Dentistry is a great job to get into if you have the passion for it. Helping others to achieve the smile they’ve always wanted, ensuring their teeth are kept in tip-top condition, and occasionally fixing a few busted teeth along the way… It’s all a very rewarding job but to get there, to call yourself a dentist, you really do need to put in the hard work.
In the United States of America, it takes a long time to become a dentist. You need to first complete eight years of full education after you’ve graduated from high school. Half of that will be doing some called undergraduate studying, and after that, you’ll complete your training by spending the final four years in dental school. Split that down into two once more, two years spent learning in a classroom based environment, and two years spent learning in a clinical environment, and it is only then, once you’ve completed all of that training, that you can call yourself a dentist.
To start with, you’ll get your Bachelors Degree in one of the natural sciences. After that you can sit a test called DAT, or Dental Admission Test, but that will be after four years.
Your Dental Degree is determined by the score you achieve in your DAT and your learning here could last for three or four years. This will depend on the school you’re attending, the kind of dentistry you’re looking at and more.
The course is generally broken down into sections, focusing on specific areas such as oral health, the anatomy and physiology of the mouth, pathology and histology, and then continuing, depending on your specialist field of choice.
Failing that, you could then look at Accelerated Dental Programs which are generally much longer, around seven years in length, but cover the full program in one, starting with the physical and natural sciences and going on to the histology, etc.
Even when you have completed the appropriate course of dentistry education, and spent your time between classroom and clinical based learning, you still can’t call yourself a dentist because you need to completely a two-part exam.
The first part is marked by American Dental Association’s Joint Commission for National Dental Examinations, and is the written part of the exam. The practical part of the exam would be held by your agency.
Many people want to specialize in a specific field when they go into dentistry (orthodontics, etc.) and in order to do this, you would need to look at postdoctoral training which again, could last anywhere from two to four years depending on the field. Once you had completed that training, you could then call yourself a specialist in that field of dentistry.