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The Success Guide for Internationally Trained Dentists to Pass the NDEB

By Karen Nunez

Internationally trained dentists (ITDs) bring an innovative, diverse, and cultural perspective to the Canadian workforce as they move to the country. As Prime Minister Trudeau likes to say: “Diversity is our strength.” 

That said, integrating into the Canadian workforce can be challenging for many. After moving to Canada, ITDs are forced to navigate a different health care system with various laws and regulations. 

For one, internationally trained dentists may be ill-informed about professional etiquette and oral health care team structures. On top of that, there are language barriers, cultural differences, feelings of isolation, and economic realities. As a result, the abrupt and significant change warrants most ITDs to take the NDEB exams (National Dental Examining Board of Canada). 

Passing the exam confirms that though you are an internationally trained dentist, you meet the Canadian standard for dental knowledge, competence, and skills. You must pass this examination if you want to practice dentistry in Canada. So without further ado, here’s a bite-sized guide to help you succeed in passing the exams. 


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Mosby’s Review for the NBDE

Part I (General Science)

Mosby’s review for the NBDE provides the most up-to-date information for part 1 of the national board dental examination. The book is loaded with illustrations, informative examples, pictures, and comprehensive tables that aid in memorizing and comparing information. 

After each section, it also offers sample questions to ensure you understand what you’re reading to maximize exam prep.

The minor drawback is that the pictures are in black and white, limiting the realistic visual learning aid when reading a labeled diagram. 

Part II (Biomedical & Dental Sciences)

The second part of Mosby’s review goes more in-depth with specialized segments and surgical procedures. There are about 450 diagrams and photographs for reference complementing medical and dental subjects. Tables and text boxes also provide extra information and highlight essential data from the topics. 

And again, to maximize exam prep, you have 450 questions waiting at the end of the book with the correct answers and explanations. 

Both books are good, but you should always choose the latest edition to make sure you’re studying the most updated information. 

Use Flashcards

Engage in active memory to recall concepts, vocabulary, and processes minus the distraction. Using flashcards allows you to repeat the learning and memorizing until you get the information etched in your brain.

What's more, this effective study tool is proven to help learners retain factual knowledge. You wonder how?

It provides stronger neuron connections - active recall when using flashcards facilitates an activity in your brain to make multiple memory-enhancing effects. This engaging movement in your brain leads to 150% better retention than passive studying.

Flashcards are effective because they prompt you to pull information out of your latent memory, rather than just reading it, and thus, helps you ace the tests.




2017-2018 Edition Dental Decks For NBDE Part 1 (Volume 13)

Features 1,300 individual flashcards formatted with a question on the front and a detailed answer and topic review at the back.

Key Topics:

Anatomic Sciences Microbiology


Dental Anatomy and Occlusion

Ethics and Patient Management




Dental Decks for NBDE Part 2 (Volume 13) 2017-2018 Edition

Over 1,400 individual flashcards were formatted with a question at the front and a detailed answer and topic review at the back. reviews all the areas covered in the NDEB exam.

Key Topics Include;

Operative - Pharmacology - Prosthodontics - Patient Management and Pediatric Dentistry

Orthodontics - Periodontics - Endodontics

Oral Surgery/Pain Control - Oral Pathology - Radiology


First Aid for the NBDE

Part I

This two-part series can be compared to Mosby’s review. It offers the same review curriculum, except the unique touch is that it’s written by students who have written the exam themselves. That way, you get performance-enhancing tips from former students, once like you, who have been there and done that

Over 200 illustrations and clinical photographs help clarify concepts and hundreds of high-yield facts and mnemonics that aid in memorization. It has been rated 4.7 out of 5 and described as “easy-to-read” and “concise,” thanks to students who understood the struggle of convoluted medical talk.

Part II

The second part is about more practical applications. Part II flexes an entire database of exam questions, timed practice questions, sample cases, answers, and rationales, and a custom test generator that mimics the NBDE II with instant feedback.

This allows students to uniquely engage with an interactive learning platform, which has shown to be six times more effective than regular learning.  


Improve Your Memory & Focus

One of the most demanding skills of a dentist is a strong memory. You must remember all the theories and practices not only for that NDEB (National Dental Examining Board of Canada) test but for your hands-on dental practice, too. Here are two books to help in that department:


How to Develop a Perfect Memory – Dominic O’Brien

Dominic is a World Memory Champion who recommends five highly effective retention practices that aspiring internationally trained dentists about to take the NDEB can do. 

Though some are born with a photographic memory, a “perfect” memory can still be developed through these tips, says Dominic, giving you an advantage in the exam room. Be sure to use them while you’re reading the recommended NDEB review books!

Remember that not everyone has a strong imagination–which many of the memory practices are dependent on. Some of the mentioned practices may or may not work as well for you.  


Deep Work - Cal Newport

With about 6000 five-star reviews, Deep Work offers actionable advice, anecdotes, and essential lessons on focusing without distraction. It’s written to teach readers how to master complicated information and produce better results in a shorter time. That is, quite literally, what you need to be successful in the timed NDEB exams. 

As with most books authored by great professors and masters in their field, the book does weigh a little heavy on anecdotal references and fluff from their long life. The information is solid, but it could’ve been condensed into a third of the book. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile read, and many find the life stories and experiences deeply insightful and excellent practical examples of his lessons. 


Take supplements to Boost Concentration

Alongside practical memory retention and intense focusing tips, there are highly effective supplements that you can take mental clarity and concentration: 


Neuronol - Brain Health Formula

Many students attest that this clinically tested and FDA-approved product gave them a much-needed boost by alleviating stress and defogging their brain to improve memory. The capsules contain 8 cognitive-enhancing chemicals, 5 of which directly boost your memory.

Customers often complain about the expensive price tag, but it’s a given with the cognitive benefits thanks to Dignity Bio-lab’s proprietary blend. Also, note that taking this supplement can result in restlessness, as it’s a cognitive booster, not calmer. So, be wary of taking it at night near bedtime. 


BrainMend – Advanced Brain Booster

BrainMend was specially designed to push you through those all-nighters with the power of lion mane mushroom, which has been shown to significantly improve mental clarity and give you proper focus.

The Canadian-made supplement also boosts memory with the help of Bacopa Monnieri–a herbal plant in Ayurvedic medicine. Taking these pills near your study sessions weeks before your exam will give you better clarity and focus by the exam date, where you’ll be more than prepared.  

One drawback is that these vegetarian capsules, though effective, are again pricey, and for a budget-conscious student, it may be a problem buying them regularly. Rest assured, the value and cognitive benefits are worth it. After passing the exam and starting your dentist career, these supplements will be small yet worthwhile investments in hindsight.


Parting Words

Taking the NDEB (National Dental Examining Board of Canada) test can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re an internationally trained dentist with little study-sense on what to review or learn in a country with one of the most advanced healthcare systems. 

You’re not alone. But now you’re familiar with the best resources for tips and supplements in the game, recommended by Canadian oral health professionals themselves (that’s us!). By following the directions in this article, you’ll gain a considerable advantage and perform well on the NDEB.

So, are you ready to take the NDEB exam?


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