My story


My name is Meera Maveli. As a dentist trained in India, I know first hand the challenges faced by an international dentist when moving to USA. I started this website/blog to share my story and help other foreign trained dentists find viable options to study or practice in USA. Now that I’m an American Board Certified Periodontist, I feel that I have a different perspective as someone who has gone through all the different phases – exams, applications, interviews, graduation, job hunting, immigration etc.

There are few things worse than moving to a new country and realizing you have to start your professional education/career from scratch! I found myself in that predicament when I got married and moved to the US to live with my husband. My husband, Thomas Maveli, was at Loma Linda University (LLU) undergoing a dual Masters program in Prosthodontics and Implant Dentistry. Faced with multiple options in USA, I had to quickly determine my priorities.

  • One, I wanted to complete a Specialty program instead of an Advanced Standing program, even if it limited my practice to certain US states.
  • Two, I was interested in a surgical Specialty, so between Oral Surgery and Periodontics, I decided on Periodontics.
  • Third, since I did not want to be separated from my husband, the only place I wanted to apply to was the LLU Periodontics department.

Once I had come to this understanding, I had to turn the odds in my favour. I joined for a 6 month externship program in the LLU Periodontics department that let me assist the residents and attend all their classes. The faculty were able to see me perform in the exams and take part in journal discussions. I interviewed with the Periodontics Department the same year, but was waitlisted and told to re-apply next year. However, God worked a miracle when one of the selected candidates dropped out and I was offered a position in the program. So my husband and I had the pleasure of graduating together from the same university in 2014!! We both are now American Board Certified Specialists in our respective fields and have settled down in Texas.

foreign trained dentists in USA - Thomas C. Maveli DDS, MS (Prostho), Meera G. Maveli BDS, MS (Perio)

Thomas C. Maveli DDS, MS (Prostho), Meera G. Maveli BDS, MS (Perio)

I have multiple family members and friends who are dentists. Believe it or not but between my husband and I, we have 11 dentists in our families (excluding us)!!. Let’s just say, almost every conversation ends up in dental talk. I get asked constantly about how we made it into US dental programs and are able to practice in the US.

Since I’m currently a stay at home mom, I wanted to start a site to share my experiences and bring all the available resources to one place. The information currently available to foreign trained dentists is so scattered, outdated and sometimes not accurate. And there is so much that people don’t tell you because it’s embarrassing or they think they are a one-of case. That is why this site will have not only blog posts that I use to share pointers but also a resources page with a collection of all the information available on the internet and a forum to discuss specific topics.

To use this site to it’s full potential, I would advise that you subscribe, as well as participate and share your experiences by commenting below each post or starting a discussion group in the Forum. I will try my best to reply to your comments/emails and also cater the site to the needs of the audience. Here’s to a great future!!

Get access to exclusive content & updates on new posts

Here are a few examples of what's currently included: planners to keep you organized regarding your applications, downloadable forms and guides, practice tests, the contact information of state licensing boards & more!

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

40 thoughts on “My story

    • says:

      Thanks for the appreciation..I have soooo many things I want to share and make this process easier for others but my schedule is crazy right now with a one year old in the mix!

  1. pree says:

    hi meera thanks for all your efforts..i would like to do the fellowship at lomalinda too..can you please share more details about it and where can we practise after that?

  2. Shrinkhala Shree Kapoor says:

    Hi, Dr. Meera.

    Reading your bio, made me felt so thankful of you that you even thought of blogging it to help others. You might not even have the idea how much a tremendous help it is to finally come across a blog which actually clears doubts, instead of increasing them.

    Huge thanks.

  3. dr swati joshi asopa says:

    hi dr. maveli,
    read your blog, its very inspiring and informative too.
    I am an Indian prosthodontist, worked for 4 years now. I was going through the admission requirements for the same program on LLU page, I saw nbde is only needed for US studies dentist. Does that mean as an international dentist I won’t need this exam scores? I am interested in advance standing program
    kindly help.

    • says:

      Hi Swati,
      You will need NBDE scores regardless of the program you apply to…some programs may say they don’t need it but even if you get accepted into a program, you will need to pass NBDE’s to apply for licensing exams. So get it out of the way!

      • dr swati joshi asopa says:

        Hi Meera,
        thank you for your prompt response, I m already studying and taking part-1 by April, as I’ve heard INBDE is soon taking over. I m planning to apply for DDS & advance learning once I clear part-2 as well. I hope my Indian career experience so far nd future examination results can help me get through the program as I won’t be able to take up anymore future courses to enhance my application due to my age, finance and visa constraints.

