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When your child is in high school or early college, they are likely exploring professional interests and career opportunities. If they have expressed an interest in dentistry, you may be feeling excited by their desire to enter the medical field. Or you may be a bit apprehensive, wondering exactly what it takes to become a dentist. In this post, your pediatric dentist outlines the major steps involved in pursuing a dental career. 

Dr. Matt and Dr. Craven can heartily recommend dentistry as a vocation! We love our jobs, and we love our patients at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS. Whether your child pursues general dentistry, or they become a specialist like a pediatric dentist, they have a fantastic opportunity to make a difference in their patients’ lives. 

If you want to learn more about a career in dentistry, or you simply need to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist, contact our office today.

Undergraduate Education 

To become a dentist, your teen will first need to earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. A degree in biology or another science can be helpful, but it is not essential. However, dental schools do require a certain number of science credits. If your child does not earn a degree in the sciences, they may need to take some additional classes before applying to graduate school.

A few colleges offer a pre-dentistry track. Pre-med tracks are much more common and can give your child an extra edge in dental school acceptance. If your child is still in high school, encourage them to take AP science. AP classes may allow them to opt out of basic science and jump into higher-level college courses.

Graduate School 

Before applying to dental school, an applicant must first take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). The DAT is a 4.5 hour test that includes 180 questions. Dental schools have individual admission score requirements, so it’s important to check the schools in which your child is interested. 

Once accepted, a dental student will typically earn a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree in four years. The two degrees are essentially the same and differ only in name. The first two years of dental school are spent in the classroom, and the second two years consist mostly of clinical work. 

Areas of Specialization 

After earning their degree, if dentists wish to pursue a specialization, they must typically complete a two to three-year residency, focused on their particular area of interest. 

Among others, specializations can include

  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Endodontics
  • Orthodontics
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery 
  • Periodontics 
  • Prosthodontics
  • Dental anesthesiology 

Certifications and Accreditations 

After completing their training, students must pass their licensure exams. From there, dentists can apply for positions or start their own practices. However, even after they are established, they need to take a certain amount of continuing education credits each year. Each state has their own required number of hours. 

Though not required, certifications and accreditations often allow dentists to provide a higher level of care. Recognition by outside organizations can also open up career opportunities that might not otherwise be available. 

Contact a Pediatric Dentist Today 

Learn more about how to become a general or pediatric dentist. Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids online or call us at (913) 685-9990. 

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm

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