How Do I Get Certified To Be A Dentist?

DentalPost takes a look at the training and education required to become a Dentist.

Have you dreamed of opening a dental practice? Perhaps you plan on joining a group practice at a leading dental center in the United States? Today, entering a high quality dental program and training to become a full-time Dentist is of interest to many premed students.

The length of time you spend completing your dental education program varies, based upon the type of dental services you plan to offer. At a minimum, you’ll want to obtain a college education and then complete a four-year graduate training program at an American Dental Association (“ADA”) approved institution.

Many specialists continue their formal education for several additional years. Training to become a specialized Pediatric Dentist or an Endodontist requires a significant time commitment. Practicing general dentistry requires only four years of graduate school study.

Medical Training And Your Dental Dreams

Why does a general Dentist even need such rigorous academic training? In the United States and other developed nations, a Dentist works as a medical doctor who specializes in oral health. Whether you obtain a DDS or a DMD, you must possess an excellent background in science and medicine in order to provide safe dental care to your patients.

Some types of dental problems might potentially seriously harm or kill your patients. Even if you encounter life-threatening medical issues only rarely during your dental career, you’ll want to feel confident addressing these emergencies. Dentists often administer controlled substances, and you’ll carry heavy legal responsibilities to store, utilize, and document the use of these drugs properly.

Could you identify an oral cancer if you noticed symptoms in a patient requesting teeth cleaning? Would you know how to safely extract a tooth from a patient with a serious abscess, a high fever, or a chronic illness? What would you do if your patient suddenly stopped breathing during a tooth filling procedure?

For many reasons, Dentists require in-depth knowledge about physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, and other medical subjects. Popular Dentist jobs today range from general dentistry to working in specialized oral health care fields. Some Dentists exclusively perform dental surgeries, while others prefer to teach or to practice in oral health maintenance fields.

Gaining Admission to an Accredited Dental Training Program

Admission to ADA-approved dental programs remains competitive. To increase your chance of gaining acceptance, consider taking challenging math and science courses as a high school and college student. You’ll also want to study other important subjects, too, including classes teaching basic communication skills.

It usually makes sense to speak about your career goals with a knowledgeable high school or college guidance counselor. These professionals can help you identify your interests and potential career aptitudes. (Try and find out which prerequisite courses your preferred accredited dental program requires as you’ll need to complete these classes in order to gain admission).

Most dental programs in the United States prefer students to take basic introductory math and science college classes during college. Due to the competitive admissions process, you’ll want to maintain a grade point average that meets your preferred graduate program’s minimum requirements). Learn about approved dental programs and admission requirements for your preferred school on the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation page.

Training in the USA to Become the Dentist in Your Community

Whether you work as a general Dentist in your own practice, or you obtain employment as a temporary Dentist or as an Associate Dentist, the quality of your training matters. Most dental students spend roughly two years in a classroom setting and two years in clinical rotations or preceptorships. You’ll need to pass two national board examinations to continue with your studies during this period.

The subjects that interest you during your training may lead you to choose either general practice or a dental specialty, such as oral surgery. For example, some licensed Dentists continue their education after graduation and become Board Certified specialists in cosmetic dentistry, pediatric dentistry, or other fields. In most states, as a full-time Dentist, you’ll have the ability to perform many types of dental procedures, including dental surgeries.

Most licensed Dentists maintain malpractice insurance. Your training as a student exposes you to a variety of different types of dentistry. Consider selecting the Dentist opportunity most closely matching your interests and aptitudes so you can pursue a rewarding career, both personally and financially.

Will You Specialize or Work as a General Dentist?

Currently, obtaining a dental education sometimes costs as much as $200,000. Some new graduates launch their own professional practices, while others find employment with an established practice. Still other graduates substitute full-time or part-time on a fee-for-service basis when dental Associates go on vacation or fall ill.

Sometimes an Associate Dentist decides to pursue additional educational opportunities to become Board Certified. Specialists may develop their own patient base in a private practice, or join with other Dentists offering specialized care services. In some cases, job postings advertise openings for Dentists through local hospitals or medical clinics.

Working in a hospital or group practice setting may offer the perfect opportunity to pursue advanced specialized training in a dental field. Obtaining this education does require an investment of time and money, yet it may yield a higher professional salary over the course of someone’s career in dentistry. Today furnishing a high standard of patient care in the United States often involves consultations with well-educated specialists.

Will You Fill a Job Alert Following Graduation?

Whether you find a full-time position working as a Dentist or in a closely related field remains entirely up to you!

A typical American Dentist role can encompass many areas of dental practice. Licensed Dentists may work closely with other allied health professionals, including x-ray technicians, consulting physicians, laboratory technicians, and a large dental team. Furnishing complete dental office care may involve bringing on the services provided by an Associate General Dentist, a Dental Assistant, a Registered Dental Hygienist, a Surgical Nurse, and a Front Office Receptionist.

Dental Nurses, Hygienists, and other dental team clinicians work under the direction of a managing Dentist, of course. These individuals make important contributions to the quality of patient care.  Whether a patient seeks new dentures or a consultation with a part-time Hygienist, the entire dental team remains committed to rendering excellent, attentive service.

Are You the Right Candidate?

Will you decide to pursue the dental career of your dreams? Many individuals enjoy highly rewarding professional lives in this exciting field. Even if you don’t choose to undertake the rigorous academic training and years of study necessary to become a Dentist, you’ll discover many interesting career paths qualifying you to work in dental care settings.

Helping people maintain great oral health contributes to the well being of everyone. Consider visiting the American Dental Association (“ADA”) website to learn more about this important area of health care. As the industry’s premier (and largest) Internet job board, DentalPost can help you chart your career path and find a job you love in the dynamic dental field!


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