When it comes to dentistry, you probably want someone who’s highly trained to deal with and take care of the health of your teeth. After all, you wouldn’t just let some random stranger put his or her hands in your mouth and examine your teeth for cavities and signs of gum disease, would you? Rest assured, dentists receive a large amount of training and education prior to ever practicing on patients, but what exactly does it take to become a dentist? Read on to find out:
The Education of a Dentist
- Finish College — Dentists in the United States have to have acquired a Bachelor’s Degree of some sort to be admitted to an accredited Dental School. The degree itself is not important but would-be-dentists have to enroll in and pass pre-dental courses such as Chemistry and Biology in order to be considered as an applicant to a Dental School. Because of this, most dentists complete their undergraduate degree in a field of natural science such as Biology.
- Attend a Dental School — Admission and selection of applicants into Dental school is dependent primarily on your College GPA (usually at least 3.3, if not higher) and your Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores. Dental school typically is a four year commitment in which students learn fundamentals of dentistry including more in-depth biology, physiology and anatomy courses. Many students will obtain work as an assistant or shadow a dentist in an established office during their time in dental school. At graduation, dentists will gain a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree which allows them to practice general dentistry.
- State Requirements — Dentists may need to fulfill additional requirements before they can practice, differing from state-to-state this may include another written examination or other requirements.
- Specialization — If a dental professional chooses to specialize beyond a general dentistry certification, they will need to obtain additional post-graduate education and typically complete a residency requirement. The most common of these specializations that you may have heard of are orthodontists, periodontists, or oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
- Continuing Education — Dentistry is a constantly evolving profession. Many dentists elect to (or are required to in order to maintain their license) take continuing education courses in the field of dentistry to learn about new treatments, technologies and knowledge in the field.
If you’re curious about the typical education of dentists, would like to learn more about Dr. D’Alfonso’s education, or would like to schedule an appointment contact the Lakeway Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry today.