Most students who choose to go to dental school complete a traditional four-year bachelors degree program first, often majoring in a science discipline, like chemistry or biology. Some students are able to complete only two or three years of college before they apply to dental school. Once accepted into the dental school, they can complete the bachelors degree there.
You will also learn about professional ethics, diagnostic skills, and how to assess patients properly. You will be taught how to develop effective treatment plans using current methods and technology. When you graduate, you will be awarded either the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree or the Doctor of Dental Medicine degree, depending on which school you enrolled in. However, you should note that both degrees are equivalent.
Dental school admission can be extremely competitive, even for the top students. They are judged on not only their undergraduate academic performance, but also how well they score on the Dental Admissions Test (also known as the DAT). Students can take the DAT before they graduate from college, if they feel ready.
Some colleges have accelerated programs that allow students to finish their bachelors degree and complete their dental degree within seven years. Students will be given a heavy course load in the first few years with many pre-dental topics in the physical sciences. There will also be a dental education component in the curriculum. Students will be expected to maintain a specific grade point average in the program and score well on the DAT. In the final years of the program, students will learn advanced dentistry.
Once a student is accepted into a dental school, he or she will complete four years of study to earn their Doctor of Dental Medicine or Doctor of Dental Surgery. The first two years are normally spent learning about dental science in a classroom setting, with lab work as well. They typically take courses in histology and oral anatomy. Later on, students will participate in clinical practicums so that they can get hands-on experience.
The graduates must then obtain a license from a state dentistry board in order to practice. This involves passing written and practical exams which are quite hard. The state board will administer the exam; however, the second competent, which is the written competent, is administered by the American Dental Association.
Dentists can specialize in certain dentistry fields, like pediatric dentistry or orthodontics. Specializing involves an additional two to four years of postgraduate education plus a residency program. Normally, you also need to get a specialty license when your postgraduate training is complete, and you will have to sit a specialty exam for your license.
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