  4. Dr.Parvathi Devi says:

    hi dr.meera…im an aspiring dentist to migrate to USA.. hope all information would defenitely add to my efforts to make my dream come true

  5. Nerea Robles says:

    Hello Dr. Meera! I am Dr. Nerea from Mexico City and I am currently a third year Periodontics resident. I am an American citizen (born in Connecticut) and I am pursuing a dental career in the U.S. I have been doing all the research about the licensure requirements and dental schools and it is such a relief to find your page 🙂 I have some questions:

    – I am still undecided wether to apply to International Programs or to a Periodontics program (I love Perio and I would go for it again), because I am not sure if going for an IDP would allow me to work as a Periodontist and to be Board Certified or if it is mandatory to study Periodontics in the U.S. to be called a Periodontist and be Board Certified even if I have the Periodontics mexican certificate. Also I would like to live in Connecticut, Texas or Washington, so I wouldn’t mind if going for a specialty limits my practice to certain states.
    – In Texas are you still considered a BDS or are you considered a DDS o DMD?
    – What type of financial aid did you request? Since I am an American citizen, I believe I am elegible for a federal loan, but I am kind of worried about the debt I will have at the end of the program I choose. What do you recommend?
    – Did you use any study material for the NBDEs? How hard is it? Any recommendations or sources for study materials?

    Thank you very much for this amazing page and all the info you have shared! It has been totally useful for me and I have cleared a lot of doubts.

    ¡Gracias y saludos!

    • says:

      Hi Nerea, thank you for all the kind words!
      Regarding your questions
      1. I would say apply to Perio programs because you can appear for the American Board of Periodontology only if you have a US Perio certificate.
      2. I’m still considered a BDS because I haven’t gone through the Advanced Standing Programs to get the DDS/DMD certificates.
      3. I was fortunate to have my family support my education but you will find federal loans to be a good route compared to private loans. I will be writing a post on what to look for when applying for a student loan. Stay tuned!
      4. NBDE prep was harder before because it was scored and you had to get the maximum score. Now with it being pass/fail, I feel it’s less demanding. Not everyone may agree 😋 I’m writing a post soon about how to prep for it. Basically, dental decks and ASDA released papers were my primary sources. And I looked up stuff I didn’t know on google or textbooks.
      All the best!

  6. Marcia Berger says:

    Good evening Dr Meera,
    It is very inspiring your blog. I was loosing my hope to be a dentist here in USA but reading your tips it made me dream again. I would like to make you a question about the NBDE , did you study by yourself ? Is there a course that you can take so they help you to score the test?
    Thank you very much

    • says:

      Hi Marcia, I’m glad that the blog gave you hope! I did study for NBDE by myself, I prefer that but if you like to study with a partner, look in Facebook groups for NBDE prep and ask if there is anyone near you. You can also study with a partner in Skype/whatsapp. It helps you keep you accountable and there is less chance of you slacking. I will be writing a post soon on how to study for NBDE.
      There are a couple of courses – I’m not sure how much you will need them. They were more relevant when NBDE was a scored exam and you had to get above 90 to have a chance into getting into a program. Now since the exam is pass/fail, it’s not that demanding. All the best!

  7. Dheva says:

    Dear Meera
    Such a great web page with wealth of information. I graduated from India in 2004, cleared Australian Dental exams, practicing in Australia for the last 9 years.i did 1 year fellowship in implantology and currently doing Master’s programme for clinicians in implant dentistry from Melbourne university, want to move to US.. what’s the best path to choose?
    All of my family members in US, I feel left out in Australia.. I

    • says:

      I can totally understand why you want to move to the US..but unfortunately the criteria is the steps are the same. My post explains the steps involved. Since you have family settled in the US, I’m guessing you already know which state you will want to practice in. Check out or contact the dental board in that state for the requirements to practice and plan accordingly. All the best!

      • Dheva says:

        Thank you very much for your kind and detailed reply Meera. Yeah. My family living in Cali.i would love to do perio, esp I want to Persie my career as an implantologist. To study Masters in Periodontology,still do I have to study IDP for two years? Or can I apply directly for Periodontology? Thank you very much for your valuable time.

        • says:

          You can apply directly to Perio. Cali has 5 dental schools so go to town applying for them. You won’t be able to practice in Cali as soon as you graduate from Perio because California requires a DDS. But they do have reciprocity for dental licensure meaning after 5 years of work in another state, you can apply for Cali license. The way around that is, 2yrs of your specialty education is considered as work experience and make up the rest with working as full time faculty in any of the dental schools – full time faculty are allowed to practice in the faculty practice as school but you will not have a private license to work outside the school. Once 3yrs is done, you can apply for a regular Cali dental license 😊

          • Dheva says:

            Thank you so much Meera. I can understand being a periodontist and spending time for unknown person to help means, it shows your kind heart and helping tendency!I have no words to thank you🙏🙏🙏🙏

            Just wondering still I need to pass NBDE 1&2?

            Also can I apply directly to each department? In respective university?

            Thank you so much! May God bless you with loads of happiness!

            Thank you 🙏🙏🙏🎉🎊

            • says:

              Nbde is still required but it is dependent on the individual program requirements..check the websites. You will still need to pass NBDE to apply for regional licensing exams once you are ready to graduate ( when you get into a program) so I would advise you to get it over with before you join. Whether you apply directly or through PASS will be mentioned on their websites.

