Your training starts in high school. The road to dentaldom is filled with hard work, but you can make it slightly easier on yourself if you prepare. It helps to take a Latin class. Latin will help you understand dental terms that have Latin origins when you get to dental school. It’s a good idea to stay awake during your math and science classes, too. Bone up on the SAT exam. Getting a good SAT score will help you get into a college that has a reputable science department.
Most people major in a science like biology, but you can get into dental school with an English bachelor’s degree as long as you kick major butt in your science classes. College is a magical time where you might be tempted to slack off. Don’t give in. Typically, dental schools require that you have a 3.5. GPA or better in basic science classes. Other courses to take include nutrition, pathology, biochemistry, pharmacology, histology and Spanish.
Before you can admire the tooth decay posters on the wall in dental school, you must take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The DAT allows you to showcase your organic chemistry, biology, math and reading comprehension skills to dental schools. Once you’ve received your score, you can apply to dental school. Fortunately, the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service is available for young dental hopefuls.
In dental school you get to learn things like: the maxillary central incisor has the widest mesiodistal of any of the anterior teeth. Yay! Some of your courses may include dental materials, operative dentistry, dental anatomy, oral biology, preventive dentistry and complete dentures. It will take you two years of reading and test taking before you can work on patients. Don’t worry - you’ll also have lots of coursework to complete.
After dental school, you can earn your license or go into a residency program. Residency programs help those who are specializing in a particular field of dentistry like periodontics. If you get your dental license, you will need to graduate from an ADA dental school, pass a written exam and pass a clinical exam. Some states like New York require dentists to complete a one-year residency program instead of an exam. It depends on the state where you want to practice. After you get your license, the world is your toothy oyster.