Pre-Health Professions

Pre-Dental Preparation

Dentists diagnose and treat patients for health problems in the teeth, gums, and other areas of the mouth. They also provide instruction on oral health, remove tooth decay, fill cavities, prescribe medications, and repair teeth. Dentists use a variety of equipment and procedures including x-rays, drills, and lasers.

Dentists are general practitioners or may practice as a specialist in areas, such oral and maxillofacial surgery, or as orthodontists or periodontists.

How to Apply

Dentists can either obtain a doctorate of dental medicine (DMD) or a doctorate of dental surgery (DDS) and must be licensed in order to practice. Dental schools are highly competitive. Dental school usually takes four years to complete and although not required, most students complete a one-year residency. Dentists who specialize go on to further training in the form of a two-to-four-year residency.

Course Requirements

Although you can select any undergraduate major, most dental schools require pre-requisite classes in order to apply. The required courses can be different depending on the school you wish to apply to. You must research specific admissions requirements for each school you apply to. 

Check out admissions requirements for specific dental schools here, but also be sure to check directly with individual schools.

This is a guide of recommended courses that students could take to prepare for dental school. This is not an exhaustive list. You are responsible to check with the schools you wish to apply for specific requirements. Students should also check with individual schools if they intend to use AP or community college credits to see if those are accepted.

Entrance Exam

Most dental schools require the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) as the entrance exam. DAT scores range from 1-30; a competitive score is 19 or higher. It is recommended students spend at least 200-250 hours studying over the course of a couple months. The DAT is a computer-based test offered year-round. Registration is required.

Additional Requirements

Dental Schools highly consider your cumulative GPA as well as your prerequisite science GPA. Although most dental schools recommend at least a 3.0 GPA, the average GPA of accepted students is a 3.5 or more.

Apart from your pre-requisites and DAT Score, most dental schools require letters of recommendation, a written personal statement or essay, and if selected, an in-person interview. Most Dental schools highly encourage applicants to have shadowing experience. Here is some more information on Preparing for Dental School.

Application Service

The professional Association for Dental School is ADEA (American Dental Education Association).

Most dental schools go through a centralized application called the AADSAS (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service). This application opens in June with the latest deadlines in February.