Dental Schools Colleges & Universities

If you're a good communicator, a hard worker, and a student who's always had a knack for science, consider earning your degree in dentistry.

Dental Colleges Open Up Great Opportunities for Hardworking Students: How would you like to join a fast-growing segment of the health care industry, one that emphasizes sociability almost as much as it does expertise and accuracy? The field of dentistry is undergoing an expansion in order to service--in addition to its usual clients--a growing elderly population, and qualified candidates are in demand. If you have excellent manual dexterity, a knack for scientific thinking, and an amiability that puts people at ease, you may want to consider enrolling in a predentistry program at your university; or, if you already have your bachelor's degree, one of the country's 50-plus accredited dental schools.

Dental Schools Blend Practicum and Curriculum: The path towards becoming a dentist may be thought of as a three-step process. First, aspiring students must complete at least two years of undergraduate study, although the majority earn their bachelor's degree in a related field, such as predentistry or biology. Following that, students complete a four-year dental school program that has been accredited by the American Dental Association. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that admission to these institutions is very selective, so make the most of your general education. Degrees in dentistry--either DDS or DMD--are then succeeded by practical and written exams, the successful completion of which earns you a license to practice in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. In addition to internships that provide hands-on experience in a clinical setting, the curriculum at dental colleges includes classes in:

  • • Anatomy
  • • Microbiology
  • • Biochemistry
  • • Clinical sciences
  • • Laboratory techniques
  • • Calculus

Great Things Await Those with Degrees in Dentistry: The BLS predicts faster than average job growth for dentists during the 2008-2018 decade, an increase fueled mostly by both the large number of current practitioners expected to retire as well as the swelling elderly population. About 75% of dentists work in solo practices.

Most dentists are general practitioners, but others work in one of nine specialties: orthodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, pediatric dentists, peridontists, prosthodontists, endodontists, oral pathologists, oral and maxillofacial radiologists, and dental public health specialists. Naturally, earnings vary by specialty.

According to data published by the BLS in May of 2009, general dental practitioners earn a mean annual wage of $156,850. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons make $210,710; orthodontists, $206,190; and prosthodontists, $125,400. All other dental specialists make a mean annual wage of $153,570. Those working outside of private practices are most often employed in hospitals and by the federal government.

The numbers speak for themselves. Dentistry is a field that not only promises enviable salaries, but also fantastic employment opportunities in the coming years. Take advantage of this growth phase now, and start preparing for one of the great dental colleges near you. With this formal training under your belt, you can parlay your communication skills and knack for science into a rewarding career.

The writer Karin Hansen holds a degree in English from San Francisco State University

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