Dentists diagnose and treat problems with teeth and tissues in the mouth, along with giving advice and administering care to help prevent future problems. They provide instruction on diet, brushing, flossing, the use of fluorides, and other aspects of dental care. They remove tooth decay, fill cavities, examine x-rays, place protective plastic sealants on children's teeth, straighten teeth, and repair fractured teeth. They also perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum diseases. Dentists extract teeth and make models and measurements for dentures to replace missing teeth. They administer anesthetics and write prescriptions for antibiotics and other medications. (From the online Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011)
Ten Great Reasons to be a Dentist (from the American Dental Association):
- Service to Others: Help people maintain and improve their oral health, quality of life and appearance
- Balanced Lifestyle: Dentistry offers flexibility to balance professional and personal life
- Empower Your Patients: Give patients smiles they are proud to wear
- Technology and Research: Be involved with the scientific advancement of dentistry
- Be a Leader: Earn respect from your family, friends and community
- Prevention/Education: Be an educator on the importance of oral health
- Detect Disease: Treat oral health and detect disease – including cancer and cardiovascular
- Be Creative: Use your artistic and scientific talents
- Success Potential: With the aging population and increase in access to care, the demand and need for dentistry is on the rise
- Self-Employment: Own a dental practice and be your own boss
A degree in Dentistry is a four-year professional degree. Students attend dental school after they have completed an undergraduate degree or a minimum of 90 semester hours toward a degree.
Most dental schools participate in the Associate American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS), including the three schools listed below.
Entrance Exam Requirements
The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is required for admission to dental programs. The exam covers concepts in Biology and Chemistry, as well as reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, and perceptual ability.
Letters of Evaluation/Recommendation
Your adviser from the Health Professions Advising Committee will compose a composite letter from the letters of recommendation you solicit from professors, supervisors, research mentors, and others who know you in professional or service contexts; that letter will also contain a rating of you on behalf of the committee based on your academic record, service, experience, and other factors. Students should consult early and closely with their adviser to determine whom to solicit for letters of recommendation.
Most dental schools usually require personal, on-campus interviews, though how many applicants are interviewed and at what point in the application timeline those interviews take place varies widely. Members of the Health Professions Advising Committee conduct at least one mock interview with applicants the spring before they apply; subsequent mock interviews are readily available and heartily encouraged.
Websites and Resources