Do you have a life’s dream of becoming an accomplished Dentist in your area? If so, get ready to dedicate yourself to the field, which includes spending your time, money, and efforts in earning a Doctor of Dentistry degree!
Many think that dentists only pull teeth, install braces and check oral health, among other conventional services, but you would be surprised. Dentists also perform body alterations, from making teeth appear like fangs to splitting the tongue!
In the technical and legal aspects, dentists can perform virtually anything that their patients request, provided that it won’t create issues with function.
Although memories of going to your own dentist might not have been so pleasant, nonetheless, their services are invaluable when you have tooth pain, right? The field of dentistry is a lucrative one, so if you have the time and ambition, you could become a dentist yourself by earning a Doctor of Dentistry degree.
As they do provide a wide range of services, you can choose a specialization if you have an interest in a particular area. Through clinical training, you can get the feel for a concentration that suits you, or can open your own general dentistry practice. You will need to pass the National Board Dental Examination.
History of Dentistry…
The history of dentistry can be traced back from 7000 BC to 5500 BC or as early as the history of human civilization itself. Among the earliest evidence is teeth drilled with flint tools as a decay removal method. Such is the early adoption of dentistry that it’s believed to be the first specialization in medicine!
Nowadays, dentistry is an evidence-based branch of medicine covering the study and the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illnesses and injuries of the oral cavity. The parts covered include the teeth, gums, and temporomandibular joint and the nervous, muscular, lymphatic, and vascular structures that support them. The official name given to practitioners of dentistry, also known as dental medicine, is dentists.
Most, if not all, dental treatments cannot be carried out by a dentist alone, although it’s possible but more challenging. Instead, a dentist usually works with a team of dental auxiliaries to ensure safe, effective, and efficient treatments. The dental auxiliaries include dental assistants, dental technicians, dental hygienists, and dental therapists.
A Dentist’s Salary…
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that dentists earned $164,010 in median annual wage (May 2020), among the highest-paid occupations. General dentists earn $158,940 per year on average, while specialists, such as orthodontists, prosthodontists, and oral surgeons, earn $208,000 and more per year.
Dental schools are a dime a dozen, but for some of the best, you should check these out. The 20 DMD or DDS degree programs featured here are graduate dental school programs in the sense that among their primary requirements for admission is a bachelor’s degree. These aren’t post-graduate programs for specializations, a distinction that must be made.
These were chosen based on the following criteria:
- Valid dental accreditation from Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA),
- Selective to the highly selective admission process,
- Offering academic excellence in rigorous clinical training programs, dental surgery, and opportunities for research underline the curriculum,
- Faculty members with credentials that meet or exceed high academic standards,
- Satisfactory to highly satisfactory student support services,
- Availability of a wide range of financial aid opportunities and other funding services.
See our Methodology page for more information.
20 Best Doctor of Dentistry Graduate Schools
University of Michigan School of Dentistry
: 1011 North University Ave, Ann Arbor, Michigan
UMich School of Dentistry is a 146-year-old institution that offers the best education in oral and craniofacial health and patient care, advanced research, and community service. Such is its excellence in all these areas that it’s our #1 dentistry school! The DDS degree program welcomes individuals who want entry-level qualifications in dentistry, and it’s the best program on UMich’s roster.
- This four-year program requires a full-time commitment from its students (i.e., no part-time enrollment). There are 11.5 semesters in the competency-based program with a focus on basic sciences, biomedical sciences and clinical sciences, and patient care. Professionalism and ethics are also emphasized during the four-year stay.
- Students undergo the traditional white coat ceremony during their student-to-health professional transition after the D1 summer semester. This also marks the start of clinical experiences for students.
- The curriculum has delineated periods of study, from D1 to D4, with each period designed to establish the foundation of knowledge and skills for the succeeding period.
- The D1 to D3 phases enable students to gain technical and therapeutic skills for effective patient care, and these can include starting on patient care experiences as early as D1. The D3 to D4 years are when students participate in community-based dental clinics and activities.
- Students may also choose from four-year advanced educational pathways in the Pathways Program, namely, the Immersion Pathway and the Selectives Pathway.
- Application requirements include a bachelor’s degree or completion of 190 semester hours; at least 100 hours of direct shadowing; three letters of recommendation; and competitive DAT scores.
Students become immersed in the clinical training experiences as early as their first year in the program through a patient family arrangement. Instead of a requirement-based curriculum, it’s a competency-based program with vertical integration (i.e., each team is composed of students from all four-year levels).
UMich was the world’s first state university to offer an education in dentistry and the second in the United States (Harvard University was the first). The School of Dentistry houses the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, with several odd items like silk floss.
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – Claude A. Adams Jr. and Grace Phillips Adams School of Dentistry
: 385 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The UNC Adams School of Dentistry was the only one in The Tar Heel State until 2011, a 60-year gap between its founding and when East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine was established. The DDS program’s prestigious reputation comes from its innovative curriculum and groundbreaking technology, including digital dentistry in education.
Students have learning opportunities in underserved communities, dental clinics, and other healthcare settings during their clinical rotations.
- The tuition fee varies between North Carolina residents and non-residents, often nearly twice for the latter, so it’s important to know about residency rules.
- Students have abundant opportunities for socialization and networking, thanks to the dozens of student organizations like the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD) and the American Student Dental Association (ASDA).
