Prior to the 19th century, dentists were self-taught or trained under a
working professional within the field. This process resulted in dentists without
the right skills or education working on their patients. That all changed when
the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery opened its doors. Starting in 1840, they
began a process of training students and preparing them for careers as dentists.
Harvard followed their footsteps, opening their own dental school in 1867.
Suddenly, dentists had both the technical training and the education, which
regulated all new workers in the field.
Today, getting a dentist’s
degree follows much the same path. The process works differently in other
countries, but the United States (US) has the classic example of obtaining a
diploma for practicing in the field of dentistry. There are a number of schools
across the country offering degree programs in the field. The schools are all
regulated to ensure students receive the proper training.
degree typically requires a minimum of eight years of schooling following a high
school education. The first step is obtaining a high school diploma, which the
student uses to seek placement in a four year institution. Those students
admitted to the school need to show high grades in science and math, as well as
other technical courses.
Many students opt for an institution with a
pre-med program because it shows dental schools as having a basic training in
medicine. Other students go to colleges and universities offering Bachelor’s
degree programs in dentistry. Schools in theUS offer a
Bachelor of Dental Surgery, the Bachelor of Dentistry, and the Bachelor of
Dental Science. These types of degrees, however, do not allow the student to
practice dentistry after graduation.
Once they obtain a college
diploma, the next step involves seeking out an advanced degree in the field
of dentistry by attending graduate school. Students have the option of studying
for their Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine. This degree
program involves intense study along with working with patients and in the
field. The point is to prepare students for the real life working conditions
found in a dentist’s office.
This program works similarly to the program
followed by doctors. The students have the option of working as a resident or
doing an internship while still in school. Many focus on doing the internship in
school, where they work in the dental field and taking regular classes.
Following graduation, they complete a minimum two year residency program prior
to working as a dentist.
The entire process of obtaining a dentist
degree takes anywhere from eight years to ten years or longer, depending on a
few factors. Most students spend four years on their undergraduate degree and
two-three years on their advanced degree. Those who take a year off or attend
classes part-time see the program taking much longer. The same holds true for
those who take time off to complete a longer internship.
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