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So You Want to Go to Dental School

So the movie Dr. Giggles didn't scare you and your tooth-cleanings as a kid actually made you want to go back for more. Choosing to go to dental school means opening yourself to one of the most rewarding career paths in medicine. Not only will you have the opportunity of working in every state, you'll also have the option of practicing overseas, starting a private practice or working along with other dentists in a group practice. However, before your dreams can come true you'll have to successfully enroll in and complete dental school. In this article, we'll tell you how to become a dentist, including what exams you'll have to pass, how much tuition costs and where the best schools are.  

Dental School Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for dental school are pretty simple. Although there is no one set of requirements that fit every school, the basic ones are the same. You'll need your school transcripts and a GPA of at least 3.4 or 3.8 to even be considered. Once you've met those requirements you'll have to take the DAT exam.  


The DAT, or Dental Admissions Test, measures your comprehension of science, perception and general academic knowledge. If you meet the minimum academic pre-requisites for dental school, you'll most likely have the tools you need to pass this exam. The American Dental Association lists these prerequisites as 8 hours of: biology with lab, physics, English, general chemistry with lab and organic chemistry with lab. Still it is very important to prepare and study for the exam. Taking a few practice tests will also make you feel more comfortable when you sit down for the official DAT. After taking the DAT exam, collect that score, proof of the completion of any required pre-requisites, your school transcripts and appropriate fees for enrollment, and submit them along with the application. Also, don't forget to submit any recommendation letters and academic certificates along with the application. After submitting applications to dental school, you will hopefully be interviewed by the dental school board. This is a professional interview so no matter what your grades are or how many letters of recommendation you may have, they are looking at your appearance and the way you conduct yourself throughout the interview. Dress professionally, come prepared and answer all questions fully, and remember: No matter what the question is and how much you may not want to answer it, do not lie, under any circumstances!  

Tuition Fees and Other Costs

Tuition fees for dentistry schools differ widely depending on  the location of the school, the school's specialty, and what course you're enrolling in. On average, dental school tuition plus fees will run somewhere between $50k and $95k. The most expensive school to date is the University of Southern California School of Dentistry (USC Dental), with a tuition of $95,467. Schools that specialize in dentistry are often more expensive than those that don't. This is because graduates from schools that specialize in dentistry are often more sought after, so they're paid higher (in some cases, not all).  

Career Outlook

So. what will you expect after graduating (besides plans to buy that Mercedes once your fees and student loans are cleared up)? Job security! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dentists with an entry-level Doctoral or other professional degree bring in a median pay of around $146,920 per year and job positions are growing at a rate of 21% over the next 7 years. How much you make has a lot to do with where you choose to practice. Some states have more dentists than necessary so the pay isn't as competitive, other states have fewer than needed, so the extra dentists are usually welcomed with higher pay. Also, those who work in a private practice often enjoy a more balanced lifestyle with good pay in comparison to those working as OC dental surgeons for a medical facility.  Whichever way you chose to go, the sky is the limit, so long as you meet the minimum requirements to get started. Now that you know the drill (pun intended), what are you waiting for? Get your study on soon, positions are filling up quickly.