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Schools with Dentistry Programs

Graduates of dental school programs can choose from a variety of career paths and may also choose to pursue research later in their career. Dentists are trained to diagnose, treat, and prevent problems pertaining to the mouth, teeth, and tissues in the oral area. They may be involved with extracting teeth, removing decay, filling cavities, and repairing fractured teeth. They are often responsible for administering anesthetics and writing prescriptions. While some work in independently owned, private practices, others may work at hospitals or with a large group of specialists.

Job Description and Responsibilities of Dental School Graduates

Graduates of dental schools may work in a group office or set up their own practice. They may choose work with partners, or with a team of associate dentists. Common tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Handling equipment such as x-ray machines, drills, and dental instruments
  • Wearing appropriate clothing and adhering to strict hygienic guidelines
  • Adhering to ethical laws and regulations
  • Providing instruction on diet, brushing, flossing, and the use of fluorides
  • Administering the appropriate anesthetics, and writing prescriptions for antibiotics
  • Overseeing administrative tasks of dental assistants, dental hygienists, and dental laboratory technicians

A career in dentistry requires specific abilities and skills, and this is developed over time. These may include:

  • Good visual memory
  • Strong judgment
  • Good diagnostic ability and manual skills
  • Strong scientific ability
  • Self-discipline and good business sense
  • Strong communication skills

Career Options After Dental School

Graduates can choose to work in a variety of fields and they may pursue nine distinct specializations. These include:

  • Orthodontists, who are involved with straightening teeth
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeons, who are involved with operating on the mouth and jaws
  • Pediatric dentists, who focus on dentistry for children
  • Periodontists, who are involved with treating gums and bone
  • Prosthodontists, who are involved with replacing missing teeth with permanent fixtures
  • Endodontists, who are involved with performing root canal therapy
  • Public health dentists, who are involved with promoting good health in the community
  • Oral pathologists, who are involved with studying oral diseases
  • Oral and maxillofacial radiologists, involved with diagnosing diseases in the neck

State Exams and Licensing After Dental School

All dentists must earn a license in order to practice, and this is required by all 50 states in the United States and the District of Columbia. Each student must pass a written and practical examination. This is then approved by the State licensing department that administers the National Dental Board Examination. Each state is responsible for administering the exam at various regional testing agencies.

Dental schools themselves require at least two years of college-level education in any industry. Students can choose to focus on predental education where coursework focuses on sciences, biology, mathematics, and chemistry. Dental school can be competitive as jobs are in high demand. Each school requires applicants to pass the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). This test also takes into account an applicant's grade point average and activities.

The majority of programs last 4 years, and award degrees such as the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a degree in the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). During the first two years, students take part in classroom instruction and lab work in the basic sciences. The last two years often involve treating patients under the supervision of licensed dentists.

Dental Schools Accreditation

The American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation is responsible for accreditation of 56 dental schools around the country.

Dental School Graduates Earning Potential and Employment Prospects

The demand for dentists is growing, and steady job growth is expected through 2014. Many dentists eventually take over practices that they work for, or establish their own. The baby boomer generation, youth, and elderly all have increasing needs for dental treatment. Dentists made a median salary of $129,920 in 2004, and these earnings vary depending on the level of experience and type of specialization. Related occupations include:

  • Optometrists
  • Chiropractors
  • Veterinarians
  • Podiatrists
  • Surgeons
  • Psychologist
  • Military Dentistry
  • Academic Dentistry
  • Dental Laboratory Technology
  • Hospital Dentistry


Back to Schools with Dentistry Programs



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