- Faculty members and students work on collaborative research projects, including residents and visiting scholars, which introduce innovations in dentistry. The research topics are also wide-ranging, from dental education to oral cancer. Students may be allowed to present their research during Research Day and at national and international conferences.
- The conducive learning environment is partly due to the state-of-the-art facilities, including classrooms, dental material labs and simulation labs, case study rooms, and clinical facilities.
- Applicants are encouraged to earn a bachelor’s degree before applying, but at least three years or 96 semester hours of college courses may be accepted. The recommended courses are math, statistics, and molecular biology, among other prerequisites.
- A maximum of 64 credit hours from accredited online colleges or community colleges may be considered for transfer if additional coursework is completed.
Students in the four-year program are encouraged to apply the Advocate-Clinician-Thinker framework in their studies and professional practice. UNC encourages its students to become passionate advocates for quality patient care.
UNC Adams School of Dentistry is among the top 10 recipients of National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding, and its research breakthroughs are proof that it lives up to expectations.
Harvard University School of Dental Medicine
: 188 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts
HSDM offers the DMD program and several advanced and specialty training programs, including a Ph.D. program. The DMD program is unique in that all students have dual citizenship, so to speak, in the School of Dental Medicine and the Medical School. This is because Harvard considers dental medicine to be a specialty of medicine.
- The four-year program has a highly selective admission process that has resulted in The School of Dental Medicine being the smallest at Harvard. There are only about 280 students in all year levels.
- Students take advantage of the abundant resources for world-class education available at both schools, from the student support services to the research opportunities.
- Thanks to the dentistry-as-medicine-specialty approach, the curriculum enables students to have a solid foundation about the human body, including its relationships and functions. Students gain a strong understanding of the interdependency of general and oral health.
- Each year presents rich opportunities to establish foundational knowledge and skills, gain more advanced skill sets, and become more confident in your professional abilities.
- The Year One curriculum focuses on the basic sciences, including the fundamentals of medicine, with Medical School professors leading the classes.
- The Year Two curriculum emphasizes the foundations of integrated oral health with three longitudinal courses. The Dental Basic Science Foundations course, for example, is an integrative study on dental anatomy, physiology, and pathology.
- The Year Three and Four curricula focus on principal and advanced clinical experiences, respectively.
- The evaluation methods vary depending on year level, from formative and summative methods to competency-based comprehensive assessments.
HSDM has several other educational options for students to choose from aside from the world-renowned DMD program. The five-year DMD program allows students to engage in advanced research or become engaged in foreign dental health projects. The Health Sciences and Technology (HST) Program welcomes Biomedical Research, Molecular Science, or Quantitative Science students.
While Harvard’s motto emphasizes truth (Veritas), among its most popular attractions, contains lies! The Statue of Three Lies has three incorrect items – John Harvard was the university founder; Harvard was established in 1638, and the statue itself is John Harvard.
University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry
: 707 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco, California
The UCSF School of Dentistry is considered the oldest dental school in The Golden State and, with its uncontested reputation for academic excellence and research breakthroughs, it’s among the best schools! Its annual research funding is the highest among dental schools for more than 25 years, with a funding of $25.9 million in 2020.
The DDS program directly benefits from the research funding, particularly for students and faculty engaged in groundbreaking research.
- The four-year program has comprehensive coverage of the science, technology, and art behind contemporary dentistry. Students become competent and confident in their clinical and procedural skills while demonstrating compassion for patients and critical thinking skills.
- The curriculum has five core aspects, including patient evaluation, disease diagnosis, prevention of oral illnesses and injuries, and therapy.
- While a bachelor’s degree isn’t a requirement for acceptance, applicants must complete all prerequisite courses before being considered. Note that about 98% of students have a bachelor’s degree, so it’s highly recommended. There are, however, no preferred bachelor’s degrees; non-science majors may be required to complete additional upper-division courses aside from the prerequisites. Recommended courses include human anatomy, biology, microbiology, and physiology.
- The highly selective admission process means a competitive GPA is a must, with 3.6 as the average GPA for incoming students. The DAT score must also be competitive – around 22 in the Total Science and Academic Average sections.
- While shadowing hours and research experience aren’t a requirement, these are highly recommended. For shadowing or dental volunteer work, a minimum of 100 hours is recommended.
- Candidates are evaluated based on quantitative and qualitative measures, including academic record and potential, personal motivation, and interview performance.
The UCSF School of Dentistry has remained true to its tradition of service and, thus, the DDS program has a service-oriented curriculum. Students are motivated to achieve academic and clinical excellence while also being actively engaged in community service projects.
Student dentists work with residents and licensed dentists in consulting with more than 120,000 patient visits to the UCSF Dental Center every year. Their confidence in their abilities is developed early, resulting in the best learning and graduate outcomes.
University of California Los Angeles – School of Dentistry
: 714 Tiverton, Los Angeles, California
The UCLA School of Dentistry, a research-oriented school, is known for its highly selective DDS program and its dental and oral health research. Beyond its gates, the school is recognized for its outreach projects, including health fairs, dental services for underserved populations, and STEM pipeline programs.
Of course, its DDS program is among the more affordable programs, with graduates being less burdened by student loans.
