Dentistry is a great career choice as pretty much everyone is a potential client. It’s an in-demand field, whether you’d like to work as part of a team or start your own practice. You have to be sure you’re comfortable with what dentists do, which is diagnosing and treating health issues which affect the mouth, teeth, and gums.
Dentists may do surgeries such as extractions, root canals, and tooth replacement, and provide preventative care such as tooth cleanings and giving oral hygiene guidance. As a dentist you’ll often use anesthetics to help minimize patient pain during treatments. You may perform and interpret x-rays of the teeth and jaws. Dental professionals may practice general oral care or work in specialized aspects. You may also have to work weekend or evenings to accommodate varying patient schedules. If dentistry still sounds like the right career for you, here are five tips to getting through dental school.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Most dental schools will require all applicants to hold at least a bachelor’s degree before acceptance. There are schools that will admit students after two or three years of undergraduate studies but allow earning a bachelor’s degrees as part of a dental program. Pre-dental course requirements will vary, but in general a solid background in biology, chemistry, and physics will qualify you for entry to a dental school.
Research Your Options
Check with your college counselor or organizations like the ASDA (American Student Dental Association) for programs that will help to prepare you for a dental career. They may have a list of specific coursework you need, or identify the best dental schools in your area and help with the admissions process. They may also be able to setup mentorship or intern programs so you can gain first-hand experience on the practice of dentistry. Compare several schooling options and note down what you need to gain admittance.
Pass the DAT
Prior to admission to a dental school, all aspiring students must pass the Dental Admissions Test. This evaluates your academic skills and scientific abilities. Some dental schools will require that you achieve a minimum score before acceptance. A high DAT score, however, will look good on your application along with other qualifications like a strong GPA and letters of recommendation.
Earn a Dental Degree
Qualifying as a dentist typically involves an additional four-year degree at a school accredited by the American Dental Association. The first two years tend to focus on classroom and laboratory work, while the last two emphasize clinical work under the supervision of licensed dentists in Statesville. On successful completion, you’ll earn a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) depending on your focus. Most states require completion of an accredited dental degree before you can be licensed to practice.
The details may vary by location, but every state requires licensure and passing a National Board Dental Examination. This is a two-part exam covering subjects like ethics, dental science, and clinical procedure. It’s currently graded on a Pass/Fail basis only, but may be required if going on to study certain dental specialties. Note that some states may also require satisfying other conditions, such as completion of first aid and CPR courses, background checks, or personal interviews.
Check with the ADA and your state’s Board of Dentistry on specific license questions or sources for continuing education. To avoid wasting time and money on your progress, you should do the research and plot your course of action now. After licensure, you can focus on specialization of certain skills or learning the latest techniques for a more rewarding career.