How to become a dentist is an arduous and time-consuming process. You need to have many things to be successful as a dentist, such as good grades in high school, excellent oral and written communication skills, and the ability to work independently.
Additionally, you will need to complete several years of dental school before starting practicing dentistry—Research the education, training, licensure requirements, and experience necessary to pursue a dentistry career. Dentists diagnose and treat conditions affecting the mouth and replace teeth and gums.
These professionals may practise general dentistry or work in a specialized area. In addition, some dentists work weekend or evening hours to accommodate their patients’ schedules.
|Degree Level||Professional or doctoral degree
|Degree Field||Dental surgery or dental medicine
|Training||Post-degree training residency required for specialized dentistry
|Licensure||Licensure required in all states
|Key Skills||Good judgment, decision-making, communication, and leadership skills; detailed-oriented; manual dexterity and organizational skills, knowledge of dental anatomy and medical procedures
|Median Annual Salary (2019)*||$155,600
How to Become a Dentist
The first step is to attend an accredited dental school. After completing a four-year program, you will need to complete a one-year residency. To become a licensed dentist, you will also need to pass the National Board Dental Examination and the Regional Board Exam.
1. Enroll in a Bachelor’s Degree Program
Dentists play an important role in our society. They help us maintain our oral health, and they are responsible for many of the procedures we undergo to keep our teeth healthy. If you’re interested in becoming a dentist, it’s important to start by enrolling in a Bachelor’s degree program.
During your undergraduate studies, you’ll learn about the basics of dentistry, and you’ll also have the opportunity to gain experience in the field. After completing your Bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to attend dental school to earn your Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. Once you’ve completed dental school, you’ll be able to practice dentistry as a licensed dentist.
2. Take the Dental Admission Test
To become a dentist, you will need to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The DAT is offered four times a year, in February, May, September and November. The computer-based test consists of four sections: perceptual ability, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning and chemistry. You can find more information about the test on the ADA website.
The DAT is a challenging test, and it’s required for dental school, but if you prepare for it properly, you can do well. First, start by studying the content areas covered on the test. Then, practice taking sample tests to become familiar with the format and question types. And finally, get plenty of rest and eat healthy foods leading up to the test day to be at your best mentally and physically.
3. Earn a Dental Degree
The dental field is a rapidly growing industry that is always in demand for new professionals. However, if you are interested in becoming a dentist, you need to take a few basic steps to earn your dental degree.
First, you will need to complete an accredited undergraduate program in biology or chemistry. Next, you must attend an accredited dental school and complete a four-year program. Finally, you will need to pass the National Board Dental Exam and the State Licensing Exam to practice dentistry after graduation.
4. Obtain a Licensure
Dentists play an essential role in our society. They help us maintain our oral health by providing preventative care, diagnosing and treating conditions, and prescribing medication. However, if you’re thinking of becoming a dentist, there are a few things you need to do to obtain licensure.
First, you’ll need to complete an accredited dental school program. This usually takes four years to complete. Then, once you’ve graduated, you’ll need to pass the National Dental Board Examination (NDBE) to become licensed. Finally, you’ll need to find a dentist willing to sponsor your application for licensure.
5. Consider a Specialization
There are many different specialties in dentistry. Which one you choose to specialize in will depend on your interests and the type of work you want. For example, if you’re interested in helping people maintain their oral health, you may want to specialize in preventive dentistry.
If you’re more interested in treating dental problems, you may want to specialize in restorative dentistry or oral surgery. Specializing can also help you build a specialty practice and become an expert in a particular area of dentistry.
Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics
Oral and maxillofacial pathology
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery
- Pediatric dentistry
- Public health dentistry
- Oral and maxillofacial radiology
Becoming a specialist entails 2 to 4 years of additional education and, in some cases, a residency of up to two years before earning a specialty state license.