• Dentistry

    Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.

    Dentists typically do the following:

    • Remove decay from teeth and fill cavities
    • Repair cracked or fractured teeth and remove teeth
    • Place sealants or whitening agents on teeth
    • Administer anesthetics to keep patients from feeling pain during procedures
    • Prescribe antibiotics or other medications
    • Examine x-rays of teeth, gums, the jaw, and nearby areas in order to diagnose problems
    • Make models and measurements for dental appliances, such as dentures, to fit patients
    • Teach patients about diets, flossing, the use of fluoride, and other aspects of dental care

    "Dentists use a variety of equipment, including x-ray machines, drills, mouth mirrors, probes, forceps, brushes, and scalpels. They also use lasers, digital scanners, and other computer technologies, such as digital dentistry. In addition, dentists in private practice oversee a variety of administrative tasks, including bookkeeping and buying equipment and supplies. They employ and supervise dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians, and receptionists.

    Most dentists are general practitioners and handle a variety of dental needs. Other dentists practice in 1 of 9 specialty areas: dental public health specialists, endodontists, oral and maxillofacial radiologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, oral pathologists, orthodontists, pediatric dentists, periodontists, and prosthodontists.”

    Prerequisite Coursework

    All dental schools require applicants to have completed certain science courses, such as biology and chemistry, before entering dental school.

    Here is a general list of common requirements:

    Two semesters of biology with lab
    Two semesters of general chemistry with lab
    Two semesters of organic chemistry with lab
    Two semesters of physics with lab
    Other: DAT (Dental Admissions Test), letters of recommendation, and personal interviews are typically required

    Relevant Experiences

    Shadowing at a dental office is typically required and it is advised that students determine the hours of experience required for the schools that they are interested in.

    Relevant Tests

    Websites with test-taking and test-prep information:

    Test-taking timeline

    The DAT is taken no later than the summer (June, specifically) of the student’s junior if the person is planning to move directly into the doctorate program immediately after their undergraduate degree. This allows the student to apply to early in the cycle and increases the chances of admission. Preparation depends on the availability of the student to commit time, but it is often best started in January of their junior year.

    Degree Programs

    Dental school programs typically include coursework in subjects such as local anesthesia, anatomy, periodontics (the study of oral disease and health), and radiology. All programs at dental schools include clinical experience in which students work directly with patients under the supervision of a licensed dentist.

    Completion of a dental program results in one of three degrees: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM), and Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD). In 2015, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredited more than 60 dental school programs.

    Application Resources