SmallSmilesUSA.Com, How Long Is Dental School: An Overall Fact about the Process – The first thing that you need to consider when you are thinking about becoming a dentist is about how long is dental school. Medical school generally requires quite a long time to complete and it’s no different from being a dentist. After all, being a dentist has its own responsibility and duty so you can’t really underestimate the job. There are a lot of important nerves inside the mouth. If you make mistakes, you may damage or hurt the nerves – and it may affect the overall health system of the patient. You don’t want that happening to you, right?
The Responsibility of a Dentist
The job of a dentist is to care for the patients’ oral health. Don’t be mistaken; there are a lot of aspects to include in the oral health. Naturally, there are a lot of things to do when you become a dentist. The length of time about how long is dental school is going along with the medical responsibility. You will be responsible for teeth cleaning or curing the gum pain. You are responsible for covering the area of neck, jaw, gums, teeth, nerves (especially in the neck and head), and salivary glands. A dentist has a lot of things to do, including performing surgeries for teeth removal or repair, filling cavities in the teeth, installing dental appliances, such as dentures or implants. You should also be familiar with traditional implants as well as all on four dental implants – as well as other available techniques. Applying anesthetics, writing prescription, taking X-rays, or managing a regular dental care are parts of your job as a dentist. Of course, you can choose whether you want to stick with the general dentistry or move higher to specialty, like public health, pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, or oral surgery.
How to Become a Dentist
If you are wondering how long is dental school, it is likely that you will need 8 years to undergo the entire process. But in some cases, some dental schools and undergraduate programs are offering the so-called combined degree programs which mean that you can complete the process faster. So, the basic steps of becoming a professional dentist are:
- Get a bachelor degree. It takes four years to undergo the undergraduate programs. But most schools accept students who have completed the pre-dental program, which takes 3 years to complete.
- Take the DAT (Dental Admission Test). When in college, in junior year, you should take the exam, arranged by ADA (American Dental Association).
- Get the degree, whether it is DDS or DDM. Both degrees are legit as they are basically the same – only different in names. The state license boards recognize both of the names and you generally need four years to complete the education. In some institutions, you may find dual degree programs where you can get the DDM or DDS degree along with other higher degrees, like Ph.D or MBA. It depends on the types of program you take, but in general, the dual programs offer shorter educational time with more efficient management than having two different degrees differently.
- Pass the state licensing and national examination. You need to pass the NBDE (National Board Dental Examination) test which will test your basic science. Depending on the state where you live, you may need additional examinations. Find out more about it.
The Required Training
You need to complete graduate school, especially the program of DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DDM (Doctor of Dental Medicine). Both of them have no difference in programs since they are providing preparation knowledge and education for those wanting to become a dentist. If you apply to the dental schools, it is likely that you need to have high grades within the prerequisite courses, such as physics, chemistry, biology, and also biochemistry. It is crucial that you should also get high scores for the Dental Admission test. You should focus on these matters first before you can focus on the question ‘How long is dental school?’
During the DDM or DDS studies, you will be studying subjects of radiology physiology, dental anatomy, molecular biology, pharmacology, dental anesthesiology, oral microbiology, and radiology. What about dental practice subjects, such as endodontics, periodontics, pediatric dentistry, geriatric, oral surgery, and prosthodontics. You can also learn about the proper management of working with different patients. In most cases, you will have to complete clinical rotations and clerkships allowing you to observe the real dentist as well as working with real patients. So it isn’t only about theory but also actual learning and practice. The question how long is dental school and how your study gets going are part of the learning so it is nice to know that you won’t be spending 8 years only learning theories.
The Process Afterwards
Just because you have completed your study, it doesn’t mean that you will directly become a dentist. Within the question how long is dental school, you will have to get the degree from DDM or DDS program, with American Dental Association on Dental Accreditation. You also need to pass the clinical and written exams. The written exams consist of part 1 and 2, but the clinical exam is different, depending on each state.
When you want to be a professional dentist, you need to start somewhere – and it usually starts from associateship. You will work with an established and professional (not to mention also experienced) dentists owning their own practice. Now it is no longer about how long is dental school but about your career prospect and how you can go through with the process. You can find associate work through career boards, dental schools, professional contacts, or even dental network. If you are able to go through with it, you can face anything in your future career life.
Having a career in medical world takes a pretty long time to go but it is going to worth it, somehow and someday. Now that you already know the answer to the question how long is dental school, will you still be willing to go through with it?