What Degree Is Needed To Become A Dentist?

DentistThose who consider beginning a career in a medical field should highly consider becoming a dentist. Dentists perform tasks such as removing tooth decay, filling cavities, repairing cracked teeth, removing teeth, whitening teeth, administering anesthetics, examining x-rays, and teaching patients about dental care. Dentistry careers offer salaries that are approximately $150,000 a year, as well as flexible office hours. Dentistry employment is projected to grow 16% in the next 10 years which is faster than many other careers, so the need for dentists certainly is growing too, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Undergraduate Education

Ultimately students need to graduate from dental school in order to become a dentist, but they must complete a bachelor’s degree before entering dental school. Dental schools typically require the completion of certain science courses, so completing a science major in biology or chemistry will increase your chances of being accepted to dental school. To prepare for college, taking high school classes in chemistry, physics, anatomy, biology, and math is highly recommended. Both high school and undergraduate science courses will provide students with a solid science foundation for more advanced biology and anatomy courses in graduate or professional school.

Graduate Education

According to the American Dental Association, once a junior in college, students are able to take the Dental Admissions Test which is required to get into dental school. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, passing the DAT, and being accepted into professional dental school, a graduate student must complete four more years of college education before becoming a dentist. Dental school not only requires students to take courses for dentistry but also requires them to practice with patients in a clinical setting under professional supervision. Before graduating with a doctorate degree, graduate students must also pass the National Board Dental Examination Part I & II which will certify them to practice dentistry.

Dental Specialties

Post-doctorate programs are available for graduates before beginning dentistry at a practice or clinic. General dentistry typically includes focus in either clinical dentistry or medical management. Specialties that require additional training include endodontics, oral surgery, oral pathology, oral radiology, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics, according to the American Student Dental Association. The most important thing to remember when seeking training for dental specialties is to verify that the program is approved by the American Dental Association and accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

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Students pursuing dental careers have a long road of education and training ahead of them. Since it is a medical career, a doctorate degree is required as well as passing the National Board Dental Exams before you can start practicing as a dentist. Dentists are not only employed at private clinics, but also find work in public health clinics, hospitals, dental health organizations, dental schools, government agencies, and the military. With the demand high and employment statistics increasing, knowing what degree is needed to become a dentist will point you in the right direction to begin your career.