If you have a penchant for oral hygiene and love science or medical science in particular, then dentistry can be a rewarding profession. Being a dentist will lead you to a satiating life with amazing financial rewards. However, the career can be demanding, at least when you are in the initial days of practice when your skills and expertise would be put to test.
How to become a dentist has a very standard approach. There are no shortcuts and if you have it in you then there’s no stopping you. Here is a step by step guide to become a dentist and to start a successful career.
- You must attend high school and should have biology, chemistry, physics and math in your curriculum. You cannot apply for dental schools later if you don’t study these subjects.
- You would have to choose a dental school or college. Every dental school or college requires you to sign up for an undergraduate course. Some colleges will accept a bachelor’s degree in one of the science subjects while some schools may have specific undergraduate programs. You should check the websites of dental schools and find out their requirement.
- Take the Dental Admissions Test and then apply to a dental school. Do not opt for any random school. Look for those that are accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). You would be chosen on the basis of your grades during the undergraduate program, your DAT score, recommendations and the personal interview during the admission process.
- Dental school will take four years during which time you would study microbiology, anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. You would also have to attend clinical courses other than classroom training. Over the four years, you would be trained in all types of dentistry.
- Do not wait for the completion of your dental school before you start working. Ideally, you should get a job at a dental practice or clinic and work as an assistant or as one of the staff to get some experience. This will help you later.
- Once you graduate from a dental school, you would be a Doctor of Dental Surgery, referred to as DDS. But this isn’t the end. You should take the National Board Dental Exam and the state specific licensing exam. Subject to the results of the two tests, you would become a licensed dentist to operate in your state.
- Once you have become a dentist, you may choose to further your career by specializing yourself in one or more branches of dentistry.