The field of dentistry offers prestige, flexibility, and financial security but, like all professions, requires not only the right education but perseverance. There are a number of requisites on how to become a dentist such as a degree from an accredited college or university, with a major in the biological sciences. The coursework for a bachelor’s degree is related to what the future dentist will encounter in dental school such as biology, anatomy, physics and two types of chemistry: organic and inorganic. Some colleges and universities offer pre-dental school programs to familiarize students with dental school.
Taking and Passing the Dental Admission Test (DAT)
The aspiring dentist must possess dexterity, communication skills and a background in the natural sciences. He or she is required to pass the DAT or Dental Admission Test in order to attend a dental school for four years. After graduation, he or she will be required to take a licensing exam to be able to practice. Some graduates just take the licensing exam required by the state they want to practice in while others take the All-State examinations so they can practice in all states. The DAT is conducted by the ADA, or American Dental Association, and includes the assessment of the applicant’s general academic ability, perceptual capability, and thorough understanding of relevant scientific information.
Requirements for Entry to Dental School
A graduate is required to take the DAT a year prior to the anticipated date of enrolment. After passing the DAT, the applicant can apply to his or her chosen dental school. It is crucial to attend a dental school which has been certified by the ADA. Applicants to dental school are accepted – or rejected – based on their respective GPAs or grade point averages, recommendations, DAT scores, and, sometimes, internships and extra-curricular activities. Coursework in dental school will include health sciences subjects in biochemistry, anatomy, pathology, radiology, microbiology, physiology, pharmacology, and dental anesthesiology. In dental school, the health sciences will be taught as they are applicable to general dentistry as well as patient care. Some dental schools also offer business management, professional ethics, and community health subjects which would prove useful if the student opens a dental clinic.
Surviving Dental School and Beyond
Dental school’s first two years concentrate on laboratory studies and the coursework. Students will have laboratory sessions in which they apply dental techniques they have learned in their classes. Students will also participate in clinical practice and treat patients with the dental instructor’s supervision. Upon graduation from dental school, the aspiring dentist must take the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE). A graduate who wishes to practice dentistry in a particular state will have to take the qualifying exam and pass it to be issued by that state. Some states, like Louisiana, for instance, conduct their own board examinations.
Dental GP or Orthodontist?
Although a majority of dentists are GPs or general practitioners, some go on to specialize to become orthodontists and establish their own practice or work in a dental clinic. Dental GPs diagnose dental issues on gums and teeth while orthodontists deal with straightening teeth and the correction of improper bites. Before going to dental school to learn how to become a dentist, the individual can already decide whether he or she will be a dentist-employee or a proprietor of his or her own dental clinic. This makes it easier to for the newly-licensed dentist to hire and train his or her own dental staff later on.
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