What does a dentist do?
- Evaluates the overall health of
their patients while advising them about oral health and disease
- Performs clinical procedures,
such as exams, fillings, crowns, implants, extractions and corrective surgeries.
- Identifies, diagnoses and
treats oral conditions.
- Performs general dentistry or
practices in one of nine dental specialties.
What is the difference between a D.D.S. and a D.M.D.?
The simple answer is nothing. Both D.D.S. and D.M.D. mean the same
thing—the dentist graduated from an accredited dental school. The D.D.S.
(Doctor of Dental Surgery) and D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine) are the same
degrees. D.D.S. and D.M.D. dentists both receive the same education and both
degrees use the same curriculum requirements set by the American Dental
Association (ADA). It’s up to each individual university to determine which degree
How much does a dentist earn?
Though incomes vary across the United States and depend on the type of
practice, the ADA Health Policy Institute reports in its most recent
survey (2015 Survey of Dental Practitioners) that the 2014 average net income for an
independent private general practitioner who owned all or part of his or her
practice was $183,340. For dental specialists, it was $344,740.
What are the dental specialties?
There are nine recognized dental specialty options: Dental Public Health,
Endondontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology,
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Periodontics,
Pediatric Dentistry, and Prosthodontics. Learn more about each specialty in
our Career options section.
What is the best major for dental school?
Many students interested in going to dental school are under the
impression that they have to major in biology or some branch of science to be
accepted to dental school. This is an incorrect assumption. A specific
undergraduate major is not required for acceptance to dental school; however, a
good foundation in the sciences is required.
Applicants with a well-rounded education, a variety of interests and
personal experiences are ideal candidates and are encouraged to choose a major
where they can demonstrate strong academic performance while focusing on
developing a strong background in the sciences. Many programs also encourage
students to take courses in social sciences and many dental schools have
accepted students with majors in music, art history, engineering, math,
humanities and sports administration, to name a few. Learn more in our Preparing
for dental school section.
What are the major factors in dental school admissions?
Dental schools consider many factors when deciding which applicants to
accept into their programs. Many schools use a holistic review, which includes
biographical and demographic information along with GPAs, test (DAT) scores and
community service, to name a few.
We all hear about the importance of good grades and test scores, but
most successful candidates for admission not only demonstrate academic
potential, but also show through their actions and experiences that they are
motivated, compassionate and have the potential to be caring, ethical health
care providers. Learn more in our Application process section.
Why can’t I find a ranked list of dental schools?
There is no official listing or ranking of dental schools. There are
privately owned, non-ADEA or non-ADA sanctioned publications that allegedly
rank dental schools according to the quality of their programs. Both ADEA and
the ADA advise dental school applicants to view these rankings with caution.
The bases for these rankings are questionable and those individuals who are most
knowledgeable about dental education affirm the difficulty of establishing
criteria for dental school rankings. ADEA and ADA recommend that applicants
investigate on their own the relative merits of the dental schools they wish to
What’s the minimum GPA I should have to apply to dental school?
The weight a dental school applicant’s GPA carries varies among dental
schools and can, among other factors, be based on an individual school’s
criteria and personal evaluation. While a certain GPA might be considered
“strong” at one school, that same GPA could be considered “less strong” at
another school. ADEA encourages predental and prehygiene students to contact
schools directly regarding specific GPA criteria and discuss this with their
prehealth advisors. It’s also important to remember that separate GPAs are
recorded for your undergraduate coursework and your graduate coursework.