How to Become a Dentist

How to Become a Dentist – Overview

Choosing to build a career in dentistry is a great decision. Dentistry is highly regarded as a rewarding career for its balance of personal satisfaction, community service, and financial reward, frequently ranking highly in various career satisfaction and best jobs lists.

Aside from that, you are likely to derive inherent satisfaction from helping people improve their oral health and 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 must invest considerably in your education. Most dental schools require you to have a bachelor’s degree before applying.

As with medical school admissions, you won’t need a particular major to join the dental school.

Nevertheless, you must 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. Still, it is challenging in several ways, including the financial implications associated with studying for it, the number of years spent in school, and setting up a practice.

The acceptance rate for dental schools is often competitive. To be admitted, you must demonstrate your academic prowess.

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Become a Dentist

Becoming a general dentist typically takes eight years of post-secondary education: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, followed by four years in dental school. 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 must 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 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.

Accelerated dental programs, such as combined BS/DDS programs, typically take seven years to complete, but program lengths can vary. The majority are designed to shorten the overall time to earn a DDS or DMD degree.

What is Residency Training

Dentistry is diverse; career opportunities include public health, private practice, and academics. As a dentist, you can work across different health facets.

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 must do a residency after completing dental school.

Residency lengths vary by specialty, with most lasting two to four years. Oral and maxillofacial surgery residencies are more extensive, requiring four to six years, potentially including a medical degree within this timeframe.

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 already practicing in the field. You can start by interacting with your family dentist or asking those close to you if they know of any dentist to whom they can introduce you.

Once you connect with a dentist, try to shadow them to increase your understanding and experience.

Focus on Sciences

You must take numerous chemistry, biology, and pharmacology science classes to make it through dental school.

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 interact with patients daily. Therefore, you need to develop skills that will help you serve them better.

To cultivate that, you must begin early by engaging in meaningful extracurricular activities in high school.

Final thoughts

As you can see, becoming a dentist is challenging and long.

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.

See Also

HHS Grants for Dentists

Where to Get Dental Office Supplies

How Much Do Surgeons Earn

Grants for Dental Assistant School

Residency for Surgeons

Current Version
April 1, 2024
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.
November 12, 2021
Written By
Shubham Grover

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