- Academic excellence is its hallmark, and students are selected based on their prior academic record and potential, not to mention expected to keep up with the rigorous curriculum. Students also come from diverse backgrounds and, thus, contribute to the dynamism of the program.
- The 4-year program consists of 45 months that, in turn, are divided into 12 quarters, with each quarter consisting of 10 weeks. There are also the three mandatory nine-week summer terms. Students must then commit full-time, so outside jobs and other significant distractions are strongly discouraged.
- The small class sizes encourage more active involvement in didactic discussions and research projects and facilitate one-on-one faculty mentorship, if necessary. The entire program may have as few as 88 students for all year levels!
- Students learn foundational biomedical sciences followed by pre-clinical lab courses during their first two years. By their second year, students will have direct patient interactions in preparation for their clinical rotations.
- Students then proceed to the clinical curriculum phase, where evaluations are based on competency. Additional clinical experiences are also gained in specialty and community settings.
The UCLA School of Dentistry created a new unit known as Innovative Digital Dentistry Systems, where students learn digital dentistry and, thus, become forward-thinking individuals.
The Wilson-Jennings-Bloomfield UCLA Venice Dental Center and UCLA Dental Clinics in Westwood are large dental clinics that serve as the training grounds for dentistry students.
University of Washington School of Dentistry
: 1959 Ne Pacific St Ste B-307 Seattle, Washington
The UW School of Dentistry, the only one of its kind in The Evergreen State, is research-oriented and among its research emphases are anxiety, immune response to pathogens, and orofacial pain. Endodontics, Oral Medicine, and Pediatric Dentistry are among the eight departments in the school, while the DDS program is among its most popular.
- Candidates must meet the citizenship and residency requirements; pass the DAT within a specific date, and complete the prerequisite courses before matriculation. General and organic chemistry, general biochemistry, general physics, general biology or zoology, and general microbiology are the required courses; each course has a specific semester requirement.
- There’s no preferred undergraduate degree, and outstanding students with three years of college coursework may be considered for admission.
- The highly selective program only accepts 63 students for every incoming class. Every student has high academic standards of living up to, but plenty of student support services are offered.
- Students prepare for successful careers as orofacial healthcare professionals with strong research skills. Many graduates become researchers whose work in the multidisciplinary aspects of dental health is recognized by the industry.
- The program has several professional development opportunities for students, mainly through community outreach programs in underserved and minority communities.
The RIDE Program addresses the needs of oral healthcare professionals in rural and underserved communities in Washington State and the WWAMI region. The UW School of Dentistry partnered with the UW School of Medicine and Eastern Washington University for this program.
UW School of Dentistry has several unique clinics that address non-traditional needs in the communities. The DECOD—Dental Education in Care of Persons with Disabilities, Autism Clinic, and Advanced General Dentistry are examples.
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
: 240 South 40th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Penn Dental lives up to its Ivy League reputation by offering the best dentistry education in The State of Pennsylvania and beyond. Part of the UPenn Health System, it’s an exceptional training ground for future dentists through its DMD program.
The program has a strong commitment to proficient knowledge and skill development among students but also educational flexibility.
- The 4-year program offers funded dual-degree pathways in bioengineering, law, public health, education, bioethics, and business administration. Students then have the opportunity to combine the practice of dentistry and other professions, thus, expanding their horizons.
- Students may also apply to the competitive programs with pathways in radiological sciences, clinical dentistry, research, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and other areas.
- Each year level provides students with unique opportunities in building their body of knowledge and skills. The cohort-based program encourages students to work as a team and develop relationships well beyond dental school.
- First-year students study foundational medicine and dental medicine courses, emphasizing knowledge integration, meaning courses are grouped into integrative streams. The hands-on clinical experience starts at this point via a vertical clinical program where students from all year levels interact.
- Second-year students move on to a more advanced understanding of the pathology, function, and treatment of illnesses and injuries related to the oral cavity and its related organ systems. There are clinical rotations at the Advanced Simulation Laboratory and a pre-clinical restorative dentistry course.
- Third-year students start their comprehensive training as dental practitioners with an interdisciplinary perspective. This is followed by a fourth-year curriculum with clinical rotations, seminars, and continuing education courses.
Active community involvement is the distinguishing characteristic of UPenn Dental’s DMD program. Students become part of community outreach programs that provide dental health services to communities, many of which are underserved.
More than 16,000 hours are logged in total by students every year in these community outreach projects.
Every Honors student has the enviable opportunity of presenting their research work at the prestigious Penn Dental Research Day. The best students can win travel grants and other awards.
SUNY University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine
: 315 Squire Hall, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
UB School of Dental Medicine is one of two dental schools in the SUNY system, and these are the only public dental schools in The Empire State. With its budget-friendly tuition and world-class education, it’s no wonder that UB’s DDS program is so popular among aspiring dentists both in and out of the state!
- The four-year program trains students in the technical and transferable skill sets that will enable them to become respected clinicians. Students progress through the program as a cohort and, thus, build strong personal and professional relationships that last beyond their four-year stay.
- The first-year curriculum focuses on learning about organ systems and their normal functions and relationships. Students must understand the topics comprehensively because it’s the foundation for courses on abnormal development and pathology.
- Second-year students gain the clinical training and psychomotor skills involved in performing basic procedures and tools of patient care. General pathology and microbiology are studied alongside pre-clinical courses.
