Becoming a Dentist

A Dentist is entrusted with multiple tasks to treat your teeth and keep the mouth safe. He diagnoses and treats conditions affecting the mouth, teeth and gum apart from performing extractions, root canals and teeth replacements. The Dentists make sure to prevent the malformations of the teeth and jaws.

Educational Requirements: It takes around 8 years to become a Dentist and the process involves several phases.

  1. Obtain Bachelor’s Degree: Complete a bachelor’s degree to become eligible to take Dental Admission Test. It will be a four-year course. And, you may try to earn the degree in majors such as Biology, Physics and Chemistry, which will be helpful for your future preparations.
  1. Take Dental Admission Test: The aspiring Dental students must take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). DAT scores hold much importance during the admission process in dental schools. The test evaluates the students’ academic ability and scientific knowledge. Apart from DAT scores, grade points, interviews and letters of recommendation too play a key role in the admission process.
  1. Earn a Dental Degree: Once you get enrolled in a dental school, you will have to undergo a four-year course, which will be split into two parts. The first two years will have a focus on classroom studies in health and dental science. The last two years will emphasize on clinical practice. The dental degree can be either Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). Both programs may be accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation.
  1. Licensing: All aspirants must get a license from the National Board Dental Examinations after attending a two-tier written examination. Apart from the license, some states may require certification programs.
  1. Specialization Course: This is must for the Dentists who want to advance their career. They can specialize in a specific field of Dentistry such as Pediatric Dentistry, Endodontics or Orthodontics. The entire tenure could be four years (two years of post-doctoral program and two years of residency course). Currently, there are nine specialties recognized by ADA’s Council on Dental Education and Licensure.

Key Dental Specialties:

  • Dental Public Health
  • Endodontics
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics

Salary & Wages: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary of the Dentists was $163,240 as of May 2012. And, the projected jobs in this career, is expected to grow at 21% during the decade 2010-2020.