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Articles on Pre-Dentistry:
Article by Rachelle Wiggins
“During your day [as a dentist] you do good for a lot of people… You change lives in many, many ways—most of which you will never know.” ~Dr. Ted Thibodeau, DDS
Dentistry is one-part science, one-part technology, one-part artistry. It is a career that preserves well-being and restores what is decayed and broken through natural decline. Studies continue to link good oral health to good health overall. This knowledge, coupled with the reality of an aging population, continues to drive up the need for dentistry. In fact, the current growth rate for the profession is at a projected 19%, well above the average growth rate (about 7%) for other occupations. This year, U.S. News and World Report ranked dentistry as the #1 best healthcare career, and the #2 best career in general, based on employment rate, job growth in the future, stress-level, median salary and work-home balance. Though pre-dentistry is a challenging college major to be sure, its end result is a rewarding career that helps people achieve beautiful, healthy smiles.
So, what are some of the traits and skills necessary to succeed at this rigorous major in any of the Christian dental schools? For starters, it is important to excel in the sciences, to be attentive to detail and to possess strong analytical skills. Secondly, because of the diverse population you will ultimately work with, good people skills are certainly an asset. In addition, dentistry as a profession requires a surprising amount of physical strength, stamina and dexterity. Sometimes people also overlook the fact that a dentist is often called upon to run a small business which requires the management skills necessary to supervise a staff, administer an office and handle time and money wisely. Finally, dentistry, with its ever-evolving technological advances, requires a commitment to on-going learning so as to keep up with the latest research and methodology.
Obtaining a pre-dentistry degree is not necessary in order to be admitted into a Christian dental school (some students have chemistry, biology or other degrees instead), but it does help to lay a strong foundation for the on-going educational requirements necessary to practice dentistry. Programs differ from school to school, so it is important to look carefully at various prerequisites, but typically dental students train for a total of eight years, including two years of residency to hone your clinical skills. As a pre-dentistry major you will take core classes in the humanities and math up through calculous. In addition, some of the classes you can expect to take include:
For those with exceptional drive and perseverance, the field of dentistry branches out into all kinds of specializations including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, periodontics and oral surgery. These areas require additional training and degrees. On the other hand, there are also solid related healthcare careers that require only a bachelor’s degree or less. Some to consider are:
If your aptitudes line up with those listed in this article and you have a desire to participate in a helping career that is challenging and rewarding, then perhaps a pre-dentistry major at Christian colleges is the next right step for you!
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working unto the Lord, not men.” Colossians 3:23
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.