- The third-year curriculum strengthens the student’s understanding of clinical subjects, including pharmacology, oral pathology and radiology, and oral medicine. There are fewer lecture courses, but the clinical training increases – two days in classes, three full days in clinical.
- Fourth-year students have greater flexibility in their coursework, thanks to a wide selection of elective courses aligned with their interests and goals. Students enroll in at least two electives during the fall and spring terms.
- Candidates must have completed 60 credit hours or two full academic years at a post-secondary institution before their application. But candidates must have completed either 90 credits hours or a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in the program. Completion of prerequisite courses is also a must to be considered for admission.
UB is known for offering exceptional value in education, resulting in less student debt for its graduates. The student experience is characterized by rigorous didactic learning and clinical training complemented by service-oriented activities in the community.
UB students play hard as much as they study and work hard! With 100 inches of snow every year, students celebrate it by holding a winter festival where ice skating and other fun activities are enjoyed. UB also has its International Fiesta which celebrates the diverse UB community through dance and music.
New York University College of Dentistry
: 345 E. 24th Street, New York City, New York
The NYU College of Dentistry is the country’s largest dental school, with its alumni comprising nearly 10% of its dentists! Founded in 1865, it’s also the nation’s third oldest dental school and has evolved to become among the best, too. Here, students prepare to become the next generation of leaders in the healthcare industry, pioneers of research and education, and innovators in patient care.
- The program has 14 group practices that provide students with the benefits of small-group learning. Each group has about 27 students in each cohort, meaning it’s among the most selective programs.
- Students have ready access to the vast resources of NYU, among the United State’s most comprehensive universities with eight enormous libraries and numerous laboratories.
- The basic science faculty includes those from the Department of Molecular Pathobiology and dentistry students who benefit from a tailored curriculum. The program offers digital dentistry, virtual reality, and personalized learning experiences delivered by healthcare professionals.
- Students in their third and fourth years can personalize their education by choosing from numerous elective and honors courses. The impressive range includes Precision Medicine: Salivary Diagnostics and Genomics, Honors in Special Patient Care, and Dental Care for Survivors of Torture.
- Digitalized textbooks have replaced traditional textbooks in the program, and students have a license for these textbooks, too. Students can also view video streams and slide presentations of clinical and lab procedures.
- Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and meet prerequisite biology, chemistry, physics, and English requirements. DAT scores must be competitive, and candidates must provide letters of evaluation and proof of at least 100 hours of shadowing.
Students develop their competence and confidence through hands-on clinical experiences in healthcare settings and community outreach experiences. Each cohort also has ready access to exceptional student success services, including academic advising, faculty mentoring, and peer tutoring.
NYU College of Dentistry started its best-known community outreach program in 2000 called “Smiling Faces, Going Places.” This was the first mobile dentistry facility in the State of New York, and it’s a smashing success, too! But NYU students have a sweet tooth, too, and it’s evident in its annual Strawberry Festival, where a humongous strawberry shortcake is baked and shared.
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
: 630 West 168th Street, New York City, New York
CDM is considered among the most selective schools of dentistry in the country, with its students achieving exceptional GPA, DAT scores, and other qualitative factors. The acceptance rate can be as low as 4%, so candidates must meet the program’s exacting standards and pass the rigorous admission process.
The DDS program has high academic standards that its faculty members, including general dentists and board-certified specialists, uphold.
- The 4-year program has a rigorous curriculum that trains future leaders in dentistry. Students are encouraged to actively engage in their learning process through innovative approaches, critical thinking, and cultural sensitivity.
- While the courses are underlined by academic rigor, students benefit from the pass/fail grading system. The learning environment emphasizes effective learning, not competition among students.
- First-year dentistry students study with medical students in four foundational biomedical courses primarily taught by medical school professors. In the second semester, students start their clinical clerkships with clinical skills like the collection of patient history, diagnosis, and nutritional assessment are developed.
- Second-year students strengthen their biomedical education and start their pre-clinical training. Simulated practice sessions are done at the Center For Precision Dental Medicine.
- Third-year students enter their clinical rotations where demonstrations of competence in patient care are required. The fourth year is a continuation of clinical experiences in general dentistry.
- The Center for Precision Dental Medicine is the venue for students to personalize their education uniquely. The clinic gathers information that will aid students to succeed in their studies, particularly in their simulation and clinical work.
- There are only about 84 slots open for each annual cohort. Candidates are selected based on their academic record and potential, DAT scores, leadership potential, and community service. Integrity, passion, and commitment are also considered.
CDM’s DDS program is one of only four schools of dentistry that recognize the interrelated relationship between medicine and dentistry, not just dentistry as a specialty of medicine. Thus, dentistry and medical students learn together for 18 months in their first year.
The Havemeyer 309 lecture hall is the most used hall in Hollywood movies and, thus, the most recognizable at Columbia. Spider-man, Mona Lisa’s Smile, and Ghostbuster are among the movies filmed here. Columbia isn’t lacking in Hollywood glamour via its alumni, too – James Franco, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Julia Stiles are among its famous alumni.
The University of Colorado – School of Dental Medicine
: 13065 East 17th Avenue, Aurora, Colorado
CU Dental is the only school of dentistry in The Centennial State, but its renown as among the best isn’t limited to state borders. Established more than 40 years ago, its DDS program has produced the best dentists known for their competence, compassion, and commitment.
