Dentist Video: Educational Requirements for a Career in Dentistry

Dentist Video: Educational Requirements for a Career in Dentistry Transcript

Dentists care for people's teeth. Individuals interested in the dental industry, specifically becoming a dentist, must complete a minimum of eight years of schooling post-high school. Dentists are required to be licensed and may choose to specialize in one of nine areas.


Dentists treat patients for problems with teeth and gums, in addition to providing preventative care. In order to become a dentist, one must become licensed after completing about eight years of schooling past high school. Most dentists consider themselves general practitioners while others specialize in one of the following nine areas: orthodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, prosthodontics, endodontics, public health dentistry, oral pathology, or oral and maxillofacial radiology.

Job Duties and Skills

As general practitioners, dentists care for their patients by treating teeth and mouth tissue problems and providing care to help with future problems that can occur. They instruct patients on dental hygiene such as brushing, flossing, and the use of fluorides. In a private practice, dentists typically oversee the business procedures such as billing and insurance and may have dental assistants and hygienists working under them. Dentists must know how to fill cavities, take and examine x-rays, remove tooth decay, and repair teeth. Dentists must also have the skills to extract teeth and perform corrective surgery.

Training Required

Beyond high school, dentists will typically complete eight years of education, if not more. It is required in the United States for all dentists to be licensed. This licensing procedure includes graduating from an accredited dental school along with passing a written and practical examination at the end of school. In addition, most dental schools require at least two years of pre-dental education before admitting a student into a dental program.

Career Opportunities

The majority of dentists operate their own practice. They typically work alone or have a small office staff to help out. Other dentists work in a practice with partner dentists. There are also opportunities for dentists to work for each other as associate dentists. As a dentist in your own practice, you are free to set your own hours, which may typically be four to five days a week. Some dentists also extend office hours to accommodate for patients who need evening or weekend appointments.


To become a dentist, you must first complete a bachelor's program along with four years of dental school. Some students in a dental program even work for another dentist for up to two years to gain experience before passing their licensure examinations. It is an occupation that allows for flexibility in scheduling and takes practice to master your skills and build a client base. Individuals who are interested in oral health, working with patients and continued schooling may fit well in the industry.


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