Prepare for Dental School in College

waxing exercise

A waxing exercise done in my pre-dental class.

Here are some things I did to prepare for dental school in college:

Take pre-dental classes

I went to Brigham Young University. BYU has a great pre-dental program. A lot of people that go there, go on to become dentists. At BYU I had access to four different pre-dental classes.

 

  1. I took a class where local dentists would come in and talk with us every week, and we would write papers about what they said.
  2. I took a tooth carving and pre-dental school class where I would carve up teeth and wax. They would teach us basic dental skills like teeth numbering and impressions- very basic stuff that has been helpful since I have been here in dental school.
  3. I also took another dental class where I would go and shadow and work with a dentist for a semester and write about it to get credit.
  4. I took a class where they helped us fill out our application. This class was great because we walked through the application process together and learned ways to improve our personal statement.

These classes really helped me prepare and strengthen my application to dental school. I had a lot of hours shadowing. I had a lot of experience. When I even went in to talk for my interviews, I brought the teeth that I had waxed and showed them to the professor I interviewed with. I think that played a significant roll in my getting accepted so early.




What if my school doesn’t offer pre-dental classes?

If your school doesn’t have these kinds of programs, you can make your own with whatever time you have. Call some local dentists in the area or your own dentist and see if you can go in and shadow with them. Ask if you can work with them on a volunteer basis. If you work hard, they might hire you in the future. Regardless, you will get the hours you need to show that you are actually passionate about becoming a dentist.

Find out if you are eligible for an early acceptance program

Lots of dental schools have an early acceptance programs with local universities. Start looking into these programs early, you will need to have between a certain credit number to apply. San Antonio will only let you apply if you have between 12 and 30 college credit hours. Make sure you look into it early and fit in your schools window. You can find out more by visiting your college pre-professional office or calling the dental school.

Early Acceptance Program for Dental School

Picture of Early Acceptance Program for San Antonio Dental School

In an early acceptance program you start college knowing that you will finish your college in the dental school. You do the first three years of college at a University participating in the program, and the forth year in dental school.

So instead of eight years you only need seven, and you get a dental degree and a bachelors degree from the dental school. Also, once you are in the program if you meet a minimum GPA requirement  you are guaranteed a seat in the school.

Get Good grades

Another thing you can do is to get really good grades in all of your science classes: biology, chemistry, physics, math, and statistics.. Try to get an A in these classes. Do whatever you can. If the classes are too hard, spread them out over your four year experience.

Use www.ratemyprofessors.com to find the professors with whom you think you will be able to get an A. Talk to other students. Prepare and work as hard as you possibly can, because getting into dental school is becoming more and more competitive. Having a strong GPA will really help you. Plus, if you learn this material, it is going to make taking the DAT easier, and it will also make dental school easier.

Pay attention in your classes

Realize that when you get to dental school, you will be taking biochemistry, pathology, histology etc…. All of these classes build on the principles you learn in your undergraduate. Physiology was a lot easier for me in dental school because I paid attention and learned a lot in my undergraduate physiology class. So do well in your science classes now, and it will make a difference later.

Get letters of recommendation from your strong classes

Also, you are going to need to get letters of recommendation from professors. They require them to be from science professors. So if you are ever doing particularly well in a class, get to know your professor. Go visit them once, twice, three, four times a semester. Make sure they know your name. That way, at the end of the semester when you get an A, you can go to them and ask them for a letter of recommendation. Check out my letter of recommendation techniques.

Set yourself apart

Do different things to set yourself apart. I read an article once about the Superstar Effect. Try to set yourself apart and be the superstar in something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be science or dentistry related. Set yourself apart in something people will remember you by. If you can be in the pre-dental club and get a leadership position, great. But it doesn’t have to be dentistry related, just try to set yourself apart.

Maybe you can get involved in local politics. That will set you apart. Maybe you can become an expert in a sport. Playing a sport can set you apart. Try and publish something, even if it is art, poetry or fiction writing.

Waxing at home

Waxing teeth at home for dental school

I was always looking for opportunities like that to set myself apart. Leadership organizations can be beneficial. Maybe your college or university has a pre-dental club. Get involved in that. Let the president know that you would like to be involved in a leadership position. It is easier than you think to get on in these clubs. If your university or college doesn’t have one, start one. Because then you will be the president and that looks good. If you can be involved in any other clubs, that will help you as well. Doesn’t really matter what your hobbies are. Dental school’s like hobbies.

