A dentist performs a wide variety of functions, including diagnosing and treating oral disease, educating patients on disease prevention and treatment, supervising patient care, prescribing medications, and improving the delivery of oral health care. Although most dentists provide direct patient care, some concentrate on basic or applied research, become teachers and/or administrators, or combine various elements of these activities.
The education to become a dentist is rigorous. After completing an undergraduate degree, you will be required to complete four years of dental school. After graduation, dentists can choose several different options: begin practicing as a dentist, continue their education by specializing in fields such as orthodontics, pediatrics, or periodontics (to name a few), conduct research, or go into a general practice residency (GPR).
Dentists shoulder a great deal of responsibility. They should be able to recognize their own limitations, respect the rights of others, and have tolerance of personal belief systems and life experiences different from their own. Other important characteristics include maturity, integrity, perseverance, honesty, compassion and empathy. Critical thinking, problem-solving, and a strong science foundation is paramount, and a basic background in business has the potential to be helpful.
Every preheatlh student struggles somewhat with knowing what they need to do and where they need to start in order to accomplish their goal of practicing dentistry. There are many obligations that every prehealth student must meet, from job shadowing, to performing well in coursework, to community service, but it is possible to do everything you need to by starting now and working consistently throughout your undergraduate years. Please review our prehealth orientation meeting packet or explore the following information to learn what it means to be a predental student.
Official Guide to Dental Schools - specific dental school requirements
The process of applying to dental school can be intensive and time-consuming, however with methodical and consistent planning it is completely manageable. Please review the following pages and when you have questions please contact the advising office.