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The Academy of Laser Dentistry has formally adopted the Curriculum Guidelines and Standards for Dental Laser Education, initially developed in July 1992 and revised in 1998, through a consensus process with members from dental academia, industry and private practice. These guidelines establish standards of education for the demonstration of safe and effective use of lasers by dental professionals. The education committee of the Academy of Laser Dentistry regularly reviews and interprets these educational standards.

Levels of Dental Laser Education

The Academy formally recognizes four levels of dental laser certification: 

  1. Introductory
  2. Standard Proficiency
  3. Advanced Proficiency
  4. Educator Status

Introductory Course

This certification level encompasses an understanding of laser physics and the uses of lasers in dentistry. It is intended to be informational and primarily didactic. There is no examination. This course is a pre-requisite for the standard level of recognition.  The ALD offers an Introduction to Lasers Course online (coming soon). Currently, this is a free course requiring only that you register.  This level may be attained by particating in any ADA CERP or AGD PACE laser course with proper completion documentation. 

To Register, visit our complete Online Course Catalog.

Basic Competency Course

This course is an introductory course designed to introduce the novice laser user or potential user to the basic scientific principles involved with laser dentistry, the safety concerns associated with laser utilization, the potential uses of a laser in the dental practice and to provide a hands on experience using one or more lasers.  It is intended to give the participant a basic understanding of the principles necessary to assure safe and efficacious use of lasers for the health and welfare of the patient as this should be the first step toward becoming clinically competent.  This is not intended to be a comprehensive course, nor is it a marker for recognizing a level of proficiency.  The course will not be an exhaustive education in the technological developments, nor in the most current research findings.

The scope of the course itself is limited and will be determined by the needs of the participants and the material presented by the instructor.  It could, for example, be designed for a specific device, a particular wavelength, multiple wavelengths or for hygiene or specialist use only.  The course must be a minimum of six hours in length, contain a hands on opportunity and a learning assessment instructment of 25 questions and a minimum of one hour period of supervised participation using animal specimen material or vegetable matter to simulate and develop the feel for clinical usage.

This course is a pre-requisite for the standard level of recognition.

For a list of upcoming courses, please visit our ALD CE Calendar.

Standard Proficiency 

Components of Standard Proficiency include:

  • A Lecture and Hands-On Course provided by an ALD Recognized Course Provider (RCP)
  • A Clinical Simulation Exam administered by the RCP
  • A 75 question Written or Online Exam administered by the Academy of Laser Dentistry

Standard Proficiency is the basic level of education in dental laser usage, including specific laser proficiency and laboratory knowledge. Candidates for standard proficiency must demonstrate basic understanding of all wavelengths via a written or online 75-question multiple choice examination and a clinical simulation proficiency exam, with at least one wavelength. The standard proficiency level defines the standard of care for the dental professional. The standard level of proficiency also forms the base credential for progressing to the Advanced Proficiency level. Successful candidates at the Standard Proficiency level can submit for the advanced examination immediately after obtaining their Standard Proficiency.  Standard Proficiency courses are held throughout the year by speakers who are ALD Recognized Course Providers.  During any SP course, attendees will take the Clinical Simulation Exam.  The 75-question multiple choice examination is only administered through the ALD or ALD Recognized Course Provider and may require an additional exam registration fee. Check with your Recognized Course Provider to determine if the exam fees are included in the course registration or not included. You must complete the Standard Proficiency written or online exam immediately following the course. In 2017, all exams will be administered in a proctored setting.

Pre-Requisites for Standard Proficiency Application

  1. Successful completion of a recognized introduction to lasers course is a mandatory prerequisite for ALD Standard Proficiency Certification. The required hours needed to satisfy this prerequisite are equal to or greater than 2.5 credit hours. The introductory material should be approved at the discretion of the Academy or the Recognized Standard Proficiency Course Provider.
  2. A basic understanding of Lasers in Dentistry.

Pre-Requisite for the Standard Proficiency Written or Online Exam

  1. Successful completion of an Academy of Laser Dentistry Recognized Standard Proficiency Course and Clinical Simulation Exam provided by an ALD Recognized Course Provider.

IF YOU'VE COMPLETED A STANDARD PROFICIENCY COURSE FROM A RECOGNIZED COURSE PROVIDER OR YOU ARE ATTENDING AN UPCOMING STANDARD PROFICIENCY COURSE AND WOULD LIKE TO PAY FOR THE ALD WRITTEN OR ONLINE EXAMINATION, please click this direct link: Online Standard Proficiency Exam.  You will need to provide your course code and Clinical Simulation Exam wavelength details. Effective May 1, 2017, the fee for the Standard Proficiency Exam is $175.  

Successful Standard Proficiency Completion

Upon successful completion of the written or online exam you will receive a letter from the Academy of Laser Dentistry (within 6-8 weeks) indicating your Continuing Education Credits for the exam. ALD members will also receive a Certificate of Successful Completion noting the specific course participation and clinical simulation wavelength. To find out more about membership in the Academy of Laser Dentistry, or to join online, click here.

Overall Expected Learner Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the Standard Proficiency Examination, expected learner outcomes include demonstration of the basic level of education in dental laser usage, including specific laser proficiency and laboratory knowledge. Successful learners demonstrate an understanding of all wavelengths via a 75-question multiple choice written examination and clinical proficiency simulation examination with at least one wavelength. Participants in the Standard Proficiency Written or Online Examination are required to have successfully completed a 12-hour Standard Proficiency course and Clinical Simulation Examination with an ALD Recognized Course Provider. This level defines the standard of care for the dental professional.

