Dentistry is a profession that is often brushed aside by students for careers in medicine, pharmaceuticals, and other related healthcare fields. That being said, maintaining and operating on the multitudinous and highly sensitive nerves of the human mouth is something that requires skill, precision, and practice – all of which translates into a rigorous education.
The first step to pursuing a career as a dentist is similar to that of pharmacy, law, and medicine. You begin by completing a Bachelor’s degree in a program of your choice and meeting the necessary prerequisites. Such prerequisites are diverse and varied, extending to fields such as mathematics, physics, pharmacology, human physiology, and other fields.
Following the completion of a Bachelor’s degree, students attend a 4-year dental program. The number of schools that offer such dental programs is limited, rendering dentistry a highly competitive field. In addition to that, admission to such dental programs is often based on extensive testing. The Dental Admission Test (the DAT) should be taken a year prior to seeking admission to dental school. It assesses general knowledge, scientific literacy, perceptual ability, and academic strength. Recommended DAT scores and other requirements for admission (such as GPA, references, and extracurriculars) vary from school to school. As such, it is recommended to have suitable backups in the event that you cannot meet the admission requirements of your number one school. Keeping your options open is the key to success in any academic field.
Many, if not most, dental schools require in-person interviews with selected candidates. Such interviews can often be a stressful experience for many students. To counteract this stress, there are many courses offered to coach you throw the basics of this interview. The key takeaway, however, is confident and professional; these qualities are crucial in the health care field.
In your first year of dental school, you will likely take classes in subjects such as biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology, as well as dental courses such as oral biology and dental anatomy. In addition to that, you will also spend time gathering incredibly important experience with basic dental procedures. As all schooling goes, as you continue to advance, your education will become increasingly specialized. Classroom time will decrease in your later years and you will find yourself gathering more and more practical experience.
Upon completion of dental school, students either receive a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Medical Dentistry). These are equivalent degrees.
Finally, after graduating from dental school, dentists are expected to pass a licensing exam in order to begin practicing with their state of residence. Dentists offer a variety of services, including everything from check-ups to root canals.