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As of October 2006, the licensure renewal period extends from two years to three. Continuing education requirements have been increased by one third, and dentists will be required to show proof of a minimum of 48 hours of continuing education over the three-year licensing period. Hygienists will be required to show proof of 36 hours of continuing education over the three-year period.

How many continuing education credits do I need to renew my license?
During each three-year licensing period, every dentist must take 48 hours of approved continuing education courses and every dental hygienist must take 36 hours of approved continuing education courses. When you send in your license renewal application to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), you must include an affidavit indicating that you have taken the necessary hours of continuing education in the preceding three-year period. IDFPR does not require you to list the specific courses on the affidavit; however, if you do not include this affidavit, your license will not be renewed. For complete information, refer to the Illinois Dental Practice Act which outlines dental professionals' continuing education requirements.

IDFPR will only accept credits from approved continuing education courses which cover clinical topics, practice management skills, legal and ethical responsibilities and stress management. The Illinois Dental Practice Act states that courses about estate and financial planning, investments or personal health will not be approved for continuing education purposes. It also specifies that "approved courses may include…courses that are offered or sponsored by approved colleges, universities, and hospitals and by recognized national, state and local dental and dental hygiene organizations." Before you take a continuing education course, make sure it is being provided by an approved sponsor and is about an approved topic. The Illinois State Dental Society is an approved continuing education sponsor.

Can I obtain continuing education credits from other states?
Maybe. If you are not licensed in the jurisdiction in which you received (or will receive) continuing education credits and the program was not presented by an IDFPR-approved sponsor, ask IDFPR to review the program and determine if it is acceptable for CE credits prior to your license renewal. To do so, submit and individual program approval request form (available from IDPR at 217/782-0458) along with a $20 processing fee. If you have questions about this, call the IDFPR Licensure Maintenance Unit at 217/782-0458.

As a dental hygienist or dental assistant, how many hours of continuing education do I need to monitor levels of nitrous oxide?
In order to monitor nitrous oxide levels, dental hygienists and dental assistants must show their dentist proof of certification that they have completed a 6-hour nitrous oxide course, including both didactic and clinical components. These hours related to nitrous oxide count toward the 36 hours of continuing education dental hygienists need to renew their license. If a dental hygienist or dental assistant does not monitor nitrous oxide, or there is no nitrous oxide used in his or her dental office, the dental hygienist or assistant does not need the 6 hours of continuing education about nitrous oxide.

As a dental hygienist, what are the educational requirements to administer nitrous oxide?
The dental hygienist must complete a course of 6 hours relative to the administration of nitrous oxide. This course must contain both didactic and clinical components and should have been completed no earlier than January 1, 1998. A certification showing successful completion of the course must be provided to the dentist. If the dental hygienist has previously completed a 12-hour course on monitoring nitrous oxide, the dental hygienist must complete a two-hour course on the administration of nitrous oxide. If the dental hygienist has graduated from a dental hygiene curriculum after January 1, 1998, which contained nitrous oxide administration in the curriculum, they have already fulfilled the educational requirements to monitor and administer nitrous oxide and need no additional coursework.

As a new dental school or dental hygiene graduate, when am I required to comply with continuing education requirements for my license renewal?
New graduates are not required to comply with the continuing education requirements until the second renewal of their license. In other words, you do not have to prove that you have taken the necessary continuing education credits to receive your initial license, or to receive your first license renewal. But the second time you renew your license, you must provide proof of compliance with the mandatory continuing education requirements.

How many of my continuing education courses may be obtained from individual correspondence courses?
By law, only 50% of your continuing education credits may be obtained from correspondence courses, and they must be given by a sponsor approved by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. For a list of approved sponsors, contact IDPR's licensure maintenance uni​t at 217/782-0458.

If I listen to an audiotape about a relative dental topic, does it qualify for continuing education credit?
Audiotapes do not qualify for continuing education credits unless they are accompanied by a test and given by an Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation-approved sponsor.

As a retired dentist on inactive status, am I required to comply with continuing education requirements?
No. Inactive, retired dentists are not required to comply with continuing education requirements. On the licensure renewal form, you can check the statement that says you want to waive your continuing education requirements due to retirement.

If I'm retired, may I still choose to maintain my license?
Yes. To maintain your license, you will need to comply with the continuing education requirements and prove you have taken the necessary 48 hours of continuing education each time you renew your license.

If I have extra credits (more than 48 hours of continuing education for a dentist, and more than 36 for a dental hygienist) at the end of a licensing period, may I carry them over to the next licensing period?
No. Any credits over 48 hours for dentist and 36 for dental hygienists cannot be carried over.

How many credits can I receive for presenting continuing education courses?
You can receive 50% of your mandated continuing education credits by presenting such courses. (This equals a maximum of 24 hours for dentists and 18 hours for dental hygienists.) You can only receive credit for the first presentation of your continuing education course. For example, if you present five two-hour courses on "What’s New in Oral Hygiene," you will only receive continuing education credits for the first presentation, for a total of two hours.

Can cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) re-certification be counted toward the continuing education requirements for dentists or hygienists?
Yes. Both Dentists and hygienists can obtain continuing education for a CPR course.