Things to Know About the INBDE Dental Board Exam

inbde dental exam

The Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE) is the exam for candidates seeking dental licensure. There is enough stress that comes along with studying for the dental boards and keeping up with dental school graduation requirements. We’ve answered some of the most important questions you may have about the INBDE.

How long is the INBDE?

The INBDE consists of 500 questions and administered over two days. It totals 12 hours and 30 minutes.

  • Day 1 includes 360 questions in 8 hours and 15 minutes of administrative time.
  • Day 2 includes 140 questions in 2 item sets over 4 hours and 15 minutes of administrative time.

When do you take the INBDE?

Candidates usually sit for the INBDE during the final year of dental school.

What topics are on the INBDE?

The INBDE covers biomedical, clinical, and behavioral sciences in its evaluation of candidate dental cognitive skills. INBDE Clinical Content areas represent fundamental tasks that are performed by entry-level general practitioners. These three component sections are: Diagnosis and Treatment Planning (36.2%), Oral Health Management (42.0%), and Practice and Profession (21.8%).

There are 56 areas of fundamental knowledge candidates should master prior to completing the exam cycle. These areas of fundamental knowledge are further divided among the following INBDE subject areas

  • Molecular, biochemical, cellular, and systems-level development, structure, and function: 12.2%
  • Physics and chemistry to explain normal biology and pathobiology: 6.8%
  • Physics and chemistry to explain the characteristics and use of technologies and materials: 8.0%
  • Principles of genetic, congenital and developmental diseases and conditions and their clinical features to understand patient risk: 10.6%
  • Cellular and molecular bases of immune and non-immune host defense mechanisms: 9.0%
  • General and disease-specific pathology to assess patient risk: 11.8%
  • Biology of microorganisms in physiology and pathology: 10.6%
  • Pharmacology: 10.6%
  • Behavioral sciences, ethics, and jurisprudence: 10.6%
  • Research methodology and analysis, and informatics tools: 9.8%

How much does the INBDE cost?

According to the ADA, the average first-year cost of dental school (including tuition and mandatory general fees) in 2021-22 was $56,698 for residents and $74,866 for non-residents. As of January 1, 2023, the INBDE costs $845. There are additional fees for candidates looking for score reports or INBDE certificates.

What are Patient Boxes?

inbde patient boxes

One of the biggest differences between the INBDE and NBDE is the “Patient Box,” a new item presentation format. A Patient Box contains patient case information that would be available to the dentist and dental hygienist during their visit. Examinees will need to extrapolate the pertinent information from the Patient Box and apply what they have learned from classes and clinical work to answer the exam questions.

Why did the INBDE replace the NBDE exams? 

The Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations began to develop the Integrated National Board of Dental Examinations (INBDE) in 2009 to reflect changes in dental school curricula and instructional methods by consolidating basic sciences, behavioral science, and clinical sciences.

The goal was to create an exam based on two key concepts: Clinical Relevance and Integration. The JCNDE defines Clinical Relevance as “factors that impact patient outcomes in clinical/professional contexts” and Integration as, “knowledge of basic, clinical, and/or behavioral sciences along with cognitive skills to understand and solve problems in clinical/professional contexts”. 

One of the reasons why the INBDE Dental board exam came about was because the dental education community claimed that two separate board exams were causing students to pull away from their education training and devoting their time and energy to preparing for two high stakes exams on two separate occasions.

How can I study for the INBDE?

Get the best INBDE exam preparation with BoardVitals INBDE online sample questions. The BoardVitals INBDE question bank includes more than 2,300 INBDE exam practice questions to help you master key concepts and details that you can expect to see on your test including questions with the new INBDE Patient Box format. Sign up for a free trial today. 

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