Dentists are members of the healthcare profession that may not be as popular as medical doctors, but they are doctors just the same. The only difference is that they specialize in matters that pertain to the teeth and the oral cavity. If you don’t mind tinkering with the oral cavities of people you hardly know on a personal basis, then you’ve got it cut to be a dentist. Here are some tips to becoming a dentist.
Get a bachelor’s degree that is somehow relevant to the profession of dentistry
One of the most crucial things you need to do is to obtain a bachelor’s degree that is highly relevant to the profession of dentistry. It is important to get the facts, the principles, and the theories that will help prepare you for dentistry. You might consider a bachelor’s degree in the sciences such as biology since you will mostly be dealing with humans as your patients. Of course, if you can also excel in chemistry and physics, then this will also provide you with exceptional foundations. While you’re taking a baccalaureate degree, you might also want to participate in a dental mentoring program or even a dental school prep program.
Take and pass the dental admission test
Colleges and universities that offer a degree in dental medicine require their prospective students to take and pass a nationally-administered dental admission test. This helps lay the groundwork for evaluating your suitability to enter dental school. Of course, different schools may also have additional requirements such as your grade point average, letters of recommendation, and even interviews as well as a series of other tests.
Earn a degree in dental medicine
Earning a degree in dental medicine or even dental surgery typically requires about 4 years of coursework and clinical practice. The first two years are generally allotted to providing you with the correct theoretical knowledge that will help guide you in your practice of the profession. These can include anatomy and physiology of the human oral cavity, oral pathology, orthodontics, periodontics, pharmacology, dental anesthesia, and even radiology, just to name a few. The theories, principles, and concepts provided in the first two years of dental school life will pave the way to their application in a clinical setting beginning in the 3rdyear. The dental clinical rotation is where students get to apply the many principles and theories learned in the first 2 years. Here, they get to meet real patients, diagnose their oral health condition, and provide appropriate treatment, but under the guidance and supervision of licensed dental instructors.
Get officially licensed
Like medical doctors, dentists need to obtain a professional license to practice. The requirements for state licensure actually vary from state to state. However, you will need to pass the national examination provided by the national board of dentistry. The test is usually a 2-part exam that covers the fundamentals of the dental sciences, clinical procedures, and professional ethics, among others. The state’s dental licensing board will also require candidates to take and pass a practical examination. There may be other requirements which candidates for licensure may have to comply with.
Always consider specializing in a particular area
While some may consider being a generalist dentist sufficient, many would strive for specialization. For example, you may want to venture into dentofacial orthopedics, maxillofacial pathology, pediatric dentistry, or even dental public health, among others. Do understand, however, that if you do decide to pursue post-DDS or post-DMD education, it will usually take about 2 to 4 years of extra schooling plus a residency of about 1 to 2 years, depending on the program you wish to take. Only then will you be eligible to apply for licensure on this dental specialization.
Don’t stop learning
One hallmark of a true professional is his hunger for continuing professional growth. Successful dentists don’t rest on their DDS or DMD degrees or even their post-DMD or post-DDS specializations. They always stay up-to-date with the latest trends. They never stop learning. They typically enroll in a variety of certificate courses that will help them serve their patients a lot better.
These are just some of the things you have to do if you want to become a really good dentist. Like any profession, being a dentist is more about lifelong learning.