Steps to Become a Dentist
Here are four steps to follow to become a dentist:
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
No specific undergraduate major is required for students pursuing dental school; however, many dental schools require that applicants complete science courses, such as chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology. For this reason, a bachelor's degree in either biology or chemistry provides sufficient preparation for continued study in a dental program.
Some colleges and universities offer pre-dental preparation programs through their biology departments. Pre-dental programs are designed to fulfill the course requirements set by dental school admissions departments. Coursework covers topics like organic chemistry, microbiology and genetics. You may also begin preparing to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), the passage of which is required for admission.
While in school, consider joining a club or volunteer; pre-dental programs encourage students to volunteer or work in dental health programs or join exploration programs, to explore their career options.
Step 2: Complete a Dental Degree Program
Dental school programs generally begin with instruction in the biomedical and dental sciences, covering a range of concepts from cell walls to wisdom teeth. Many of the first- and second-year dental science courses have corresponding laboratories. In these labs, you'll demonstrate your knowledge of dental topics while building skills in areas such as imaging and fixed partial dentures.
In the third and fourth years, you'll probably participate in-group clinical exercises, during which you'll learn to diagnose patients under the supervision of licensed dentists. Additionally, you may begin performing dental treatments, like cleanings and tooth extractions. After completing the program, you'll become either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).