FAQ on name change and licensing

Changing one’s name due to marriage or other reasons can lead to confusion for both dentists and patients. Keep in mind that whatever name you elect to use personally or professionally, ensure that the proper name is used on all pertinent documents. This means you need to check your Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) number, state drug license, malpractice insurance policy, employer identification number, etc.

The following are some frequently asked questions about the impact of changing your name, according to the ADA Center for Professional Success.

Q: If I have a change of name, say as a result of a marriage, may I go by my new name professionally?

A: Yes. Many dentists who change their name (as a result of marriage or other circumstance) use their new name professionally. However, some dentists who change their name as a result of marriage choose to use their new name personally, but continue to practice using their pre-marital name, to maintain familiarity with patients. This is a personal decision.

Q: What do I need to do if I choose to use my new name in the professional setting?

A: If you decide to go by your new name professionally, you should change your previous name to your new name on all relevant documents and across all relevant institutions. This includes changing your name on your insurance, with the Drug Enforcement Administration, on all paperwork associated with your dental practice, and your dental license.

Q: If I legally change my name, am I required to change the name on my license?

A: Maybe. Your state dental board may or may not require you to change your license name if you have a legal name change. (As noted above, some dentists may choose to retain the name they had been using professionally). However, some state dental boards do require you to inform the board of your legal name change and to do so within a certain time frame, such as 60 days, of such change. This is to maintain accurate contact information for the board. It is best to check with your state dental board to verify their requirements.

Q: What is the process for changing my name on my license?

A: State dental board processes vary, but generally include:

  • A requirement to submit a name change request to the state dental board
  • Legal documentation to show the name change (e.g. a marriage license, divorce decree, or court order showing the name change)
  • A small fee to receive a new wall license

In addition, some states will require you to return your current license.

Q: Whom do I contact if I have further questions?

A: Always contact your state dental board if you have any questions about licensing-related issues.

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