What It Takes To Become A Dentist

Dentistry is a rewarding career where you can help people in several ways. You’ll treat their teeth and gums, educate them on dental hygiene, and offer preventative oral health care. All these will enable you to improve patients’ well-being. You’ll help bring a smile to their faces and assist them in building confidence.  

If you’d like to pursue dentistry, you should learn more about this field. This way, you’ll know if it suits you. You should find out the different career paths you could take, identify an area you’d like to specialize in, and establish how long it takes to be a dentist.  

Besides that, you’ll notice that dentists either have Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) next to their names. Once you decide to pursue this career, you’ll be able to tell the difference between these two types of degrees.  

Discover more information about dentistry by exploring reliable online sites. Keep a record of what you learn for future use. You can also talk to a qualified practitioner or a recently graduated student. Find a day to sit down with them and carry a book to take notes.  

After doing your online research or speaking with a professional, review what they explained and the important details you acquired. Do more fact-finding if necessary to understand dentistry further. 

As you progress through the process, you’ll realize that dentistry requires more studying and training than other courses. But what exactly does it take to become a dentist? Continue reading to find out. 

  1. You Must Obtain An Undergraduate Degree 

Before joining a dental school, you must first have an undergraduate degree. Taking a biological science major can enhance your preparation for dental school. Other courses you could consider are those in physics, chemistry, and biology. These can help because they are related fields of study. Basically, what you learn in these courses will help you form a good foundation in dental studies.  

Besides an undergraduate course, it’s good to engage in extracurricular activities. This may be volunteering in community service, shadowing a professional dentist, and researching this field. These things can help your application to dental school. They’ll show admission committees that you love and are committed to dentistry.  

  1. You Have To Pass The Admissions Test 

After your undergraduate degree, you’ll take a Dental Admission Test (DAT). This examination, your bachelor’s score, and your reference letters will be some of the things the dental schools will check when reviewing your application.  

A DAT will test your knowledge in biology, organic and general chemistry, quantitative reasoning, perceptual ability, and reading comprehension. Aim for a higher mark to increase the chances of admission to a good dental school.  

If you don’t achieve the minimum score for an institution you’d like to join, you can retake the DAT. However, you may be required to wait 90 days after your last test. Also, you may have to pay a new examination or application fee. 

  1. You Need To Be Successful In Dental School 

After excelling in your bachelor’s degree and DAT test, you’ll finally get admitted to dental school. Here, you’ll study for four years. The first two will involve classroom studies while the remaining ones will involve practical work. You’ll participate in clinical activities, patient demonstrations, and treatment as part of your coursework.  

It helps to stay focused and committed to your studies. This raises the likelihood of succeeding in dental school. Talk to a counselor, your parents, or trusted friends if you need support. It’s also essential to network as you study. This enables you to meet people who’ll help you find a good job after graduating. 

  1. You Must Be Licensed 

After completing dental school successfully, you can now get a license. However, you may be required to take an exam. You might also have to sit for a clinical test. In some states, one may also need a certificate in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Additionally, you may undergo an interview and background check to establish your job suitability.  

Male african dentist examining a patient with tools in dental clinic. African female patient getting dental treatment in dental clinic
  1. You Can Select A Field To Specialize In 

After getting your license, you can choose to practice general dentistry. Alternatively, you can specialize in a certain field. This may be oral medicine, dental anesthesiology, endodontics, pediatric dentistry, or others. Choose a field in which you are interested, knowledgeable, and skilled. 

If you decide to specialize, you might take 2-6 years of residency, depending on your desired study area. After that, you can now serve as a dental professional. You can open your private clinic or join a group as an associate. Alternatively, you can work under another dentist or as a group practice employee.  

Final Thoughts 

Dentistry can be a good career if you’d love helping people by diagnosing, treating, and preventing oral health issues. However, before taking this path, you must first know all it takes to be a professional dentist.  

This article provides the necessary steps to achieve this dream. As provided, you must take an undergraduate degree, sit for an admission test, go to dental school, and get a license. After all these, you can become a general dentist or specialize in a desired field of study.