- The first-year coursework establishes strong foundations in the basic sciences integrated with the fundamentals of dentistry. Students study the major body systems and their anatomy, physiology, and clinical correlations. Dental care courses are taught with basic science courses, a useful combo in the simulation lab courses.
- The second-year coursework continues the prior-year coursework but with more advanced knowledge, such as pre-clinical courses and clinical care classes. Students start seeing patients, too, in the fall term and take treatment planning and student practice management courses.
- The third-year coursework provides students with the opportunities to develop their clinical and professional skills in dentistry. The courses include dental practice planning and treatment planning, public health and community assessment, and implant dentistry. Students get more hands-on experiences in a wide range of clinical procedures, from dental pain and emergencies to operative dentistry.
- Fourth-year students take Part II of the National Board Dental Examination and continue developing their clinical skills in various settings.
- A completed AADSAS application, DAT scores, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an application fee are the application requirements. At least 50 hours of shadowing is a must for your application even to be reviewed.
Students also provide community services via The Advanced Clinical Training and Service (ACTS) program. This is an 8-month program conducted in underserved communities across Colorado. By the end of their final year, students are prepared to pass the dental licensure exams.
CU Boulder is the only AAU member in the Rocky Mountain Region, and it’s proof of its excellence as a research university. Its graduate programs are among the best in research in the country, and its roster of Nobel laureates is impressive.
University of Florida College of Dentistry
: 1395 Center Dr, Gainesville, Florida
The UF College of Dentistry, the only public school of dentistry in The Sunshine State, is part of the J. Hillis Miller Health Science Center. The DMD program is a small family of about 130 faculty members, 365 students, and 148 residents, fellows, and interns (2019).
- The Year One curriculum is characterized by its focus on the basic life and medical sciences that become the foundation for dentistry. Note that UF treats dentistry as a specialized branch of medicine and, thus, dentistry students get a medical education during their first year. The courses covered include gross anatomy, developmental biology, biochemistry, and molecular and cellular biology.
- The Year Two coursework covers general pathology and host defense, among other more advanced topics. Students are also introduced to evidence-based dentistry and other fundamentals that prepare them for clinical training.
- The Year Three students continue with their advanced didactic courses and clinical training. Courses include professional practice management and patient care, orthodontics in general practice, and interdisciplinary service-learning. Many of the courses are a continuation of Year Two coursework.
- The Year Four coursework covers topics on advanced differential diagnostics and periodontics, among other specialties. Students are well-prepared to pass the national and regional licensure exams at the end of their final year, too.
- Residents of Florida are given preference in admission, but out-of-state applicants are also considered, albeit they are a minority (i.e., about 10% only)
The Gator Dentist Advantage comes in many forms, from UF being among the country’s best universities to diverse student experiences. Students develop their dentistry skills in and out of the classroom and outside of the university’s gates through community service. The UF Statewide Network for Community Oral Health program enables students to perform their clinical rotations in and out of the country.
UF has two mascots – Albert and Alberta! But UF isn’t just about sports and fun either, and its land, sea, and space grants are proof of it.
University of Maryland School of Dentistry
: 650 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland
The UMD School of Dentistry, the only one in The Old Line State, is considered the DDS degree’s birthplace. Through its 181-year-old history, it has become a center for excellence in dentistry education, with many of its alumni leading the charge in innovation.
The DDS program is characterized by outstanding didactic instruction and clinical education in a conducive learning environment.
- Students have on-campus and online learning opportunities that emphasize student and patient experience and use effective educational methodologies.
- UMD has several cooperative efforts with government agencies that enable students to address the oral health needs of special-needs cohorts. Community service not only develops technical competencies but also encourages commitment to community health and service.
- The curriculum integrates several sciences, from biomedical and behavioral sciences to the clinical sciences, to gain a well-rounded education. Graduates are ready for general dentistry work in public and private settings, even becoming associates in clinics.
- First-year students get patient care experiences early on and develop their clinical skills throughout the program. Aside from the normal cohorts, students also deal with physical and mental challenges, emergency cases, and underlying medical conditions.
- Off-campus rotations are expected, and, thus, students must have access to means of transportation to fulfill the clinical requirements.
- While a bachelor’s degree is required, the minimum is 90 credit hours or three academic years with advanced standing. Prerequisite courses in various semester hours are general biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and physics with lab and English composition and biochemistry.
Students benefit from the Dentistry Today program by learning about dentistry, including its education, specialties, and career options. With UMD School of Dentistry being the largest oral health service provider in the state, students work in area hospitals, dental clinics, and community settings.
Look under one of the benches at the UMD chapel and find a journal where many people have expressed their thoughts on it. Perhaps UMD’s famous alumni, such as Jim Henson (The Muppets creator), Kevin Plank (Under Armour CEO), and Sergey Brin (Google co-founder), have written on it, too.
Boston University Henry M. Goldman – School of Dental Medicine
: 635 Albany Street, Boston, Massachusetts
BU’s Goldman School of Dental Medicine is among the young ones with a 1958 founding date. But it was only in 1996 when its name reflected both its increased scope and one of its leaders. Nowadays, it’s a nationally recognized program known for its excellence in education and research, as well as in quality patient care and community service.
