Dentists are required to complete a Doctor of Dentistry (DDS) degree program in order to gain licensure in the field. To gain admittance into a DDS program, however, aspiring dentists must first complete a bachelor's degree program with a strong emphasis in biological studies. One such degree program is a Bachelor of Science in Pre-Dentistry.
Students who are admitted into a pre-dentistry track program are often required to complete college-level pre-requisite courses in mathematics, biological science, physics, chemistry, computer science and English communication. Some schools offering pre-dentistry programs require incoming students to pass a background check. With continued education, students can pursue careers in general dentistry or specialized oral surgery.
Bachelor's in Pre-Dentistry
Bachelor's degree programs in pre-dentistry are designed to provide aspiring dentists with the credits and educational background necessary to gain admittance into a DDS program at an accredited university or dental school. Undergraduate degree programs in the subject can go by several titles, including pre-dentistry, biology with a pre-dental track or dental laboratory sciences. Each of these degrees, however, contains the same coursework and goals for aspiring dentists. In addition to biochemistry and general physics, examples of specific courses include:
- Introduction to dental research
- Dental anatomy
- Laboratory skills and procedures
- Professional development in dentistry
- Molecular and cellular biology
- Organic and general chemistry
Popular Career Options
A bachelor's degree in pre-dentistry is specifically designed to prepare students to enter a doctoral program in the dentistry field, and is not designed as a means to gain an entry-level or technician position. Students who do go on to enroll in a doctoral program in dentistry can choose to specialize in any one of the following fields:
- General dentistry
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery
- Specialty dentistry
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Becoming a dentist requires the completion of a doctoral degree program and passing licensing exams. However, those that complete the requirements can become licensed dentists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a job growth of 7% for dentists from 2018-2028. The mean annual wages for dentists were $175,840 in May 2018.
Certification and Continuing Education
Dentists must gain licensure in order to practice their craft legally in the United States. Each individual state offers its own licensure procedures for aspiring dentists. However, many states allow dentists to meet their licensure requirements by passing the National Board Dental Examination.
Those interested in pre-dentistry programs should have a strong background and interest in science and mathematics. These programs will prepare students for entry to advanced programs in the field that are required for licensure.