Earning a doctoral degree in dentistry usually requires four academic years of study. Dental schools award the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). The four years of study leading to the DDS or DMD degree progress as follows:
Years One and Two
- Classroom and laboratory instruction in basic health sciences (including anatomy, biochemistry, histology, microbiology, pharmacology and physiology) with an emphasis on dental aspects
- Basic principles of oral diagnosis and treatment, may practice on mannequins and models, and may begin treating patients later in the second year
Years Three and Four
- Students treat patients under the supervision of licensed dental faculty. Procedures cover the broad scope of general dentistry and include opportunities to work in a variety of settings, e.g., community clinics, hospitals and outpatient clinics.
- Practice management courses include instruction in effective communication skills, the use of allied dental personnel and business management.
Getting a License
All states require dentists to be licensed to practice. In most states, a candidate must graduate from a U. S. dental school accredited by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation and pass written and practical examinations to qualify for licensure. For more details, see Licensure for Professionals.