- The 4-year DMD program has a traditional structure, but the state-of-the-art facilities, including modern classrooms and a teaching clinic, make it a standout. There’s also a 7-year BS/DMD program for students who want a seamless transition from a bachelor’s degree to a dentistry degree in a single setting.
- The program emphasizes preventive and restorative dentistry, so students work with licensed dentists and hygienists in several patient services. Students develop their clinical skills at BU’s Patient Treatment Centers.
- BU’s comprehensive clinical care model guides the teaching and learning aspects where service-learning provides students with early clinical exposure. Scientific knowledge is gained through rigorous coursework, pre-clinical simulations, and lab work.
- Chairside assisting assignments, which expose students to patient-centered activities, are followed by pre-clinical simulations and hands-on sessions in the laboratory. Completion of these experiences means students are eligible to perform a wide range of patient care and treatments.
- Completion of the program requirements is based on the successful completion of each course and its duration limitations.
- Demonstrated competencies after graduation include the professional ability to provide comprehensive, humanistic, and patient-centered dental healthcare services in a timely, efficient and logical manner.
Considered the first of its kind, the Applied Professional Experience (APEX) Program provides students with hands-on dental education through the integration of didactic coursework with dental internships. Clinical skills are gained alongside business and professional skills that strengthen their skill set for successful dentistry.
BU has had multiple name changes over the years, such as Newbury Biblical Institute and Boston Theological School, reflecting its religion-based roots. The BU Bridge is one of only three places worldwide where a plane can fly over a car running over a speeding train traveling over a boat.
University of Iowa College of Dentistry
: 801 Newton Rd., Iowa City, Iowa
The University of Iowa College of Dentistry has more than a few things going for it! Not only is it the only dental school in the Hawkeye State, but it’s also one of only two schools of dentistry in the country with all ADA dental specialty programs. No wonder it’s a consistently top-ranked program with alumni in leadership positions in dentistry and education.
- The first-year curriculum establishes the foundational knowledge in biomedical and clinical sciences, particularly in dental sciences. Students learn about the pathology of diseases and their differences from healthy systems through rigorous didactic coursework. Sessions in the advanced simulation clinic develop their clinical skills early on.
- The second-year students start to build their advanced knowledge base and skill set with more challenging courses and clinical experiences. Pre-clinical in pediatrics, endodontics, and orthodontics are introduced at this time, too.
- The third-year curriculum involves more immersive experiences through multidisciplinary clerkships throughout the year. There are seven disciplines, including operative dentistry, radiology and medicine, and oral and maxillofacial surgery. Diagnostic, treatment, and surgical skills are being applied during these clerkships, too.
- The fourth-year students must complete the 10-week rotations at off-campus settings like community health centers, nursing facilities, and hospitals. Students are expected to put their past three years of education and training as student-dentists, including working well with a team.
- Graduates are evaluated based on competency standards, including technical skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and passion for learning.
Equal access to education is guaranteed for every student, particularly for students with disabilities. The program makes reasonable accommodations through the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.
The Master of Fine Arts degree was first offered at UIowa! The university even runs the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop which has 17 Pulitzer Prize winners as alumni. UIowa is also the first co-educational public university in the United States and offered the first co-educational medical programs.
University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
: 515 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The UofM School of Dentistry is part of the nationally-recognized University Academic Health Center alongside its College of Pharmacy, Medical School, School of Public Health, and School of Nursing. Due to the Center’s organizational structure, dentistry students receive comprehensive education and research opportunities.
There’s also the fact that the School of Dentistry is the only one in Minnesota with accreditation to teach dentistry procedures. With its strategic location – it’s the only one between Seattle, Washington, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin – the DDS program attracts students from out of state, too.
- The curriculum can be divided into three major categories. The basic sciences include gross and microscopic human anatomy, pharmacology, microbiology, and oral histology. The behavioral sciences cover practice management, professional development, ethics, and dental public health. The dentistry courses cover a comprehensive range of operative dentistry, oral anatomy, periodontology, and dental practice management.
- The program features the 3M Foundation Dental Simulation Clinic, a state-of-the-art facility where students learn clinical skills in a realistic environment. Students develop their physical skills, such as manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination, and technical and soft skills. Every workstation has a life-like mannequin for practicing on, too.
- The first two years are spent on didactic courses on the basic and behavioral sciences. The third and fourth years involve extensive clinical training where real-world applications of didactic knowledge are made.
- Students have clinical rotations at outreach sites, including the Indian Health Service, hospitals, and the mobile dental van.
- Candidates must have at least 50 hours of shadowing, 87 semester credits, and meet prerequisites before being considered for admission.
The UofM School of Dentistry has made significant contributions to our understanding of oral cancer, periodontal disease prevention, and fluoride and decay prevention through research.
Students work with faculty members and research teams to further deepen their knowledge of dental health issues. The school also offers numerous clinical specialties.
UofM has underground tunnels and hallways known as the Gopher Way that can escape the cold during winter days! Sherlock Holmes fans will find the largest collection of materials on the fictional detectives at the university’s libraries.
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
: 1 Kneeland Street, Boston, Massachusetts
TUSDM started as the Boston Dental College in 1868 and, thus, it’s Boston’s second oldest dental school and among the oldest in the United States. Throughout its 153-year history, it has become the second-largest dental school in the country, too, with about 190 students in every class. But don’t be fooled by the fairly large classes, as the rigorous curriculum ensures that students stay on their toes, academically speaking.
