Becoming a Dentist
Becoming a dentist generally involves about eight years of education. First, you must obtain a bachelorís degree from an undergraduate school. After you receive a bachelorís degree, you will need to complete a dental degree program and become licensed by your stateís licensing board. Although it requires a heavy amount of dedication, becoming a dentist can be very rewarding, both personally and financially.
Though you may achieve a high level of success in this field, the process of becoming a dentist will require great dedication. Most jobs in the medical field require quite a bit of specialized education, and this is no exception. The amount of schooling you will need typically takes eight years and can be quite expensive. First, you will probably need to complete a four-year undergraduate program and obtain a bachelorís degree. For most dental schools, having this type of degree is mandatory before admission. Your degree is not required to be in any specific pre-dental major, but courses in biology and chemistry will help you prepare for dental school.
The second step involves completion of a dental degree program approved by the American Dental Association. Specifically, the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditations is responsible for the evaluation and approval of these programs. You must complete a Dental Admission Test before you can apply for dental school. This test measures your knowledge, academic ability and intuition. In addition to your score on the test, schools also evaluate your GPAs, recommendation letters, and interview performances. Completion of this degree program usually takes another four years.
The first two years of dental school primarily consist of laboratory and classroom work in health and dental science. Your courses might include periodontics, orthodontics, oral pathology, and pharmacology. The second phase of school involves more hands-on work diagnosing and treating patients under instructor supervision. At the end of this school, you will receive either a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. After program completion, you must become licensed before you can be a practicing dentist. Licensure requirements vary by state, but, for all of them, you must successfully pass the National Board Dental Examination. This is a two-part written exam that measures your knowledge of clinical procedures, dental sciences, and ethics. You will also need to pass a practical exam given by your stateís licensing board.
Once you are fully educated and licensed, you may seek employment in another doctorís private practice or start your own. You may also want to consider continuing your education even further to become a specialist, a teacher, or a researcher. The additional education you will need can take anywhere from two to five more years.
Proper oral care is a necessary part of maintaining your overall good health. For this reason, there will always be a demand for dentists. This demand is likely to grow as cosmetic procedures continue to become more popular. If you decide to pursue this type of education, it will take a strong personal commitment and several years to achieve a rewarding career.
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