ALD Policy and Procedure for Recognition of Standard Proficiency Dental Laser Courses

A list of Academy of Laser Dentistry Recognized Standard Proficiency Course Providers (RCPs) can be found here. The Academy of Laser Dentistry initially launched the process for renewal and recognition of dental laser course providers in October 1999. This process follows the standards of education set forth in the Curriculum Guidelines and Standards for Dental Laser Education. Only an ALD certificate from an Academy-recognized Standard Proficiency Course can be used to make application for the Advanced Proficiency examination. An applicant who has taken a non-recognized course would not be accepted.

Advanced Proficiency

There are 3 parts to attaining Advanced Proficiency recognition from the Academy of Laser Dentistry.  Advanced Proficiency is taken over a 2-3 year period to successful completion.  To apply for the Advanced Proficiency Online Exam, you must register for the next annual conference and select Advanced Proficiency on your conference registration application.  Please ensure you meet the application requirements before applying.

Click here to apply: Advanced Proficiency Certification Exams.

Advanced Certification Part I - Online Exam
Advanced Certification Part II - Clinical Simulation Exam
Advanced Certification Part III - Case Study Presentation

This level represents advanced knowledge and clinical experience with the dental laser. Learners for advanced level recognition will demonstrate knowledge of all laser wavelengths via an online written examination, demonstrate advanced clinical proficiency using the dental laser of their choosing in the Clinical Simulation Exam, plus dental practitioners who use the laser for treatment must also prepare five (5) clinical case studies and be prepared to present a minimum of two of them at an ALD annual conference.  These should be the cases with the highest degree of difficulty following the Clinical Case Study Guidelines that are provided to candidates upon application.  Successful participation in all 3 parts of Advanced Proficiency is required to meet this level of education. Separate application fees and requirements apply for each part. Advanced Proficiency exceeds the standard of care for the dental professional. A Laser Safety Officer does not participate in the Clinical Case Presentation section.

Application Requirements for Advanced Proficiency

  • Applicant must be a licensed dentist, hygienist, dental assistant, office manager or industry representative, etc. wishing to attain Advanced Proficiency recognition.
  • Applicant must have achieved Standard level recognition approved by the Academy of Laser Dentistry.
  • Applicant must be a member of the Academy of Laser Dentistry and must maintain ALD membership during the AP process and of course we hope well beyond!
  • Candidates must attend a minimum of 2 ALD Annual Conferences during the Advanced Proficiency process before the award can be earned.
  • Successful participation in all 3 parts of Advanced Proficiency is required to meet this level of education. Passing mark of 85% is required on Parts II and III. Separate applications for each part are required.

 Advanced Proficiency Criteria  (updated December 12, 2016)

  1. The Advanced Proficiency Online Written Examination is administered via computer, in a proctored setting, at an ALD Conference or Meeting.  To register for the Advanced Proficiency Online Written Exam, you must be registered for an ALD Conference or Meeting. The Advanced Proficiency candidate is expected to have a level of knowledge above and beyond that which is required for the Standard Proficiency level examination.  Applicants may apply for the Advanced Proficiency Online Written Exam AND the Clinical Simulation Examination at the same time.  Please ensure that you meet the application requirements before submitting your application.   

  2. As a courtesy to the individual study required for success, ALD provides a mentorship program for candidates.  Applicants are encouraged to meet regularly with their assigned AP mentor during their preparations. 

  3. The Clinical Simulation Examination passing mark is 85%. The Clinical Simulation exam is administered in person during an ALD Conference or Meeting. Please reference the Clinical Simulation Guideline documents, Exam Grade Sheets and Advanced Proficiency Policies and Procedures Manual upon application.  Candidates should be able to address all the points on the Clinical Simulation Exam grade sheet within a 30-minute time frame.  This part is timed to 30 minutes. Candidates are notified of their time slot approximately 1 week prior to the exam date.  

Clinical Case Presentation of Advanced Proficiency Criteria

  1. Clinical Case Examination passing mark is 85%.  The Clinical Case Presentation Exam is administered in person during an ALD Conference or Meeting. Clinical Case Submission Guidelines, Checklists and Exam Grade sheets are provided upon application.
  2. Passing the Written Examination AND the Clinical Simulation Exam is a pre-requisite for presenting the Clinical Case Examination.
  3. Applicants may begin documenting clinical cases and obtaining the required photographs as soon as you apply for the Advanced Proficiency Program. Close contact with your assigned mentor is strongly suggested as you prepare your clinical cases.  Strict adherence to the level of difficulty of selected cases is typical. 
  4. You may present your Clinical Cases any time it is offered after 1-year of successfully completing both the Online Exam and the Clinical Simulation Exam.  This means there is a minimum preparation period of 2 years before you may present your Clinical Cases, if you begin your case selections when you apply for AP. Most candidates take 3 years to complete this level of proficiency status.
  5. Clinical Case Presentations must be completed within a 3-year time limit has elapsed after completing the Online Written Exam and the Clinical Simulation exam. 

Educator Status

This level is only offered periodically by the Academy. There is no Educator Course currently scheduled.  Contact the Academy for future course offerings.

Certification Program Background & Overall Educational Objectives

The educational objective of the Academy's Laser Certification Program is to provide candidates with an overview of the scientific fundamentals of lasers, the instruments used, safety issues, and clinical guidelines in accordance with the Curriculum Guidelines and Standards for Dental Laser Education. A main objective of the Academy of Laser Dentistry is to develop and uphold educational and clinical standards for the use of lasers in dentistry and to promote the safe and effective laser use on patients. Successful completion of the certification program formally demonstrates knowledge and clinical proficiency in laser dentistry. The program is a structured educational mechanism for dental practitioners wishing to demonstrate high standards of dental laser use. This certificate program does not authorize the holder to practice outside the scope of his or her license.

Position Statement (01-27-2003) Laser Use by Licensed Dental Professionals