Is Dental School The Right Decision for Me?
Dental school is a major requirement for those who want to acquire a license and become general or specialized dentists who work for others or start their own practices. The ever-evolving nature of dental medicine makes it an interesting and challenging career for those with the right qualities. See how yours compare:
|Are you committed to eight or more years of college?||Yes or No|
|Do you enjoy science classes?||Yes or No|
|Do you communicate well?||Yes or No|
|Are you coordinated?||Yes or No|
|Is taking care of others a priority for you?||Yes or No|
|Are you a people person?||Yes or No|
|Is your integrity important to you?||Yes or No|
|Are you comfortable educating others?||Yes or No|
|Are you interested in medicine?||Yes or No|
|Are you patient?||Yes or No|
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Advanced General Dentistry Programs
- Dental Assisting
- Dental Clinical Science
- Dental Hygienist
- Dental Laboratory Tech
- Dental Materials
- Dental Public Health and Education
- Dentistry - DDS, DMD
- Oral Biology and Oral Pathology
- Oral Surgery
- Pediatric Dentistry
Why Do These Questions Matter?
Are you committed to eight or more years of college?
To become a dentist, you will need to attend dental school, which typically takes four years to complete. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for most dental schools, so the total time you will spend in school will likely be about eight years. To specialize in an area such as oral surgery or orthodontics, you will need to dedicate another two to four years to completing a residency.
Do you enjoy science classes?
Dental school programs require applicants to have completed undergraduate science courses, such as biology and chemistry, and prefer those who have also taken advanced science classes. Your dental school curriculum, meanwhile, will likely include subjects such as anatomy and physiology, molecular biology and pharmacology.
Do you communicate well?
As a dentist, you will spend a great deal of your time communicating with others. This includes listening to and explaining treatments to patients, collaborating with staff to ensure efficient business operations, and, at times, working with other dental and medical professionals.
Are you coordinated?
Dentists need to be highly coordinated and have manual dexterity to manipulate tools and complete dental procedures with precision.
Is taking care of others a priority for you?
Aside from technical skill and knowledge, most important qualities of a successful dentist rely upon one personality trait: the desire to help people.
Are you a people person?
Strong interpersonal skills are necessary to make patients comfortable, instill confidence, and build relationships that lead to repeat business and growth of the dental practice.
Is your integrity important to you?
Because many of your patients will have little technical knowledge when it comes to dentistry, they will trust you to be honest in your suggested treatments, ethical when presenting treatment options, and transparent about costs.
Are you comfortable educating others?
Dentists regularly educate patients about various procedures, treatments and outcomes and should have the ability to motivate them to partake in preventative dental care.
Are you interested in medicine?
Because oral health issues may reflect or impact other health conditions, dentists must have a knowledge of general medicine. Your dental school coursework will likely include study of the human body and diseases.
Are you patient?
Whether working with children or adults, dentists will encounter patients who are reluctant or frightened by dental procedures. Patience and empathy are critical.
What Else Should I Consider?
Did you answer positively to most of these questions? If so, you may breathe a little easier: you are on the right path when considering dental school. Keep in mind that after you complete dental school, you will need to be licensed by your state, and throughout your career, you'll need to be committed to continuing education in order to keep up with new research, treatments and procedures. A couple additional considerations: jobs for dentists are expected to grow by 18% through 2024, and among all dental specialties, oral and maxillofacial surgeons earn the highest salaries.