Virginia becomes fifth state to join compact

Legislation reduces barriers to license portability

Laura Givens

Virginia became the fifth state  to join the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact after Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R-Va., signed SB22 into law earlier this month.

Virginia joins Iowa, Washington, Tennessee and Wisconsin in passing the legislation. The interstate occupational licensure compact supports license portability by providing a legal pathway through which dental professionals can practice in all states participating in the compact instead of obtaining an individual license in every state they want to practice.  

According to Laura Givens, the Virginia Dental Association’s director of legislative and public policy, the ADA initially presented VDA leadership with details about the compact legislation in 2022. At the time, however, the VDA was hesitant and wanted to learn more about the legislation.

“I think there was some confusion on what the compact really would require as far as education and if it would hold up to the standards that we have in our state,” Ms. Givens said.

Many discussions took place internally, with other states and with the ADA over the following year, and after looking further into the compact details the VDA Board of Directors eventually felt comfortable with the language.

“They thought it was important to support the legislation as introduced during our 2024 session because this would mean that Virginia would be one of the first states to enact the law, and therefore we would have a seat at the table on the commission that will set the rules around it,” she said. “So that was really why we thought this was the time to introduce it. We wanted everyone to feel comfortable with it obviously, and they did.”

The compact will become active once it has been enacted by seven states, at which point a commission with one representative from each state will create the rules and application process. Any state that joins after the first seven will also have representation on the commission, and the representative will be a designee from each state’s licensing authority.

Like the rest of the country, Virginia is experiencing severe dental team workforce shortages. This is particularly acute with dental hygienists, Ms. Givens said, and many dental hygiene programs are currently struggling. The Virginia Dental Hygienists' Association has supported the compact legislation. 

“Because of these issues with workforce that we’ve faced over the last few years, this would be a big step forward to improve licensing ability and office recruitment, as well as facilitate improved access to needed oral health care. That’s the main goal,” Ms. Givens said. 

The compact will also benefit Virginia’s large military population by addressing the major relocating challenges for military dental professionals. Military personnel tend to have a high mobility rate and face barriers to employment and career development.

ADA President Linda J. Edgar, D.D.S., said the compact empowers dentists and dental hygienists to have more options in their lives and careers, as well as offers one pathway to address the ongoing workforce crisis. 

“The licensure compact is one critical part of a multi-faceted approach to address workforce shortages impacting our profession. Licensure portability creates opportunity for individual professionals and for the profession at large, and the ADA stands strongly behind the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact,” Dr. Edgar said. 

Ms. Givens highlighted that the compact would streamline the licensing process and eliminate waiting periods that many people experience when it comes to obtaining licensure. 

“The ultimate goal is that we will help benefit Virginians in need of dental care. So hopefully this will be an opportunity for dentists and hygienists to obtain that licensure and fill those needed positions so that they can see as many patients as possible and give them that care,” she said. 

Twelve additional states have introduced the compact, including Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

For more information about the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact, visit

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