A dentist, also known as a 'dental surgeon', is a doctor that specializes in the diagnosis prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity. The dentist's supporting team aides in providing oral health services. The dental team includes dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and in some states, dental therapists. They work to keep your teeth and gums clean, healthy and strong, without dental instruments.
All dentists in the U.S must graduate from a university and complete required courses such as biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and statistics/calculus. While most dental schools require at least a bachelors degree, a few schools may consider admitting exceptional students after only 3 years of college. To apply, students must take the DAT or Dental Admissions Test. Admission to dental school is competitive, and is generally determined based on factors such as GPA, DAT scores, recommendation letters, and extracurricular activities. To become a licensed dentist, one must then complete an accredited dental school curriculum and successfully master all clinical competencies and national board exams. Most dental school curriculums require four years of training, however, some states require dentists to complete a post graduate residency program as well. In the US, a newly graduated dentist is then awarded the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree, or the Doctor of Dental Medicine degree depending on the dental school attended. Both degrees are the same. A newly graduated dentist can then pursue further specialty residency training ranging from 2 to 6 years.
Tips for being a good dentist:
1. Find out more about dentists and dental equipment by volunteering in a dental office and learn some of the aspects involved in being a dentist as well as different dental procedures performed by a dentist.
2. If you are still in high school, math and science are important subjects to focus on. It would also be helpful to enroll in college prep classes. Chemistry, liberal arts, biology and algebra are college prep classes that would be helpful to you.
3. In college, you don’t have to major in science, however, you must complete the pre-dental science requirements in the United States. Recommended college courses are biochemistry, organic and inorganic chemistry, physics and general biology.
4. In the United States, an undergraduate degree is recommended before dental school. The majority of students in dental school have had 4 years of college.
5. Find out about different dental schools and the requirements for admission of each. Most dental schools will offer you valuable information about what you should do to prepare for a career as a dentist.