A Dentist’s Education

Becoming a Dentist

The level of education and clinical training required to earn a dental degree, and the high academic standards of dental schools, are on par with those of medical schools and are essential to preparing dentists for the safe and effective practice of modern oral health care.

 

You may notice that while most dentists are listed with a “DDS”, some may be listed as “DMD”. They both mean the same thing—the dentist graduated from an accredited dental school. The DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine) are the same degrees. Dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education. It’s up to the universities to determine what degree is awarded, but both degrees use the same curriculum requirements.

Professior helping a dental student
Dentist working on an implant

Dental Specialties

After earning their undergraduate and dental degrees (eight years for most) many dentists continue their education and training. Some go on to achieve certification in dental specialties including: dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics.

Continuing Education

Upon completing their training, dentists must pass both a rigorous national written examination and a state or regional clinical licensing exam in order to practice. As a condition of licensure, they must meet continuing education requirements for the remainder of their careers, to keep them up-to-date on the latest scientific and clinical developments.

Dentist in a classroom taking notes
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