I have a friend who had a black belt when he applied to dental school. He says that this was something they talked about during his interview. Another friend was involved with the Boy Scouts of America and was a scout master. He said that for about 15 minutes in his interview, they talked about different things the Cub Scout group had been working on. These are the types of things that are going to make you stand out when you go to dental school.

Go here for more dental interviewing tips.

Pick a major you enjoy

When you are picking your major, I would highly recommend that you pick a major that you enjoy. Even if it means you are going to be working on your undergraduate degree a little bit longer. If you have to take five years, but you get an undergraduate degree in something that you love, and you do all of the science classes on the side so it takes longer, that would be a good decision in my opinion.

Choosing a major you love gives you a degree you can fall back on if you decide dentistry isn’t right for you later. Also, choosing a major you love will help you enjoy your time through you undergraduate experience. It could even be something that sets you apart.

Ithink that about 90% of my current class majored in biology or a very-related field. The few people that did business or foreign languages stood out and were easy to remember. Try to at least branch off as much as possible. I studied nutritional science, which had all of the core science classes included in my major, but it helped me to stand out slightly from the large amount of biology majors.

Best of luck with your dental school preparation. Its a long road but it will be worth it. Also, I’m open if you have any better ideas.

35 thoughts on “Prepare for Dental School in College

  1. I am finishing my freshman year in college right now I am an accounting major. I’m starting to realize I made a mistake when I decided I didn’t want to go to dental school anymore. Is it too late for me to start preparing and try to get into dental school? I haven’t taken any science classes and my GPA is 3.6. Can I keep my business major and take science classes to prepare?

    • Yes, depending on the Dental school that you apply to most do not require any type of science specific degree, but rather pre-requisite courses. Most individuals opt to going for a science major because most of the pre-reqs fall under the requirements to receiving that degree. Your current GPA won’t matter so much when you start taking science classes because when applying to dental school most often they only evaluate you based on the science grades that you get (physics, chemistry, biology, etc). Be sure that when you do start applying to dental schools that you are also looking at the pre-req requirements at each institution as some may not be the same. Take for example, University of Washington, they are one of the few dental schools that require Microbiology 1 &2 as a pre-req to getting into their program.

  2. I am in HS and so far have a cumulative GPA of 3.94 taking Chemistry Honors and took Biology Honors freshman year and as I read the HS and College articles. The message I got was do as many science classes as you can and get the best possible grade you can get in said science classes or did I not get the message?

    • You got it! My suggestion would be to use highschool to prepare for your college science classes. If you can score in A in chemistry honors, you should be able to score an A in college general chemistry. Its the science classes in college that really count for your application!

      • Okay, thank you so much. Sorry for the late reply. Now I will try even harder to become a dentist. Thanks for the reply again. I will come back if I have any other questions. This website is really helpful.

  3. Becoming a dentist is my number one goal in life. it really means a lot to me. i currently go to a community college, I was thinking of doing four semesters at the community college and transfar into a university, most likely Bradley University or Illinois State. At the community college I will be taking intro to bio, bio plants and animlas,& bio human body, chem 1&2, and organic chem. statistics and on math courses. After I will transfer to a four year university and finish my other two years at the university. Am I at a good start?

  4. Hi I will get my high school diploma in December my dream has always been to become an Oral Maxillofacial surgeon. I was wondering if you can tell me that steps i should take? And also how long will it take?

  5. I am in community college right now and I am taking microbiology, bio, chem, anatomy etc. to get into a dental hygiene program but after looking at your web site and others has me interested in becoming a dentist. I wanted to ask do I have to graduate community college and go on to a university in order to get into dental school. What I mean is what are the exact requirements to apply?

  6. Hi I want to be an oral maxillofacial surgeon so after my 4 years in college (I will be an incoming freshman in college this year) do I have to do 4 years med school then dental school?

    • That depends on what type of dental school you attend. Some schools make the MD part optional, others make it mandatory. It depends where you go to get your oral surgeon training and also if you want an MD in your title.

  7. What GPA do I need for Dental school? Can you explain. My GPA overall is 3.35. I just completed my second year in college. I had 2 years of biology, physical and organic chem, one physics, calculus. I still have two years to improve. Do I have a chance? Thank you.

