High School and College Students

Interested in career as a dentist?

You are at the right place! Find useful resources and helpful information below for both high school and college students that will kick start your journey to becoming a dentist.

Also, visit GoDental for additional career information provided by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA).

High School Students

Plan Ahead
While in high school take math and science courses, enroll in chemistry, biology and algebra and consider taking AP (Advanced Placement) science courses. Find out everything you can about dentistry to discover if dentistry is a good fit for you and to demonstrate your interest in the profession. How? Job shadow or volunteer at your family dentist's office, orthodontist or pediatric dentist's office. Contact a local practicing dentist to answer your questions. If there isn’t a mentor program in your area to pursue job shadowing or volunteering, contact the nearest dental society.

Does your high school have health careers clubs? HOSA - Future Health Professionals is a national organization with high school chapters offering health profession career information and Learning for Life (Exploring) offers students 14-20 years old programs to explore careers.


Join American Student Dental Association (ASDA)
Here’s what some ASDA members say about the benefits of membership: “Changing the way the laws work and protecting dental students is truly the greatest benefit.” “The Mouth and other ASDA publications help me understand what life as a dental student is all about.”

“As a high school student I found out just what I need to get prepared for dental school.”

ASDA helps you prepare for dental school by sharing current issues important to dental students and dentistry. ASDA publications are written by dental students and include these free publications

  • Getting into Dental School: ASDA’s Guide for Predental Students,
  • ASDA News (monthly newsletter)
  • Mouth (quarterly journal)

Visit ASDA or call 800.621.8099 to become a member.

Additional Resources: Links to Helpful Information

Career Exploring


Explore Health Careers

Accurate, up-to-date health careers resource information for students and advisors that includes links to health-related education and training programs, financial aid resources, specialized learning opportunities, and current issues in health care.

Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA)
A national organization to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and enhance the delivery of quality health care for all. High school chapters explore a variety of health related careers including dentistry. Latinos for Dental Careers
Information to encourage youth, particularly Latino youth, to take advantage of career opportunities in the dental profession—dentistry, dental assisting, dental hygiene and dental laboratory technology.

Learning for Life—Exploring Programs
Information about “hands-on” career exploration program, for youth 14-20 years old from a diversity of backgrounds. National network of Learning for Life offices available online.

Life Works National Institute of Health 
Comprehensive information for exploring health careers including a career finder, in-depth success stories of health professionals, education and salary information.

Related Dental Associations
American Dental Education Association (ADEA)
National organization for dental education with the mission to address current issues influencing dental education. Members include all U.S. and Canadian dental schools, other dental education programs, corporations, faculty, and students.


American Student Dental Association (ASDA)

National student-run organization providing services and advocacy for students pursuing careers in dentistry. Helpful publications, membership available.

Hispanic Dental Association (HDA)
Information on the national organization of dental professionals involved in promoting and improving the oral health of the Hispanic community and providing advocacy for Hispanic oral health professionals across the United States.

National Dental Association (NDA)
Organization dedicated to serving as advocates in the public arena and private sector to increase access to care for underserved. Involved in recruiting underrepresented minorities into the profession and improving the educational opportunities of minorities underrepresented in the oral health field.

Student National Dental Association (SNDA)
Student dental organization made up of African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian backgrounds with the goal of improving the minority health manpower distribution among the minority populations.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Promotes efforts to improve oral, dental and craniofacial health through research, research training, and the dissemination of health information.

Society of American Indian Dentists (SAID)
National organization promotes dental health in the American Indian community; encourages American Indian youth to pursue a career in the profession of dentistry; serves as a resource for assistance to American Indian students interested in the profession of dentistry; provides role-model leadership; promote American Indian heritage and traditional values and promotes and supports the unique concerns of American Indian dentists.

Society of American Indian Dentists at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health
(SAID-ASDOH)
Student Chapter of the Society of American Indian Dentist promotes the recruitment and retention of American Indian students into dental school and encourages the students to return to their American Indian communities to practice their dental profession. The Student Chapter provides specific resources for American Indian students including mentoring opportunities. The mailing address is: ASDOH Dental Clinic, ATTN: SAID-ASDOH, 5855 E. Still Circle, Mesa, AZ 85206.

Other Programs

Pipeline Profession and Practice—Community Based Dental Education
Launched in 2003, it is designed to help increase access to dental care for underserved populations. Grants from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California Endowment were awarded to 15 dental schools to develop community-based clinical education programs and to increase recruitment and retention of low-income and underrepresented minority students.

Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)
A free summer enrichment program for high school graduates.

College Students

Join American Student Dental Association (ASDA)
Here’s what some ASDA members say about the benefits of membership:

“Changing the way the laws work and protecting dental students is truly the greatest benefit.”

“The Mouth and other ASDA publications help me understand what life as a dental student is all about.”

“As a high school student I found out just what I need to get prepared for dental school.”

Prepare for dental school by learning about current issues important to dental students and dentistry. Get the scoop about the dental school experience. ASDA publications are written by dental students and include these free publications:

  • Getting into Dental School: ASDA’s Guide for Predental Students
  • ASDA News (monthly newsletter)
  • Mouth (quarterly journal)

Visit www.asdanet.org/joinnow.aspx or call 800.621.8099 to become a member.

