How to Become a Dentist? – Overview
Choosing to build a career in dentistry is a great decision. The practice is listed among the top ten careers of all time by the 2021 U.S. News & World Report.
Aside from that, you are likely to derive inherent satisfaction from helping people improve their oral health as well as receive an attractive salary.
That said, you want to have the right information before pursuing a career in dentistry to avoid regrets down the line. Here is everything you need to know about it.
How to Start
To become a dentist, you would have to invest considerably in your education. Most dental schools require you to have a bachelor’s degree before applying.
Just as with medical school admissions, you won’t need a particular major to join the dental school.
Nevertheless, you will have to complete certain science courses, a Dental Admissions Test, and relevant extracurricular activities.
Once you finish dental school, you will be awarded either a DMD or DDS degree.
Is it Hard to Become a Dentist?
Getting to be a dentist is not necessarily hard, but it is certainly challenging in several ways including the financial implications associated with studying for it, the number of years spent in school, and finally setting up a practice.
You also want to keep in mind that the acceptance rate for dental schools in the US is about 55% which means that almost half the number of applicants annually have nowhere to go.
To be admitted into dental school, you would have to demonstrate your prowess in your academics.
How Long do you Have to Wait to Become a Dentist?
Generally, it will take about eight years for you to be a dentist. The first four years will be spent studying for a bachelor’s degree and the other four for a DM D or DDS in dental school.
If you want to specialize, you will be required to go for a dental residency which will also take some time.
For high school students who are sure about pursuing dentistry, there is a shorter path towards it that involves direct dental programs or BS/DDS programs that link dental schools and undergraduate institutions thus allowing students to be accepted to both right out of high school.
These usually take seven years to complete although some take five or six years to complete.
What is Residency Training?
Dentistry is diverse and career opportunities in the field include public health, private practice, and academics. As a dentist, you can work across different health facets throughout your career.
For instance, you can start in public health and move into private practice.
Moreover, dentistry offers several specialties recognized by the American Dental Association including oral medicine, endodontics, and prosthodontics.
To specialize in any of these, you will have to do a residency after completing dental school.
This will take about two or three years. If you want to specialize in oral and maxillofacial surgery, it would take between four to six years.
Some programs have a budget that allows them to pay students while they are under training while others are quite expensive and require students to pay tuition fees.
Tips for High School Students
For high school students who want to get into dentistry, there are several things they can do to guarantee a seamless transition. This includes:
Interact with and Shadow Dentists
To acquaint yourself with dentistry, you can spend time with those who are already practicing in the field. You can start by interacting with your family dentist or ask those close to you if they know of any dentist, they can introduce you to.
Once you establish a connection with a dentist, try to shadow them to increase your understanding and experience.
Focus on Sciences
To make it through dental school, you will have to go through numerous science classes in chemistry, biology, pharmacology.
Paying extra attention in your science classes in high school will set a strong foundation for you in preparation for dental school.
Engage in Useful Extracurricular Activities
As a dentist, you will be interacting with patients daily. As such, you need to develop skills that will help you serve them better.
To cultivate that, you need to begin early by engaging in meaningful extracurricular activities while in high school.
As you can see, the path to becoming a dentist is a challenging and long one.
It would be easier for you to get into the career if you start preparing early as you will be equipped with experience and skills by the time you become a practicing dentist.