  8. Hey Ben!your website helped me alot. Thank you!!I have a few questions. OK so I will be a sophmore in college and was wondering what GPA is required to get into dentistry school 3.5? and how do you prepare for DAT?? I honestly dont know what to major in. I mean I want to do biology but then I want to set myself apart from everyone. Also, was dentistry school hard? I mean I am sure it was hard but i heard some people say that you forget about your social life onces you get into dentistry school because its so hard and you get tons of homework. Please let me know how it was for you. Thanks!=)

  9. Hey Ben like everyone else I also stummbled on your website when looking up thigs about becoming a dentist . I am a senior right now and my grades are a little shaky for entering the pre dental program at university of Michigan -flint , I have a 3.0 and a 22 on my act . If I don’t get into the predental program does that mean my dreams of becoming a dentist are done or can I take other classes on my own? Is it possible to enter the pre dental school after my freshmen year if I get good grades during my freshmen year? Or should I just not do it ? Thank you so much. Your website is really helpful

  10. i still have not entered college or anything yet..and being a dentist seems like a dream to me. But im scared that since i didnt care during high school and barly did a lot..that i wont get the chance to become my dream..

    • If you want it, you can have it.

      Dental schools will hardly even look at your high school grades. Its almost unimportant. Just work harder than you’ve ever worked to do well in college. Get a 4.0. Honestly, its not about how smart you are, its about how hard you work.

  11. Okay im looking at all of your information and i might have just missed it but im starting to apply for this coming fall semester and it will be my first semester of school, as of now i really want to be a dentist and im going to try my very hardest to get it done. So i am trying to figure out a few details, one is im planning on going to community college for the first 2 years and then to a four year ofcourse. Will i need to be taking anything specific during the first 2 years at the community college or will i just be doing regular basics that everyone does then when i transfer over to the 4 year college take classes for my major? I dont want to be behind when i start at the 4 year college, but then im not really sure what classes to take the first two years if thats the case. Should i talk with someone at the community college about it? Or would they know?

  12. Hello, I was just wondering if it mattered at all about where you went to school as an undergrad. Would you recommend going to a school that has a dental school already established or a school that has a strong pre-dental program? Would the chances on being accepted into dental school increase at all? I am thinking about becoming a dentist but want to attend a college that hs neither pre-dent or a dentl school.

    • Obviously having a nice pre-dent program helps but it is not a requirement. If there is no one there to offer you classes about becoming a dentist it just means you have to go out and learn on your own. Shadow a dentist, read up on dentistry online. Join the predental club at your school or if they don’t have one, start one. Get involved in community service. Get good grades and you will be fine. Best of luck!

  13. I just have one fear of becoming a dentist…Lets say I receive a Bachelors degree in Biology and meet all the prerequisites for Dental School…but don’t get in and have this major in biology for nothing…Can someone always re-apply or apply to several dental schools??
    Also I was wondering if it is becoming increasingly harder to get into Dental school? and if it would be wise to pre-med, and then go to Medical School before Dental?
    Thanks so much for such an incredibly resourceful website! It truly helps a ton!

  14. Hi Ben, you have no idea how relieved and satisfied I am to have come across your site! I have been researching since my senior year in high school about becoming a dentist but never really found a website as specific and clear as yours, so thank you! I am a college freshman and about to start my second semester, my major now is Dental Hygiene and am now taking Anatomy & Physiology 2 and Chemistry to get into the Dental Hygiene program in September. In hope that I get in I will be working my way to be a dental hygienist, but I want to become a Dentist. Do you think becoming a dental hygienist and taking all these sciences first will be an advantage for me later on when I want to apply to Dental School to become a Dentist? Will I run into all these sciences in dental school again and have to take them? Am I going in a good path to become a Dentist? I really hope to hear from you. Thanks!!

    • Glad my website has been helpful for you, I had the same problems I always wished for a website like this.

      Learning as much as you can about dentistry can’t hurt your application to become a dentist. There is 1 girl in our class that was previously a dental hygienist, and she is very advanced. With that being said, you need to make sure that the classes you take cover the specific requirements set forth by the dental school. Hygiene is a great path because the knowledge and experience will help you out in dental school. But you must make sure you get all your core science classes taken care of, O-chem, physics, gen chem, etc… I would talk with a school counselor.

  15. I did so much research about becoming a dentist, at first it was very frustrating just to find some information in detail about what it takes to become a dentist, until i stumbled on your article. Very well written article. I learned so much! every question that i wanted answered you answered and i fully understand and know this is the career for me. Thanks so much Ben i wish many great things for you.

    • Glad it was helpful for you. Best wishes in your path to dentistry. The path is long but the finish line makes it worth the run!

