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Preparing for a Career in Dentistry

Dentists diagnose and treat conditions affecting the teeth, tongue, gums, lips and jaws. Since many conditions (including cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases) have symptoms that first appear in the teeth and gums, dentists are often the first health care providers to recognize an illness. Dentistry is a rapidly changing field, with many subspecialties. Advances are being made in diagnosis and treatment of dental disease, as well as new preventative and cosmetic procedures. Dentists work in a variety of settings, including private practice, hospitals, and research institutions. For more information on careers in dentistry, please see the American Dental Association (ADA) Education and Careers webpage.

Typical Prerequisites (see individual dental school requirements for specific information):

  • Biology with laboratory 1 year
  • General chemistry with laboratory 1 year
  • Organic chemistry with laboratory 1 year
  • Physics with laboratory 1 year
  • English 1-1.5 years
  • Completion of the Dental Admission Test (DAT) the year before applying:
  • Application through a centralized application service, ADEA AADSAS

There are currently more than 50 schools of dentistry in the United States; they award either DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery), which are essentially equivalent in their educational requirements. For a complete listing see:

Additional helpful information may be found on the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) website: