Have you always had a passion for teeth and helping others? If so, becoming a dentist is something you may have considered. But there are questions that come along with this idea, like how many years does it take to become a dentist?
Before answering that, it’s important to do a little soul searching. Becoming a Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) takes a lot of work, determination, and money. Yet, it also can be very rewarding.
If you’re sure that’s the path you want to take, then it’s time to start planning, because becoming a dentist requires a strict college curriculum, dental school, and passing a licensing examination.
How many years of college to be a dentist?
According to Purdue University, prospective oral providers are looking at a four-year bachelor’s degree program plus an additional four years of dental school. Most programs don’t require a specific major for undergraduate studies, but there are a variety of courses that are mandatory before moving on to dental school, including: biology, chemistry, physiology, anatomy, physics, psychology, and more.
Some schools even offer pre-dental programs that put you on track for heading off to dental school.
What happens after you complete your bachelor’s degree?
Once you’ve completed your undergraduate studies, the next step in becoming a dentist involves taking the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), which is designed to evaluate your education and understanding and assess your fit for dental school.
The DAT will be important when you apply to one of the 66 dental school programs in the United States and Puerto Rico. While each school will have different admission requirements, most will consider your DAT results as well as your Grade Point Average (GPA).
The American Dental Association recommends applying for dental school a year in advance of your start date, as the process can be rigorous and you need to find a good fit. Applications can be submitted through the American Dental Education Association’s American Dental Schools Application Service, which allows you to fill out one application for multiple schools.
Once accepted, you’ll attend dental school and learn and grown, just like a tooth. Then you will be required to get your dental license from your state board in order to start practicing dentistry!
So how many years does it take to become a dentist? The answer is really up to you and the pace of the path that you choose, but you’re looking at roughly 8 years to start.