How They Earned Their “License to Drill”
As you might expect, becoming a dentist requires a lot of education. First, each aspiring DDS must complete an undergraduate degree program, which typically takes three or more years. Then it's off to four years of dental school, following curriculum approved by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation.
In many cases, doctors also pursue postgraduate education in order to become a dental specialist. After graduation, dentists must also go through a rigorous licensing process. While the specifics vary by state, this process typically includes a written examination and a practical evaluation.
In short, by the time a general dentist begins treating patients, he or she has received an average of 7 to 10 years of education, including graduation from an accredited dental school. A practicing dentist must also have satisfied the extensive licensing criteria set by their state dental board.
Which Dentist Is Right for Me?
General dentists (DDS or DMD) perform the widest range of dental treatment and are therefore a great choice for most dental patients. However, in some cases you may need a dentist who specializes in a particular type of care. Your DDS may recommend your to one of the following dental specialists:
- Orthodontist (dental braces)
- Pediatric dentist ("kid dentist")
- Oral surgeon (dental surgery, including a tooth extraction)
- Endodontists (root canal)
- Periodontist (gum disease treatment)
- Prosthodontist (missing teeth)
Your dental care starts with a great dentist. If you don't have one, let us help you find one.