Dentist Education Requirements and Career Information
Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a dentist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.
Dentists provide oral health services to adults and children. Some dentists choose to study a subspecialty, such as orthodontics. Most dentists obtain an undergraduate degree before completing a 4-year dental program. Postgraduate requirements, such as a residency, may also be required. All dentists must be licensed by the state in which they practice.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree prior to admission to dental school; doctoral degree in dental medicine or dental surgery; some dental specializations require completion of a residency|
|Licensing||Required for dentists in all states|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)||16%*|
|Median Salary (2013)||$105,520*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most dental students obtain a bachelor's degree prior to entering dental school (www.bls.gov). While no specific undergraduate degree is required, students commonly take science courses in biology, anatomy, chemistry and microbiology.
Aspiring dentists enroll in a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association. Dental colleges offer either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). Prospective students must submit Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores with their application.
DDS degree programs cover four years of in-class, pre-clinical and clinical instruction. The first two years are devoted to lab and class instruction. Courses may include oral pathology, dental diagnosis and dental treatment techniques. In the last two years, students typically complete a dental rotation externship, which is usually conducted in dental clinics and allow students to treat patients under supervision.
In addition to general dentistry, dental schools typically offer specialized areas of study, such as oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics or pediatric dentistry. These postgraduate programs generally take an additional 2-6 years to complete, depending on the chose specialty, and may include a residency.
Dentists work with patients to promote dental health. They diagnose and treat oral health issues and inform patients on preventative care and treatment. Most dentists are general practitioners who perform exams, fill cavities and extract teeth; however, some choose a subspecialty of dentistry, such as orthodontics. Dental school graduates may work for established offices or setup their own practice.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS predicts a 16% increase in the employment of dentists between the years 2012 and 2022. This increase was attributed to a rise in the demand for dental services for the aging population. The BLS noted that dentists earned a median annual salary of $105,520 as of May 2013.
Related to Education for Dentist
- Recently Updated
Dentists are medical professionals who provide tooth, gum, and mouth care for patients. Learn about the education requirements,...
Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a cosmetic dentist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as...
Read on for more information about working in equine dentistry. See what the education and training requirements are for equine...
Dentists require a significant amount of formal education. Learn more about the degree programs, licensure requirements and job...
- Dentist Office Receptionist: Employment Outlook and Career Profile
- Dentist Office Manager: Educational Overview and Career Summary
- Cosmetic Dentists: Job Description & Career Info
- Federal Agent: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
- What Can You Do With a Bachelors in Political Science?
- Security Project Manager: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
- Veterinary Epidemiologist: Job Description, Duties, Outlook and Salary
- Pediatric Dentists: Job Duties & Requirements
- Nanotechnology: Career Options and Education Requirements
- Clinical Trial Investigator: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
- Alternative Medicine: Overview for Becoming an Acupuncture Technician
- Sports Medicine Professions: Overview of Career Education Programs