              • Dheva says:

                Thank you so much Meera🙏
                Sure , I’ll start preparing for board exams.Would you recommend any course to prepare for board exams?i have all the necessary stuff like first aid, dental decks, AsDA past papersetc. Since I m practising in Australia all 5 days, I feel like an online course would be better for me. I saw many.. but would you recommend any?

                Your recommendation means a lot to me!

                Thank you so much for your help Meera!

                Planning to visit my family end of this year and may give Part-1.

                Thank you!

  8. PRERNA says:

    thanks Meera mam its inspiring to hear from you. I am a MDS PERIODONTIST FROM India and husband a Pedodontist (Manipal) .we are wanting to immigrate to USA AND are presently looking through options of dentistry in Usa. we have come across AEGD (ADVANCED EDUCATION IN GENERAL DENTISTRY ) PROGRAMS WHICH ARE CODA APPROVED ADA RECOGNISED SPECIALITIES PREFERABLY IN STATES LIKE FL,IN,KY,OH,OR,VA,WA,WI .
    we are planning that one of us prepare for DDS and the other who finds a correct program related to his /her specialty… get a license and start working.
    1)mam can you guide us.
    2))MAM please if could suggest that as we both are specialist can we continue pursuing our specialities through any ada approved programs in Usa?how to go about finding a correct program.
    2)also do you have any idea what is the pay scale for such programs ?
    3)and also for AEGD DO WE NEED NBDE SCORES.?


    • says:

      1. As mentioned before, you can practice in the US if you get through any US-based CODA approved specialty – only thing is that your practice will be limited to certain states. In specialties, Perio might be a bit easier to get into than Pedo though the job market is better at the moment for Pedodontists. I would advise you to research different Universities/Specialties and where international dentists have been accepted before by asking in forums like SDN.
      2. Most programs (especially those open to taking international dentists) do not pay, they are tuition-based, meaning you pay them to learn (around 15,000 a quarter, so nearly $50-60,000/year).
      3. You will probably not need NBDE to apply for AEGD programs but you will need to complete the exam before graduating to be able to apply for the licensing clinical exam. So it will have to be done at some point.
      All the best!

      • PRERNA says:

        thank you mam for your detailed and valuable reply.i will look into SDN forum .and mam for the licensing exam do they need fresh nbde scores or we can give the exam before entering that particular program .nbde scores valid for how long??
        I am also looking into residency programs that accept foreign dentist only there acceptance rate is quite low.if any college or program you can would be great help.

        your blog is quite helpful for seeking information….thankyou so much.!!

        • says:

          As such there is no validity to the NBDE scores but the states you apply to may keep restrictions on the time lapses since the exam meaning when you apply to the particular states for licensure, they will specify that the NBDE scores be within 5-10 years.

  9. Sultan says:

    Dear dr Meera ,
    It’s a very nice blog you have
    I really appreciate the effort you are spending to look at massages and answears all questions
    I am still doing well and happy with my job here In my country
    And they are paying me quite well not much different with a junior dentist in America
    Off course you have to add the expense of life in America
    But due to family reasons I decided to move to the US !
    I didn’t expect the requirement needed to work as a dentist in America
    And as they said America recognize what’s in America only !
    Well i am practicing as a general dentist in my country for almost 10 years now
    Within the last 3 years i decided to focus more on dental implant
    Something which I really like to do I attended many courses and workshop in Europe and assisted in many implant placement as well surgical like sinus lift and bone graft
    Unfortunately I didn’t find any Coda accredited implant program in America
    But still looking forward to be an implantologist ! Any how is there any possibility to limit my practice to Dental implant . I found some Implant program for 2 years but they are only ADA accredited or with awarded certificate . How can such degree help me in starting my career in America ?
    I recently appliead to a one year program in implant for international dentist with an awarded certificate
    Which might help me in the future in admission to other program in implant
    Also I don’t mind working for few years outside Ohio
    But in the long term I would like to settle down in the state of Ohio
    Thanking you
    Dr Sultan

    • says:

      There are no CODA approved implant programs because implant dentistry as such is not considered a recognized dental specialty. If you want to practice in the US, you need to go through a CODA approved dental program- either Advanced standing DDS, AEGD, GPR or specialty programs. Unfortunately there is no other shortcut.
      I do know that Loma Linda had a 2 year implant certificate program that can result in a masters certificate (MS or MSD).
      To practice in Ohio, you will need 2 year AEGD/GPR/DDS from a CODA approved dental program.
      All the best!

  10. kym says:

    Hi Meera!
    I just graduated high school in California but had to move back to Spain due to my family not being able to afford U.S. universities. I will begin an undergraduate dentistry degree in Europe and I already want to go back to the US. I’ve been reading your posts to prepare early and know the steps i have to take in order to work in California.
    As of right now i am searching for faster ways to be able to work in California, but I am confused whether a Specialty program or an IDP is a better way to go. Thoughts?
    Hope to hear from you soon!

    • says:

      To work in California, you will need to do IDP. Specialty program will only let you apply for CA license by reciprocity, meaning you will need to work 3 yrs in another state with a valid dental license (altogether 5 yrs, 2yrs of specialty will be considered as work) before you can apply to CA.
      All the best!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *