses for dentists or dental hygienists (S. L. 1975, Ch. 106).

1977       Students or dental externs could work or train under the direct supervision of a licensed and registered dentist (S. L. 1977, Ch. 409).  Board members served only one five-year term.  Legislation addressed when a reappointment of a member to the Board was appropriate (S. L. 1977, Ch. 410), and defined legislation that addressed the outcome of practitioners who were convicted of an offence (S. L. 1977, Ch. 130).

1979       Late registration fees for licensing and renewals increased for dental hygienists and dentists (S. L. 1979, Ch. 468).

1981       The grounds for revoking or removing a license of a dentist or dental hygienist were amended and the citizenship requirement repealed.  A current photo of the applicant was to be sent with the application form (S. L. 1981, Ch. 445).  The State Board of Dental Examiners increased to six members appointed by the Governor and included five dentists and one dental hygienist (S. L. 1981, Ch. 450).

1985       Applications were submitted to the secretary-treasurer of the Board at least thirty days prior to the test.  Additional laws included disciplinary action for which the Board was responsible (S. L. 1985, Ch. 487).

1991       The Board increased to seven members who were appointed by the Governor.  One member was a consumer.  Board members could serve two full terms (ten years). Dentists and dental hygienist exams could be administered by a Board designee or by a regional dental testing service recognized by the Board (S. L.1991, Ch. 465).

1993       New legislation relating to dental hygienists addressed education, the scope of practice, qualifications, and any necessary disciplinary measures.  A licensed and registered dentist was required to act as supervisor for hygienists (S. L. 1993, Ch. 431).

1995       The biennial report was submitted to the Governor and the Secretary of State (S. L. 1995, Ch. 350). The Board appointed an executive director to assume the duties done by the secretary-treasurer and other responsibilities of the Board (S. L. 1995, Ch. 409).  Only dentists could own more than 49% of a dental practice.   Other ownership exceptions were addressed (S. L. 1995, Ch. 414).

2001       The Board determined the number of times an applicant could retake the exam.  Reporting continuing education credits for license renewals changed from five years to two years (S. L. 2001, Ch. 380).

2003       Dental hygienists licensed by the Board could administer anesthesia to patients over the age of eighteen when supervised by a dentist (S. L. 2003, Ch. 365).

2005       Exceptions concerning licensure renewals for members serving in the military were addressed (S. L. 2005, Ch. 374).  Dental assistants were required to take an exam prior to licensing and the Board adopted rules governing the scope of practice for dental hygienists (S. L. 2005, Ch. 361).  Laws were amended relating to dental services offered through nonprofit organizations (S. L. 2005, Ch. 366).

2007       Dentists were required to practice within the scope of their educational training as recognized by the Board. Specialty practice had to be recognized by the American Dental Association and other professionally recognized boards (S. L. 2007, Ch. 374).

2009       Five new sections were added to the Century Code relating to licensure, the practice of dentistry, dental hygienists, and dental assistants (S. L 2009, Ch.369).

2011       Legislation concerned dental service providers and preferred provider arrangements (S. L. 2011, Ch. 224). Also addressed was the new dental practice grant program (S. L. 2011, Ch. 319). Laws required that dental hygienists be included on the list of professionals who need to report child abuse (S. L.2011, Ch. 369).

2013       The State Department of Health was given an appropriation for a grant for mobile dental care service (S. L. 2013, Ch. 25) and the State Legislature also appropriated funds to the State Department of Health for a loan repayment program for dentists (S. L. 2013, Ch. 61). A new section added to the Code concerned changes to the authority of the Board of Dental Examiners and amended sections on licensing of dental hygienists and dentists. It also concerned the ownership of dental practices (S. L. 2013, Ch. 328). Legislation required an act to provide for a Legislative Management study relating to statewide access of dental services (S. L. 2013, Ch. 419).

32220 State Board of Dental Examiners Records.
Laws of Dakota Territory.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Board of Dental Examiners Website.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.
Legislative History of North Dakota State Agencies: Richard J. Wolfert State Librarian. State Library Commission, 1978.

612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Get Directions

State Museum and Store: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
We are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
State Archives: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F, except state holidays; 2nd Sat. of each month, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at 701.328.2091 or
State Historical Society offices: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, except state holidays.

Contact Us:
phone: 701.328.2666

Social Media:
See all social media accounts