Dentists are known for having good manual dexterity and coordination as well as extensive medical knowledge regarding dental health, anatomy, and procedures.
In order to become a dentist, most college students are first required to obtain a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree. Some exceptions are made, depending on the dental school, but there are a series of prerequisites that will be required as an undergraduate in order to apply for a dental program. Many of these classes include generals but also include common medical related prerequisites such as chemistry and biology.
After those prerequisites are achieved, the student will need to take the Dental Admission Test, also known as the DAT. Dental schools that are applied to will consider your score on the DAT, letters of recommendation, grade point average (GPA), and interviews.
Most dental schools are 4 year programs. The first two years generally focus on classroom and labs and the last two generally deal more in a clinical setting where students treat actual patients under the supervision of instructors.
When the dental student graduates, he will receive a degree as a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). The American Dental Association explains that they are essentially the same degree.
In order for a dental graduate to practice, he must obtain a license in the state(s) that the student intends to practice. Every state has their own requirements, but each state requires the graduate to pass a National Board Dental Examination. Some states require CPR classes and/or background checks as well.
Continuing education is necessary in order to maintain licensing.
Dentists seeking to specialize as a periodontist, orthodontist, oral surgeon, pediatric dentist, endodontist, or other dental specialties will need to seek post graduate training/school.