How to Become a Dentist

Dentists care for the teeth and mouth tissue of their patients. The dentist job description is to prevent, diagnose, and treat decay and gum disease.

They make use of a myriad of equipment, such as:

  • drills
  • x-ray machines
  • and probes

While filling cavities, placing sealants, extracting teeth, taking measurements and creating models for dentures, or even performing surgery to treat gum disease.

Dental Health Prevention and Cosmetics

A big part of the dentist job description is teaching patients about dental health prevention. Many dental health issues can be prevented if the patient only knew the proper self-care.

Many dentists perform cosmetic dentistry, specializing in whitening, tooth reshaping, and even veneers. For patients whose teeth have always been a source of embarrassment, a cosmetic dental procedure can make a world of difference in their lives.

Orthodontics is a form of cosmetic dentistry, but most of what these specialists do is for the overall health of the mouth.

How to Become a Dentist

If you are wondering how to become a dentist, this is a good profession for the right person. Each day is diverse as a host of patients come in and out of the office, each one with a new set of risks or challenges.

The job of dentist requires creativity. Although the profession depends upon science, there is artistry to working on patients’ smiles. Dentists enjoy much prestige and respect in their community.

Typically, dentists work for themselves. The level of flexibility in being your own boss is tremendous. Dentists can navigate their professional lives to allow for balance between work and home. Additionally, there is a great deal of security in being a dentist.

People are keeping their teeth longer and more people are spending money on their mouths in order to get a terrific smile they’re proud of. Most dentists report a high level of personal satisfaction with their jobs. After all, they work to ensure the health and appearance of their patients’ smiles.

Education is Very Important

Dentists are lifetime students in order to stay on the cutting edge of dentistry. This allows dentists to keep their professional lives dynamic and exciting by always learning and integrating new technology and approaches to solving dental problems.

To become a dentist, you will want to begin in high school making sure you have a broad-based foundation in science and math. Take all the college-prep courses your high school offers in chemistry, algebra, and biology. Take four years of science and math. If your school offers Latin, take it. Spanish is a good idea as well. You may have patients whose first language is Spanish. Make sure you are well-prepared for the SAT and carry a minimum of a 3.5 GPA.

Choosing a College

Choose a college with a good reputation for getting students into graduate school. Often private, liberal arts colleges are not necessarily well-known but are known among graduate schools for producing high-quality candidates, who are prepared for the rigor of graduate programs.

You are looking for a well-rounded liberal arts education. Also, keep in mind that you will need reference letters to get into dental school. So, a small setting may be to your advantage since your professors will know you well.

While you are in college, continue focusing heavily on natural sciences. You will want to take upper-level classes in biology and chemistry and physics. But don’t forget to also take business courses and psychology.

Running your own dental office is a business. And you will be working with people, not just their teeth. You need to understand your patients and the various challenges they are juggling. Calculus should be on your list as well since many dental schools require two semesters. You will want to maintain a 3.5 GPA in the sciences and overall.

Additional Helpful Courses

Some courses which aren’t required for dental school admission, but will be tremendously helpful in dentist jobs are:

  • anatomy
  • pharmacology
  • nutrition
  • marketing
  • sociology

Sculpting is a great elective because it improves your dexterity. Extra-curricular activities and non-academic clubs are good as well because your entire career is spent dealing intimately with other people. So your people skills need to be top-notch.

Make sure your advisor knows you want to go to dental school. There is no “pre-dental” major. You can major in whatever you would like. In fact, there are dentists who majored in English, which provides the student with a high level of critical thinking, empathy, and broader understanding of people, their feelings, and motives.

Regardless of what you choose to major in, you must have high grades in the science and math courses you take as well.

The Dental Admission Test

The DAT (Dental Admission Test) is required to get into dental school. Be well-prepared for this exam. A prep course is a great idea. A key piece of dentist information is how important the DAT is.

This test will evaluate your knowledge of:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • scientific reading comprehension
  • quantitative studies with Algebraic equations
  • fractions
  • conversions
  • percentages
  • probability and statistics
  • trigonometry
  • exponential notation
  • geometry

Your perceptual ability will come into play as well in the form of orthographic projections, apertures, form development, angle discrimination, and paper-folding. This can be a challenging portion of the test.

You need a knack for conceptualizing how an unfolded, multi-sided, irregular object will look when assembled. If that scares you, try checking out some engineering books and practice. The reading sections of the DAT are very challenging (remember the dentist who majored in English?) as well.

Once you get into dental school, a lot of pressure will be eased off your shoulders. Dental school is four years of training.

In order to complete training, the National Board Dental Exam (NBDE) Part I and II must be completed.

 

 

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