How To Become A Dentist – A Guide To A Career In Dentistry

A career in dentistry can be gratifying. Not only will those who choose this career path be able to provide patients with improved oral health, but dentists make an average of $150,000 to $210,000 a year. However, it takes hard work to reach that goal. Below is a quick guide on how to become a dentist.

High School

High school requires many people to begin making plans for their future. If dentistry is an interest, it is essential to understand what it takes to be a dentist. In addition, students must know that, before becoming a dentist, they must first be willing to invest eight years or more in their post-high school education.

Individuals considering dentistry must also have good hand-eye coordination, work well with the public, and be able to deal with blood and other fluids of the mouth. Dentistry can be ugly, but the result is quite rewarding.

High school students should ensure that they take the necessary classes to get into a four-year college. Dentistry requires an in-depth knowledge of math and science. Therefore, it is essential that high school students take higher-level math and science course to prepare for their future education. It is also a necessary factor in getting into a good four-year college.

Bachelor's Degree

Although a handful of dentistry schools offer an accelerated admissions program with only two or three years of undergraduate studies, most dental schools require a bachelor's degree for entry.

Some colleges offer a pre-dentistry undergraduate program. However, dental schools do not require a specific major for entry. Nevertheless, dental schools do have specific requirements that any applicant must fulfill before applying.

Most dental schools require that the student take a heavy course load of upper-level science and math classes. In addition, the student's GPA must be above the required limit for that particular school. Often, a 3.0 GPA is needed to gain access to dental school successfully. However, each dental school has requirements that anyone interested should explore as early as possible.

The next step while in college is to take the DAT. The Dental Admissions Test, or DAT, is a requirement for dental school. Passing this examination shows that students have the aptitude and potential for success at dental school.

Work and Organizations

Some dental schools are competitive, meaning they only accept those at the top of the application list. Therefore, students with higher grades, extracurricular activities, and organizational participation will have the edge over other students.

Some potential dental school students join organizations focusing on dentistry or the sciences. Working in a dentist's office can also help prepare students for dental school. Many dentists will hire students to work at the desk or help around the office to become more comfortable in this field.

It is also a good idea to speak with admission counselors at the dental school or schools the student may be interested in attending. The admission counselors provide all the information and the prerequisites required to become a student at their school.

Dental School

Once admitted to dental school, the real work begins. Classwork and lab instruction fill the first two years of dental school. The focus of this material is on primary health sciences. Students will start working on actual patients in the final two years of school. This work will be under the supervision of trained and licensed faculty.

Once dental school is complete, students will be dentists. The students will graduate with one of two degrees, either a Doctor of Dental Medicine, DMD, or a Doctor of Dental Surgery, DDS. These degrees are identical and require the same training. Although technically a dentist, students must first complete the National Dental Board exam to obtain their license so they can practice.

After Dental School

Once dental school is complete and a license is acquired, students can begin their careers as either general or family dentists. However, some individuals continue their training to specialize in different fields of dentistry.

Students must enter a residency program to continue their education in a specialized field. These programs include dental anesthesiology, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and other specialized areas. Most residency programs last two to three years. However, when planning to go into oral and maxillofacial surgery, this residency program may last four to six years.

It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to become a dentist. However, the profession can be very fulfilling and financially rewarding.

Brought To You By: Garland K. Davis, DDS

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