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How to Become a Dentist

How to Become a Dentist

How to Become a DentistPerhaps dentistry interests you. We always need more dentists. Dentists are general practitioners who treat and diagnose gum and teeth problems. However, some specialize in orthodontics and other specialties. Generally dentists have their own practice, so you need to keep in mind that you will have to run a business and hire, train and oversee staff. You’ll need a bachelors degree and 4 years of dental school and there are other requirements as well.

You’ll need to sit down and talk to yourself and determine if dentistry is right for you. You’ll have to take a lot of science courses and make good grades. Are you up to this? You need a great deal of manual dexterity and of course excellent communication skills. Given that you will run your own practice, you’ll need to acquire excellent employee management skills, have good business sense, money for investment and be willing to work 60 hours a week.

You should have good high school grades and a high SAT/ACT score for undergraduate college entrance. You’ll need to take pre-med coursework your first two years of your undergrad program. This coursework includes calculus, physics, inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry. Check with the graduate dental program and find out exactly what prerequisites you need to have. You can major in any science coursework but biology is in particular a good area. This will prepare you for gross anatomy in dental grad school. This is a heavily weighted class and very demanding.

Once you have your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The test is given at a Prometric Test Center and you can find out more information on this by visiting the American Dental Association (ADA) website. Now you’re ready to apply for admission to dental school. You’ll need to submit your undergrad grades, DAT score and letters of recommendation. You’re also required to go through an interview. This interview is all important.

In dental school, you will continue to study, anatomy, microbiology, biochemistry and physiology along with the corresponding labs. You also take clinical courses and learn how to great patients in your program’s dental clinics. You’ll take courses such as endodontics, dental radiology, oral surgery, pedodontics, restorative dentistry, periodontics and oral diagnosis to mention a few.

You need to consider getting some experience while you are in dental school. Try for a part-time position in a dental office as a dental assistant. This will give you experience that you will not have in dental school. This will help you after you graduate and set up your practice.

When you graduate you can get a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).   Now you’re ready to take your board exams. These exams are The National Board Dental Examinations. These are written exams. Your dental school should arrange for testing. The state your in will grant you your license, however in order to qualify for the license you’ll need to take the state’s particular board exam. You see some states administer their own board exam and others accept a regional exam for example, the Western Regional Examining Board or the North East Regional Board. You will be required to perform treatment on patients. Another consideration at this point is to get licensed to prescribe drugs. You’ll need to obtain a federal and state license for this.

Okay, now that your are licensed, you can begin to set up practice. It may be prudent to land a position with an existing practice and perhaps later establish your own practice.

Images Dental Care

This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

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Susan Ardizzoni

Susan Ardizzoni

Professor Susan Ardizzoni

Susan has studied at the University of Texas Medical Branch Marine Biomedical Institute in Galveston, Texas and the University of South Florida in Tampa and received a Ph.D. in Biology with a major in Neuroscience and minors in physics and mathematics. Area of research is in brain transplantation and behavior testing with twenty years of teaching experience. Fields of interest include the physical basis of memory and learning, brain repair and regeneration as well as neuro-development. As an educator, has taught thousands of students at the college level in anatomy and physiology, biology, microbiology, marinebiology, nutrition, communications, radiography, ultrasound, mathematics and physics. She enjoys reading current scientific literature and simplifying the material making it readily available to the public.
Susan Ardizzoni

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