Teeth are so important in so many ways. If you have a pearly white, straight smile, you are good to go. And those who don’t often spend thousands on achieving this or end up getting veneers.
However, it is often forgotten that a toothache can be fatal, as an infection can spread into the bone and the blood. Whether you are in it for the simple reason of promoting a legitimate health concern or cashing in on the cosmetic cash cow, who am I to judge?
The important bit is that you will provide a service that every person on the planet can benefit from.
So, let’s find out how to become a dentist and go through everything it entails…
First Tertiary Education
Becoming a dentist is much like becoming a chiropractor or any other medical-related field that calls for a standard medical degree, in that you will have to undertake years of training and get a doctorate in the end.
To start, you will need to get yourself enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program. It is not required that you have a specific major. But having a strong background in sciences and biology will be of great use to you when you take the Dental Admissions Test, but more on that later.
Read more: Chiropractor Job Description
Check the University requirements first!
Many programs will require you to only complete an associate’s degree, 90 hours, or a certain amount of credits, whereas others may require you to have completed a full degree. You need to research the schools you are trying to get into and make sure of their requirements, especially if you plan on studying abroad.
Universities in other countries may differ in standard or accreditation, and not be considered as sufficient, although many do offer full degrees in as little as three years, and it might be worth looking into. Make sure to keep your grades up as much as possible, as this will be a huge deciding factor when considering to accept or deny your application.
Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
You will need to complete the DAT and score high enough to be eligible for Dental School. It is said that the test scores out of 30 and that 19 is the average. However, no one is exactly jumping at the chance to allow “average” students in.
This test will rely heavily on chemistry, biology, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, physics, and mathematics. This is why your chosen bachelor’s degree should mainly include this in its coursework.
You will have to submit letters of recommendation and a personal statement as to why you want to get into Dental School.
Your letter of recommendation can come from a variety of people, lecturers, or mentors. Your childhood church leader’s kind words of your brilliance and good character may be utterly moving and just what was needed. However, it could also fall flat and be disregarded. You need to look at the schools you plan on applying to and check their specific requirements for those who may submit a letter of recommendation.
Make your statement personal…
Your personal statement should read like a story from your past, with a motivation for the future. A generic “I want to help people” will not cut it. However, a rich story where they can almost feel the pain of your own broken smile as your face slammed into the concrete after falling from your bike paints a picture.
Don’t make something up; it doesn’t have to be you; it can be someone else that you wish to have been able to help. As long it is relatable and from the heart, with some sort of indication as to why you would make a brilliant dentist.
You will need to find a school that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Some schools offer a DDS degree; others offer a DMD degree. Essentially it is the same degree, with the same course material and the same level of education.
The only difference is that while most dental schools prefer to call it a “Doctorate of Dental Surgery,” Harvard stuck with a Latin name as they do with all of their qualifications and called it the “Doctor Medicinae Dentariae.” You will attend Dental School for about four years, and during this time, you will have to specialize.
Different specializations to choose from…
Dental public health focuses on the general health of the population, where you aim to treat unhealthy teeth and oral health issues. Pediatric dentists focus on treating children and can aid in corrective or preventative treatments to help them develop healthy adult teeth. Endodontics is a specialization regarding the roots of teeth.
Some specializations focus on straightening the teeth (orthodontics) or adjusting the length of a jaw (oral and maxillofacial surgery). Prosthodontics refers to the specialization where the focus is on creating a smile with a prosthetic aid such as a dental implant with veneers or dentures.
You will have to pass your board exams; from then on, you will be a licensed dental practitioner.
Additional Dentistry Info And Advice
Firstly, let’s check out the dental positions available and what the jobs entail with my Dentist Job Description and Dentist Interview Questions, or how about my Dental Receptionist Job Description and my Dental Assistant Job Description.
Perhaps you’d like to become a dental assistant. To help with your studies, we recommend Dental Materials: Clinical Applications for Dental Assistants and Dental, the Dental Assisting Notes: Dental Assistant’s Chairside Pocket Guide, or try reading up on Modern Dental Assisting, all available online in 2023.
Furthermore, we also suggest Dental Assisting: A Comprehensive Approach, along with the Dental Assisting Exam Review Book: Study Guide with Practice Test Questions for the Certified Dental Assistant, and the Student Workbook for Essentials of Dental Assisting to ace those exams!
If you are still in school and you wish to pursue dentistry as a career, you can get a leg up by taking the right subjects in school and learning to work hard from the get-go.
It is a competitive field, and it will likely take you eight full years to qualify, but in the end, you will smile all the time, and so will your patients.
All the very best in your new career as a Dentist!