Dentists diagnose and treat problems with a patient’s teeth, gums, and other parts of the mouth. They also administer advice for care and prevention of future dental problems.
"Dentistry is the branch of the healing arts and sciences devoted to maintaining the health of teeth, gums and other hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity and adjacent structures. A dentist is a scientist and clinician dedicated to the highest standards of health through prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral diseases and conditions." (ADEA, 2010)
Dentists can practice in several clinical fields including general dentistry, dental public health, endodontics (dental nerves and pulp), orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics (tissue and bone supporting teeth), and oral and maxillofacial pathology, radiology, and surgery.
As an undergraduate student, you may choose any major in preparation for attending dentistry school. Dentistry schools do not have a specific preference on a particular major, so you are encouraged to choose a major based on your own personal interests and strengths. What’s important is that you have completed the prerequisite courses required by the institution you are applying to.
Requirements may vary from school to school, so you will want to research different program requirements. In general, most dental schools will expect applicants to have completed the following types of courses:
|Required or Recommended
|General Chemistry I
|General Chemistry I Lab
|General Chemistry II
|General Chemistry II Lab
|Organic Chemistry I
|Organic Chemistry I Lab
|Organic Chemistry II
|Organic Chemistry II Lab
|Biochemistry I Lab
|Cell Biology Lab
|Organismal Biology Lab
|Human Anatomy Lab
|Human Physiology Lab
|BIOL 275, MATH 234, PSY 230L
|PHYS 160/L or PHYS 200/L
|College/General Physics I & Lab or Physics I with Calculus & Lab
|PHYS 161/L or PHYS 201/L
|College/General Physics II & Lab or Physics II with Calculus & Lab
*Other courses may be required/recommended by specific programs. You are responsible for knowing the requirements for each individual program. Policies on AP, IB and community college credits vary by institution.
Find a complete listing of dental schools and their specific requirements.
DAT: Dental Admissions Test
The current DAT focus on the four sections below:
- Survey of Natural Sciences (biology, chemistry, organic chemistry)
- Perceptual Ability Test
- Reading Comprehension
- Quantitative Reasoning (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc.)