Dentists are trained medical personnel who deal with problems relating to patients’ teeth, gums and other parts of the mouth. If you are interested in becoming one, the following guide on the requirements to become a dentist would be of great use to you.

Requirements to Become a Dentist in the US

To get into the field of dentistry, there are several qualifications you need to attain. The main requirements to become a dentist can be divided into the following three sections:

Education Requirements to Become a Dentist in the US

The entry level education in this field is a doctoral or a professional degree, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dentists are required to have a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree through a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

To get admission into a dental school, candidates will be required to have a bachelor’s degree in any major. Following that, they will need to pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and apply to dental schools. Dental schools will check your DAT scores, along with letters of recommendation and will also conduct interviews for further screening.

While enrolled in a dental school, students will be exposed to subjects such as local anesthesia, periodontics, anatomy, radiology, pharmacology and oral pathology etc.

The last two years of this 4-year long dental program would focus on clinical practice under supervised staff.

Training Requirements to Become a Dentist in the US

General dentists do not require any additional training beyond the completion of their dental degree. For dentists who have chosen specializations such as orthodontists, oral pathologists, pediatric dentists or oral and maxillofacial surgeons, additional training will be required. The amount of time needed to complete this additional training would depend on the specialty. For instance, oral and maxillofacial surgery programs would typically take an additional 4 to 6 years to complete, after dental school.

Licensing Requirements to Become a Dentist in the US

All dentists who intend to practice in the US are required to be licensed according to their state laws. Requirements for licensure may vary by state, but generally involve a DDS or a DMD degree from an accredited program, clearing a written exam and passing state or regional exams.

For dentists who want to pursue a career in a specialized field, an additional license would be required. Requirements for such a license would involve the completion of a residency program after dental school.

How Much Can I Make as a Dentist in the US?

The 2018 median pay for dentists in the US was a high $156,240 per year. This equals to $75.12 per hour. Salaries vary according to the dentist’s location, number of years in practice, specialty and number of hours worked per week. This data has been extracted from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Dentist in the US?

To become a dentist, it can take 8 or more years, after a high school diploma. This includes a 4-year long bachelor’s degree and a 4-year long dental degree. If you have chosen to specialize in a particular field, that would require additional years of training.