Mentoring Program
Would you like to talk with a dentist in your community, ask questions and possibly observe first-hand (job shadow) a dental professional at work? Mentors can help you understand dentistry from the other side of the chair and provide guidance about pursuing dentistry as a career.

Ask your local dental society for help.

Predental Timeline
Freshman/Sophomore Years
  • Begin to complete chemistry, biology, physics and organic chemistry requirements
  • Check out your career center’s dentistry-related resources
  • Join a dental-related student organization to get exposure to the dental profession
  • Consider job shadowing and /or volunteer experience
  • Consider alternative career plans
  • Attend your college’s health-related career fairs
Junior Year
  • Complete prerequisite requirements by end of 2nd semester
  • Prepare to take the DAT
  • Apply for admission at least a year in advance
  • Review dental school catalogs and/or Websites. See:
  • Gather letters of evaluation from faculty and others

Senior Year
  • Take advantage of “mock” interview practice with Pre-health Profession Advisor or Career Center staff before dental school admissions interviews
  • Complete forms for financial aid
  • Send thank you notes to evaluators, advisors and mentors

Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)
This national Robert Wood Johnson (RWFJ) sponsored program is a free summer enrichment program focused on improving access to information and resources for college students interested in health professions.

Find out more at https://www.shpep.org/

 

Dental School Program

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 manikins 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 Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and pass written and practical examinations to qualify for licensure.
Additional Resources
Career Exploring Explore Health Careers www.explorehealthcareers.org
Accurate, up-to-date health careers resource information for students and advisors that includes links to health-related education and training programs, financial aid resources, specialized learning opportunities, and current issues in health care. Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) www.hosa.org/
A national organization to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and enhance the delivery of quality health care for all. High school chapters explore a variety of health related careers including dentistry.

Learning for Life—Exploring Programs

https://www.learningforlife.org/
Information about Exploring, Learning for Life's “hands-on” career exploration program, for youth 14-20 years old from a diversity of backgrounds. National network of Learning for Life offices available online.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)

https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/careers-training/dental-medical-students
In-depth stories from the perspective of oral health research professionals in various settings, comprehensive career finder for health careers and Women in Dental Research, a DVD highlighting a variety of women in dental research careers.

Another NIDCR site, www.nidcr.nih.gov/CareersAndTraining/Fellowships/HighSchoolCollegeStudents/, highlights summer internship program opportunities for high school and college students.

Public Health Careers
http://www.publichealthonline.org/careers/

Related Dental Associations

American Dental Education Association (ADEA)
www.adea.org
National organization for dental education with the mission to address current issues influencing dental education. Members include all U.S. and Canadian dental schools, other dental education programs, corporations, faculty, and students.

American Student Dental Association (ASDA)
www.asdanet.org
National student-run organization providing services and advocacy for students pursuing careers in dentistry. Helpful publications, membership available.

Hispanic Dental Association (HDA)
www.hdassoc.org/
Information on the national organization of dental professionals involved in promoting and improving the oral health of the Hispanic community and providing advocacy for Hispanic oral health professionals across the United States.

National Dental Association (NDA)
www.ndaonline.org
Organization dedicated to serving as advocates in the public arena and private sector to increase access to care for underserved. Involved in recruiting underrepresented minorities into the profession and improving the educational opportunities of minorities underrepresented in the oral health field.

National Association for the Advisors of the Health Profession (NAAHP)
https://connect.naahp.org/naahpwwwsite/student-resources/find-an-advisor 
Information for students exploring or planning a career in the health professions including locating a college health professions advisor and the helpful, supportive role of the health professions advisor.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
www.nidcr.nih.gov
Promotes efforts to improve oral, dental and craniofacial health through research, research training, and the dissemination of health information.

American Indian Dentists
Society of American Indian Dentists (SAID)
National organization promotes dental health in the American Indian community; encourages American Indian youth to pursue a career in the profession of dentistry; serves as a resource for assistance to American Indian students interested in the profession of dentistry; provides role-model leadership; promote American Indian heritage and traditional values and promotes and supports the unique concerns of American Indian dentists.

Society of American Indian Dentists at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health
(SAID-ASDOH)
Student Chapter of the Society of American Indian Dentist promotes the recruitment and retention of American Indian students into dental school and encourages the students to return to their American Indian communities to practice their dental profession. Provides specific resources for American Indian students including mentoring opportunities. The mailing address is: ASDOH Dental Clinic, ATTN: SAID-ASDOH, 5855 E. Still Circle, Mesa, AZ 85206.

Student National Dental Association (SNDA)
http://www.sndanet.org/
Student dental organization made up of African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian backgrounds with the goal of improving the minority health manpower distribution among the minority populations.

Other Programs

Pipeline Profession and Practice—Community Based Dental Education
http://www.dentalpipeline.org/
Launched in 2003, it is designed to help increase access to dental care for underserved populations. Grants from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California Endowment were awarded to 15 dental schools to develop community-based clinical education programs and to increase recruitment and retention of low-income and underrepresented minority students.

Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)
https://www.shpep.org/
A free (full tuition, housing, and meals) six-week summer medical and dental school preparatory program that offers eligible students and personalized medical and dental school preparation including intensive academic enrichment.