How Do You Become a Dentist?

If you’re looking for a rewarding healthcare career that combines hands-on medical care and long-term relationships with patients, become a dentist. You will not only be joining one of the most trusted professions in the United States but also gaining access to a financially lucrative career. Once you gain your license, you can enjoy the freedom of owning your own small clinic or the stability of joining an existing practice.

Should You Become a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Before Dental School?

If you want to know if dental school is right for you, it makes sense to work in a dental office first. Finding a job as a receptionist, dental assistant or dental hygienist can give you first-hand experience at life as a dentist, especially if you find a boss willing to mentor you. Many dental schools use a holistic approach when evaluating applicants, so a resume showing your experience in the dental world can make up for a low undergraduate GPA or poor performance on the Dental Admission Test.

How Many Years of School Do You Need to Be a Dentist?

Most dental school applicants have a bachelor’s degree, but it is possible to meet the requirements for admission to dental school without finishing your undergraduate degree. Once you matriculate to dental school, you will graduate in four years. The first year focuses on classroom knowledge, and the remaining years combine clinical practice with ongoing scientific learning. Some dentists choose to do a residency or fellowship after graduating to specialize in one area of dental science. This extra training takes several years to complete and is not necessary if you want to practice as a general dentist. Ultimately, you will need at least six years of secondary education to become a license dentist.

Do You Need a Specific Major to Become a Dentist?

Dental schools do not require a specific major for applicants. Students with degrees in music, engineering or anthropology are accepted to dental school every year. Because your grades do impact your chances of acceptance, you should choose an undergraduate major that you enjoy. Most pre-dental students choose to major in the natural sciences because dentistry relies heavily on scientific knowledge. However, you’ll also need to know accounting, patient interaction, staff management and social science to be a top-notch dentist. If you’re committed to a liberal arts degree, don’t worry; dental schools will teach you the scientific background you need.

What Courses Do You Need to Take to Become a Dentist?

Although you don’t need a specific major to be accepted by a dental school, you do need to complete certain classes. According to the American Dental Association, these prerequisites for admission include at least two courses in biology, chemistry and organic chemistry, and these courses must include a laboratory component. You will also need at least two classes in English and physics. Other helpful courses include foreign language and medical terminology. Business classes are useful if you plan to run your own dental practice.

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You don’t need to major in pre-dentistry or work for years as a dental hygienist to be accepted into dental school. All you truly need is a background in the natural sciences, a passion for continuing education and a desire to help others in order to become a dentist.