- The acceptance rate to the DDS program is the lowest among dental schools across the country – just 2.1% in 2021! Candidates are evaluated based on rigorous standards covering academic performance and potential, commitment to completion and the profession, and DAT scores.
- The competency-based curriculum consists of three major components spread over four years. The didactic coursework includes lectures and seminars, while the clinical courses covered rotations, group practice, and community-based externships. The patient simulation component involves students in workshops, sessions in the patient simulation clinics, and an introduction to clinical experiences.
- Students become knowledgeable in a wide range of sciences and their interrelationships; skilled health advocates, communicators, compassionate dentists; and lifelong learners with the capacity to contribute to dentistry’s improvement.
- The competencies are categorized into diagnosis, treatment planning and treatment, emergency management, and practice management.
- Students start their patient-centric training during their second year, usually as part of a group and under the supervision of Practice Coordinators. There are also clinical rotations in the school’s specialty clinics and community health centers, the latter for a 5-week duration, where special needs and pediatric patients are also treated.
Students start their research exposures through the Introduction to Research course and work on their projects during their first and second years. The best projects are presented at national meetings, too. The school also offers international experiences through global health initiatives in South America, the Caribbean, and Africa.
The Naked Quad Run may have been banned in 2011, but students have started the Excessively Overdressed Quad Stroll! Instead of running naked through the snow, students wear absurd outfits and stroll around the quad.
The Ohio State University College of Dentistry
: 305 W. 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio
The OSU College of Dentistry offers a range of undergraduate, graduate, and specialty training programs considered among the country’s best. With nine academic divisions, it’s the country’s fourth-largest public school of dentistry, too. The DDS program is underlined by OSU’s pursuit of academic excellence and breakthrough research with a bit of fun.
- Only 120 students are admitted into the incoming class.
- The program lasts for 45 months and operates on a semester system.
- DAT, AADSAS, and supplementary applications are required. The invitation is mandatory for shortlisted candidates, but it’s by invitation only.
- Students have plenty of opportunities for learning experiences in clinical settings, thanks to more than 100 sites and active programs. There are three on-campus clinics, several off-site clinics, and service work sites. Quality patient interactions, mentorship from faculty members and licensed dentists, and peer-to-peer support are common.
- While the admission process is among the most selective, the program doesn’t encourage student competition! Students work as a team as they progress through the rigorous program and, thus, help each other complete it.
- Candidates must meet the minimum academic standards, including at least a 3.0 GPA; 17 DAT AA, 17 PAT scores, and 17 DAT total science scores; and 90 semester hours.
The College is a top recipient of the National Science Foundation and the NIH, with faculty members and students participating in basic and applied research. The research topics include gum disease, tooth decay, and oral pain.
The Buckeye Battle Cry is OSU’s fight song, and it’s more than 100 years old! Such is the Buckeye pride that a bell at the Ohio Stadium is rung for 15-30 minutes after every game victory, and the ringing can be heard for five miles.
University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry
: 925 West 34th Street, Los Angeles, California
USC’s Ostrow School of Dentistry has on-campus and online degrees in dentistry, including its highly acclaimed DDS program. The curriculum provides comprehensive training in line with up-to-date teaching methodologies and technologies. Students benefit from the learner-centered education but must successfully achieve the 25 competencies for completion.
- These competencies are divided into the following categories – General Professional Competency, Practice Management, Patient Care (Comprehensive Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning), Patient Care (Comprehensive Treatment), Patient Care (Medical and Dental Emergencies, Pain and Anxiety Control), and Patient Care (Communication).
- Students work with faculty members in providing free dental care to thousands of low-income families and individuals through local clinics, community projects, and the Mobile Dental Clinic program.
- First-year students also have pre-clinical courses and experiences and simulation sessions that aid in their seamless transition to direct patient care.
- Candidates must complete prerequisite coursework from an accredited institution; courses from accelerated science programs aren’t accepted. General biology physics and chemistry with lab and philosophy/fine arts/history and English composition, each for a year, are the prerequisite courses.
The learner-centered program equips students with the best possible technical and transferable skills that will result in their professional success. The competencies include effective communication skills, assessment, diagnosis and treatment, and teamwork with other health professionals. Students are also encouraged to contribute groundbreaking research in dental science.
Tommy Trojan isn’t the USC mascot! While Tommy is well-loved by the USC community, Traveller the Horse is the official mascot. George Lucas, Forest Whitaker, and Will Ferrell are among its alumni. USC is also proud of its overachieving sportsmen with the most Olympians – 423 as of the last count – of any university.
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry
: 1720 2nd Avenue, S Birmingham, Alabama
The UAB School of Dentistry offers a vibrant learning environment for its students along with its cutting-edge education and research programs. Founded in 1948, the school has seven academic departments with numerous educational programs, including the DMD program.
- The four-year program features early clinical activities, including supervised delivery of direct patient care. Students learn better with the integration of the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical sciences, too. The biomedical sciences take center stage when students learn the major organ systems and their relationships to oral health.
- Students prepare for independent dentistry practice starting from their first year and steadily progress to advanced knowledge and skills. Every student will be responsible for the patient’s total treatment, from assessment to follow-up care. The emphasis is on patient-centered competent, and compassionate care.
