Dentist Degree Program Information

Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) and Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) programs offer the same basic curricula, and the American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes them as equivalent. Students can expect a program based on the biological sciences, customer service and behavioral psychology.

Doctor of Dental Medicine or Doctor of Dental Surgery

Coursework in a dental degree program covers the basics of dental practice, such as cleanings, cavity removal, oral surgery, root canals and patient interviews. Both DDS and DMD programs involve the study of oral conditions, dental procedures and dental hygiene during the first two years. The third and fourth years typically involve clinical simulations and hands-on dental assisting with licensed practitioners. In order to practice dentistry, professionals need to be licensed according to their state's standards.

  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree; Dental Admission Test (DAT)
  • Program Length: Four years
  • Experiential Learning: At least three months of general rotations and one month of oral surgery rotations

Dentist Degree Programs

Student enrolled in a DDS or DMD program learn the medical, ethical and biological aspects of dentistry. They may also learn about specialties within the field and are required to participate in clinical rotations in order to qualify for state licensure. Common dental school courses may include:

  • Oral pathology
  • Molecular genetics
  • Professional ethics
  • Pharmacology
  • Orthodontics
  • Radiology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

While many dentists work in a clinical practice, there are other opportunities like dental education, research and public health. The BLS estimates that employment of dentists could increase 18% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than average. This projected growth is due to an aging population and an increased number of less invasive treatments. In May 2015, the BLS reported that general dentists earned a median annual salary of $152,700.

Continuing Education Information

All states require dentists to be licensed before they can practice. Though requirements vary by state, becoming licensed usually involves graduating from an accredited program and passing both written and practical exams. Dentists have the option to pursue additional training after earning their degree if they would like to practice in a specialty, such as prosthodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics or endodontics. The BLS states that this usually involves 2-4 years of additional training and passing a state specialty exam.

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