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A future in Pre-Dentistry
By Jennifer Bailey
A degree in pre-dentistry will prepare you for the Dental Admission Test (DAT) that you must pass in order to apply to and be accepted into a dental school. Keep in mind that it is not a requirement to have a pre-dentistry bachelor’s degree in order to get into dental school; however, it will help prepare you specifically for the DAT and is a great launching degree. You could also major in biology, chemistry or physics to name a few and apply to a dental school.
In order to be successful in this major and the long-term commitment of dental school, you will need to be confident, steady with your hands, very focused and have the ability to study hard, retain a lot of detailed and scientific information, and be a well-rounded person, who is good with people and managing a business.
In addition to the general college classes such as English, history, art, sociology, psychology and performing arts most college students take toward a four-year degree, you will take courses heavy in the sciences, including biology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, statistics, anatomy, biochemistry, hematology, clinical microscopy and body fluids, serology, medical terminology, clinical correlations, instrument analysis and more. Since three out of four dentists own their own practices, business management will play a key role in one’s success as a dentist, and it would benefit students to take a few elective college courses in business management and leadership.
Grades will be important and passing all of your undergraduate classes with high marks will make all the difference in being accepted to dental school. In addition to grades, it will be paramount for you to be involved in extracurricular activities, including volunteering in a dental field. Find ways to be involved in your college experience and get to know your professors well as you will likely need them as a reference for dental school. The bottom line is, those who get great grades, are actively involved in their education and school as a whole, who have studied well and passed the DAT and who interview well to the dental school of choice, are the ones most likely accepted into dental school and eventually fulfilling their dream of becoming a dentist.
Once your schools review your primary application, they may invite you to complete a "secondary application," which usually includes additional essays and fees. Ideally, you will complete your secondary application within a couple weeks of receiving the invitation. Once you graduate from dental school, you must pass the National Board Dental Examination. Of course, if you choose to provide more specialized dental services, it will require additional schooling and licensing.
There are other areas besides general dentistry that may be of interest to you that a pre-dentistry degree could pave the way for. These would include Cosmetic Dentistry, Oral Surgeon, Periodontist, Orthodontist, Dental Lab Technician, Dental Assistant, Dental Office Manager, Dental Receptionist or Dental Appointment Scheduler.