Dentists diagnose and treat problems with a patient’s teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.

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Profession overview

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Is dentistry a possible career for you?

Do you have the following qualities? If so, dentistry might be a good fit for you!

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional education

Degree Offered

Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)

Years of Study

Four years for General Dentistry; additional training/licensing for nine specialty areas

Licensure Required

All states require dentists to be licensed; requirements vary by state. Most states require a dentist to have a degree from an accredited dental school and to pass a written and practical exam. In addition, a dentist who wants to practice in one of the nine specialties must have a license in that specialty. This usually requires 2 to 4 years of additional education after dental school and, in some cases, the completion of a special state exam. A postgraduate residency term also may be required, usually lasting up to 2 years. Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Choosing a dental school

Choose a dental degree program carefully based upon factors that are important to your own learning needs. Consider program content, geographic location, faculty; facilities, experiential training opportunities, class size, student demographics, extracurricular opportunities, and cost.

For state-supported public institutions, legal residence may have a significant impact on admissions decisions. Private institutions may offer out-of-state and foreign applicants a greater number of positions as compared to state-supported, public institutions.