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How to Become a Dentist: A Step by Step Guide



Did you know that there are 188,344 dentist businesses in the US alone?

Looking at this number, you’d think that becoming a dentist is easy. But it can be pretty daunting if you don’t know what steps to take. Dentists play a vital role in society, so their industry is highly regulated.

Nonetheless, this shouldn’t affect your desire to become one. Read on for a breakdown of steps on how to become a dentist.

Let’s get into it!

Take Math and Science Classes in High School

Starting your dentistry journey in high school sounds weird, right? After all, only a few people know the direction their life will take in high school.

If you do, starting your preparations for dental school early would be best. Taking many math and science classes is a step in the right direction. It’ll prepare you for some of the courses you’ll take in college.

If possible, focus on advanced placement classes like AP Biology, Calculus, and Chemistry. But, this doesn’t mean you should overload yourself in high school. Remember, your teenage years are supposed to be fun, so only take what you can manage.

Reach Out to Various Dentists

This is the best way to determine if dentistry is the right career path for you. Email various dentists, asking them about the dentistry industry. They’ll be of more help than any dentistry book you can find in the library.

You can also request the dentists to allow you to shadow them for a while. Join in on dental consultations and any other process you may find interesting. This will help you decide whether dentistry is something you can do long-term.

Choose a Science Major

The next step after high school and getting into college is choosing your major. You don’t need a specific major to qualify for dental school. But you can improve your chances by focusing on sciences and health-oriented majors.

Depending on your preferences, you can major in physics, biology, chemistry, or anatomy. Ensure you excel in whichever major you choose, as that’ll determine if you get into dental school.

While in college, you can also join dental clubs and organizations. One such organization is the American Student Dental Association, which advises prospective dentists.

Take the Dental Admission Test (DAT)

The DAT is a lot like the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Both are unique to students interested in joining either the dentistry or law field.

Though you can sit for the test all year round, it’d be best to start preparing for it in your junior year of college. You can then take the test in the spring of your junior year or at the start of your senior year. That’ll enable you to go to dental school immediately after completing college.

Your score, GPA, and recommendations will determine whether you enter dental school. So, ensure you pass the DAT and get several credible references. Also, ensure you maintain a GPA of at least 3.2 to improve your chances of getting into a good dental school.

Earn a Dental Degree

The next step is getting your doctorate from dental school. Here are your two options:

• Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD)
• Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)

Though seemingly different, the two doctorates are the same. A dentist with a DMD is just as qualified as one with a DDS since they involve similar coursework and skills. So, don’t be worried if your chosen dental school only offers one option.

Become Licensed

All states require dental school graduates to get licenses to practice. So, take time to understand your state’s licensure requirements. Here are some standard requirements:

  •  Dental school graduation
  •  Passing a written exam
  •  Passing a clinical exam

Graduation from an accredited dental school is necessary in all states. And so is the passing of Part I and Part II written exams.

These exams are issued by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. You can take them during your final years of dental school to fasten your career path.

Passing the clinical exam is a requirement in most, but not all states. So, take time to understand your state’s rules while still in school. This way, you’ll be better prepared for whichever test your state offers.


Most graduates choose general dental careers, allowing them to offer regular dental services. But, you can always specialize in a subset of dentistry to offer more targeted dental care. Here are the specializations to consider:

  • Prosthodontics
  • Periodontics
  • Endodontics
  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Dental public health

You’ll need to continue learning if you decide to specialize in any of the above fields. You’ll also need to seek a specialty license on top of your general dentistry license.

It may seem like a lot of work, but the types of dentists who specialize earn more than the rest. So, the extra workload will be worthwhile.

Open a Dental Practice

After accomplishing all your achievements, starting a dental practice is the next step. There’s a sense of pride brought on by owning a practice. So, don’t focus on remaining employed all your life.

Maintaining a dental practice isn’t half as challenging as people make it seem if you know what to do. Like other businesses, dental practices thrive from attracting many clients.

So, don’t skimp on your marketing budget. Seek DDS marketing services to get your name out there and attract clients.

Then, ensure you provide the best quality care by actualizing all you’ve learned. Also, find the right staff, as they’ll determine how clients perceive your business. Your employees should have a background in dentistry or a basic understanding of what you do.

Learn How to Become a Dentist by Following This Guide

Hopefully, you now know how to become a dentist after reading this article. As you’ve seen, the process is relatively straightforward.

With passion and drive, it’ll only take a few years for you to become a successful dentist. Start working as early as now, regardless of whether you’re in high school or on a different career path.

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