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Dentistry programs prepare people to work as dentists.

Dentistry programs teach people all the aspects of dental medicine. Students learn how to both prevent and treat oral disease and decay. They learn to manage pain and use oral medicines. In addition, students learn how to run a clinic and counsel patients.

Dentistry programs include topics such as:


Many universities or accredited dental schools offer graduate degrees in dentistry. Students can earn either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. Both degrees indicate the same amount of training, but different schools choose to grant one of these degree titles over the other.

A dental doctoral degree usually requires about four years of full-time study beyond a bachelor’s degree.

See schools that offer this program.

Graduate Admissions

Admission to dental schools is competitive. You typically need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good scores on the Dental Admission Test (DAT). You also need letters of recommendation and a personal interview.

Many schools require that some of your letters of recommendation be written by someone on your college's pre-health professions committee and at least one college science professor.

You will also need to take the following courses as an undergraduate:

Course prerequisites vary from program to program. You may also be required to take biochemistry and psychology courses as well.

Typical Course Work

Graduate Program Courses

Course work in dental school is usually divided into two parts: the basic clinical sciences and the clinical rotations. You typically complete the clinical sciences course work during the first two years of dental school, in both the classroom and the lab. These courses usually include some combination of the following:

You participate in clinical rotations in the third and fourth years of dental school. These are hands-on opportunities to learn how to apply the information you acquired in the first two years of the program to real-life clinical settings. An experienced dentist supervises you.

The length of each rotation varies from program to program, but you might get chairside experience in areas such as the following:

Things to Know

Graduating from an accredited dental school qualifies you to enroll in postgraduate programs called residencies for additional training in a dental specialty such as orthodontics or oral surgery. Residencies give you paid on-the-job training where you get more in-depth exposure and experience working in a dental specialty.

You need a license in order to practice. Licensure requirements vary from state to state. After graduation, you are eligible to take the National Dental Board Exams. Passing these exams meets the written exam requirement of many states' licensure processes.


King-Snohomish Area

University of Washington - Seattle