As you probably already know, dentists are healthcare providers who focus on the care of teeth and gums. This is a growing profession that can allow someone with scientific knowledge and manual dexterity to apply those skills in serving patients’ dental needs. Many aspiring dentists are attracted to the idea of operating a private practice, incorporating business management skills into their work. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, approximately “3 out of 4 dentists are solo practitioners.”
Most dental school applicants complete an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree prior to beginning dental school. Prerequisites typically include coursework in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, calculus, and statistics. Dental school usually takes four years, more if a student decides to pursue training in a specialty area.
A good place to begin if you are interested in a dental career is shadowing a dentist. Make sure the environment is something you think you would enjoy, since the time spent in dental school and the financial resources needed to open a practice are significant investments. Second, take rigorous math and science courses, as suggested by your prehealth advisor. You will need to be able to excel in these courses to be competitive for dental school admissions.
The American Dental Association offers detailed information on preparing for a career in dentistry. Noted on the Predental Timeline is to “consider alternative career plans.” The path to a career as a dentist is difficult, and simply taking prerequisite courses does not guarantee admission to dental school. If you would like assistance with exploring alternatives, please stop by the Career Counseling office in Room 132 of the Sid Richardson building to schedule an appointment with a career counselor.