- The curriculum undergoes a regular review resulting in changes to the courses and their content. These changes are necessary to reflect the latest discoveries and innovations in dentistry. But the major themes remain largely unchanged, including ethics, special patient care, effective communication, and delivery skills.
- Applications will only be reviewed when minimum academic prerequisite requirements are met. At least 90 semester hours or three academic years must be completed and a varying number of hours for biology, chemistry, physics, math, and non-science courses. Shadowing hours and DAT scores are also required.
- Only about 84 candidates are accepted every year.
UAB pioneered four-handed dentistry, and it’s known to introduce many dentistry innovations every year through its research projects. Community projects provide students with the opportunity to make career decisions based on their varied interactions.
Such is the huge space that UAB students enjoy that it isn’t possible to tour the campus in a couple of days! The campus covers 100 city blocks, not to mention that there is more green space for every person than in any other city its size. Plus, there are over 4,400 trees on campus.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the typical educational path toward becoming a Dentist?
The typical post-bachelor’s degree requirement for dentists is the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) from a post-secondary institution accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). There are no significant differences between the DDS and DMD degrees, and both are acceptable for state licensure purposes.
Most DDS and DMD programs require dental student applicants to possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. While there are no specific degrees, applicants with a science-related degree may have an edge in admission. The more important academic aspect is completing at least one year of science courses, particularly chemistry, biology, and physics.
Applicants must also have satisfactory scores on the Dental Admission Test (DAT) for consideration in a DDS or DMD program. Academic records (minimum GPA), letters of recommendation, personal statements, and interview results are also considered for admission. Note that many programs have highly selective admissions so putting careful thought into the contents of the application packet is recommended.
Like medical school, the rigorous didactic coursework and clinical training in dental school will challenge every student. A full-time commitment is recommended, if not required, in dental programs. The coursework covers foundational science and anatomy and physiology, microbiology, anesthesia, physiology, and radiology for the oral cavity.
The clinical training is done in dental clinics and the like under the supervision of licensed dentists and their teams.
After earning the DDS or DMD degree, dental student graduates must seek licensure from the state where they work. While the specific requirements vary among states, the common requirements are passing the written National Board Dental Examinations and the state/regional clinical exam.
Note that dentists who want to pursue a specialization must also gain additional training and licensure in the said specialization.
Dentists must possess important qualities that enable them to deliver competent and compassionate patient care, including:
- Communication skills
- Compassion includes patience for special-needs patients and their families
- Attention to detail
- Manual dexterity and physical health
- Leadership skills
- Organizational skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Must be a team player
What are the typical duties of Dentists?
The specific duties of general dentists include but aren’t limited to:
- Get the patient’s medical history, perform a physical exam, and order lab tests, if necessary
- Plan, implement and evaluate a treatment plan based on the patient’s specific needs and condition
- Treat decay and cavities in teeth
- Repair or remove diseased or damaged teeth
- Perform teeth whitening procedures
- Install dental devices and appliances
- Prescribe antibiotics and other appropriate medications
- Teach patients and their families about proper oral health
Many dentists are also involved, either full-time or part-time, in education and research. Dentists with specializations, such as oral pathologists, pediatric dentistry, and periodontists, have specialized duties.
What’s the typical work environment for Dentists?
Through clinical training, you will get a feel for the work environment and what you can expect in your practice. Most dentists work in private dental offices, while the rest are self-employed professionals. Many also work in government agencies, offices of physicians, and outpatient care centers.
Dentists who own their businesses may work independently or with a small staff, while many will also have practices or associates.
The work schedule varies, but it’s common for dentists to work 40 hours a week, a regular schedule, although working in the evenings and weekends also happens.
Since dentists consult with a wide range of people and use tools, there are risks associated with their profession. The risk of infection, particularly in COVID-19, is relatively high, while injuries to the eyes and extremities are also possible. Dentists also experience psychological strain and stress, and radiation exposure.
Work environments may also depend on a dentist’s specialization. For example, a dentist who specializes in pediatric dentistry can expect a lively, loud, and sometimes slightly terrified clientele. In this field, it is safe to say you must love children!
What kind of dental specialties should I consider?
Besides becoming a general dentist, you may want to explore a dental specialty; therefore, allowing you to focus your attention on a specific type of dentistry you prefer. Here are some dental specialties to consider:
- Dental Surgery
- Pediatric Dentistry
- Maxillofacial Surgeon
What can I expect to learn in a Doctor of Dentistry degree program?
Dental schools offer various types of coursework to dental students. Here are some common courses to expect:
- Oral Health
- Oral Diseases
- Oral Pathology
- Disease Prevention
- Oral Sciences
- And, much more!
- To become a Dentist, you will need to earn a Doctor of Dentistry dental degree. Clinical training experience is also required.
- Dental schools provide the academics and clinical training needed to excel in the field of dentistry; however, proper dental accreditation is important.
- Dental students can expect to spend up to four years earning their dental degree… after earning their undergraduate education.
- Upon graduation, dental students must pass the National Board Dental Examination to practice.
- Dental specialists can concentrate on many types of dentistry, such as pediatric dentistry, dental surgery, maxillofacial surgeon, dental medicine, oral diseases and disease prevention, orthodontics, endodontics, and general dentistry.
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