  16. LOVE UR SITE MR.BEN ITS SIMPLY GREAT . I AM JUST IN 9TH CLASS AND REALLY WANNA BE A DENTIST …N WANTED TO ASK U .WHAT SUBJECTS SHOULD I TAKE IN FUTURE TO BECOME A DENTIST ? AND PLZ HELP ME OUT TO GET GOOD MARKS..

  17. I am so happy I have found your page. I’m excited about becoming a dentist. I have only just started college and was heading towards my nutritional and dietetics BA when I found the passion for becoming a dentist. I am a disabled student and am trying to decide if my back injury is going to keep me from doing dentistry. My main problem is standing and from what I have found is that dentistry is possible from a sitting position and most non disabled dentists sit for there procedures anyways, any ideas or tips for or against this?
    I will be sure and keep checking out your page if you could please keep it updated I would love to follow your journey. I am probably as non traditional a student as it comes with my disabilities and age since I am 28 and just starting college…so it is important to me to know everything I can to make sure this is a viable field for me.
    Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comments, I am glad my website is helpful for you. Great major, I loved nutrition and find it useful here in dental school all the time.

      As for you questions, it is true, most dentistry can be done from a sitting position. In our clinic we do everything seated. At an oral surgery rotation downtown and a few other places we work standing. But that is not to say that it can’t be done seated. With accommodations, I know that you could be successful even with a back problem. But, it will certainly be tough.

      Dentistry is hard on the back and neck. There is lots of funny positions, leaning, stretching, and bending. We work in a very small space all day and it’s tough on the body. I imagine it would be even harder starting out with back problems. If possible, I would highly suggest you volunteer with a dentist and evaluate how it works for you. Especially since you are just starting college, try to volunteer at a local practice and see if your back can take the routine.

      Good luck.

  18. I was just wondering if taking your pre-dent requirments at a community college while finishing your Bachelors would count for certain dental schools? since some schools have a cap on how many units can be takin at a community college

    • It really depends on the school you are applying to. I believe that some classes from a community college is fine, but I don’t think dental schools like to see all of them from a community college. It is generally believed that community colleges are easier and so it might look bad. If it comes down to you and another student, and they don’t have any community college classes, and you do, they might get the interview.

      If there is a cap or not really depends specifically on the school you want to attend. I would search their website out for an answer, and if that fails you should call the school.

  19. Ben! i’m really glad i stumbled upon your website. i’m not sure if you’ll be able to answer this question but i thought i’d ask anyways… do you know if undergrad classes ( to get my associates degree) would count towards my bachelors too? or is it that once i get my bachelors degree, i can start doing the classes for my pre-dental? Ex: is taking anatomy now (undergrad) going to count towards my pre-dental prerequisites?

    • Class that you take at an undergraduate school do count towards fulfilling pre-dental requirements. Most people finish all their pre-dental requirements while getting their bachelors degree. This is why there are so many science majors applying to dental school, because you finish your degree and get all your pre-dental requirements done at the same time. Classes for an associates degree also count, assuming they are the same level of classes someone pursuing a bachelors would take (CHEM, BIO, etc…). I think the only situation where classes don’t count are when they are AP classes earned by test taking high school. I am under the impression that for these types of credits, the class must be repeated.

  20. Ben,

    This is a great site to have up. A lot of useful information and good resources all in one area. I am currently a predent majoring in nutritional sciences, and it feels really good to see someone make it with the same major! Can I ask if you pursued any research? And if so, would it greatly improve an application? I would like to do research, but am trying to prioritize my extracurricular for my last few years of undergrad. Thanks again for all the tips.

    • Thanks for the message. I didn’t do any research in undergraduate. I feel like in dental school it is less important than med. school, unless you are planning on doing a DDS/PhD program. However, I suspect that some schools like to see research more than others. Make sure you review your top school’s websites to see if you get that vibe.

      Also, if you don’t do any research, you need to do something else. You will need more service, awards, extracurricular activities, etc…

  21. Hi, thank u for your information,

    I want to go to dentistry school and I really want to be one. It means a lot to me seeing a beautiful smile on somones face.
    Now, I’m afraid of one thing, that I won’t make it. I want to get rid of that fear!
    Like I literally do! 🙁

  22. I JUST LOVED YOUR SITE, IT WAS GREAT AND COMPLETE. ALSO HELPED ME ALOT AND NOW I AM INTRESTED IN DENTAL CARRER AND THABK YOU
    SARA

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