Overview of Dentistry
Jump to a topic:
- Professional responsibilities and specialties
- Professional education
- Required coursework
- College major
- Diagnose and treat problems with teeth and tissues in the mouth
- Give advice and administer care to help prevent future problems
- Provide instruction on diet, brushing, flossing, the use of fluorides, and other aspects of dental care.
- Remove tooth decay, fill cavities, examine x rays, place protective plastic sealants on children's teeth, straighten teeth, and repair fractured teeth.
- Perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum diseases.
- Extract teeth and make models and measurements for dentures to replace missing teeth.
- Administer anesthetics and write prescriptions for antibiotics and other medications
- Can also teach, conduct research, and work in public and international health
Most dentists tend to be general practitioners, handling a variety of dental needs. But dentists can also practice in nine specialty areas (requiring additional training and licensing)
- Orthodontists straighten teeth by applying pressure to the teeth with braces or retainers.
- Oral and maxillofacial surgeons operate on the mouth and jaws
- Pediatric dentists focus on dentistry for children
- Periodontists treat gums and bone supporting the teeth
- Prosthodontists replace missing teeth with permanent fixtures, such as crowns and bridges, or with removable fixtures such as dentures
- Endodontists perform root canal therapy
- Public health dentists promote good dental health and preventing dental diseases within the community
- Oral pathologists study oral diseases
- Oral and maxillofacial radiologists diagnose diseases in the head and neck through the use of imaging technologies
- Degree Offered: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)
- Years of Study: 4 years for General Dentistry; additional training/licensing for the above nine specialty areas
The following are courses mentioned frequently as being required and/or recommended:
- 1 year inorganic chemistry with lab
- 1 year biology with lab
- 1 year organic chemistry with lab
- 1 year physics with lab
- 1 year English (including public speaking and composition)
- 1-2 courses in calculus
Additional courses most frequently required or recommended: biochemistry, genetics, physiology, anatomy, microbiology, economics, statistics
Refer to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) "Official Guide to Dental Schools" for the specific admission requirements for all U.S. and Canadian dental schools. A copy of the guide is also available at the University Academic Advising Center, room 34.
Dental students come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds and majors; therefore, choose a major based on your interests and aptitudes. The most common major for predental students is biology, as the dental course prerequisites are similar to the standard biology curriculum, but here at NU students can major in almost any area and still be able to fit in the dental course requirements.