Dentist Degree Program Information

Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) and Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) programs are both recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). They offer curricula based on the biological sciences, customer service and behavioral psychology.

Essential Information

Admission to dental degree programs require a bachelor's degree and successful completion of the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Coursework 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. These experiential learning requirements include at least three months of general rotations and one month of oral surgery rotations. In order to practice dentistry, professionals need to be licensed according to their state's standards.

Dentist Degree Programs

Students 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.

Both DMD and DDS programs provide instruction and hands-on training that allows aspiring dentists to enter the field. Graduates must also attain state licensure to practice as dentists. Job growth for dentists is projected to be very healthy over the 2014-2024 decade, according to the BLS.

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