Dentists diagnose and treat problems with a patient’s teeth, gums, and other parts of the mouth. They also administer advice for care and prevention of future dental problems.

"Dentistry is the branch of the healing arts and sciences devoted to maintaining the health of teeth, gums and other hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity and adjacent structures. A dentist is a scientist and clinician dedicated to the highest standards of health through prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral diseases and conditions." (ADEA, 2010)

Dentists can practice in several clinical fields including general dentistry, dental public health, endodontics (dental nerves and pulp), orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics (tissue and bone supporting teeth), and oral and maxillofacial pathology, radiology, and surgery.

Major Selection

As an undergraduate student, you may choose any major in preparation for attending dentistry school. Dentistry schools do not have a specific preference on a particular major, so you are encouraged to choose a major based on your own personal interests and strengths. What’s important is that you have completed the prerequisite courses required by the institution you are applying to.

Prerequisite Courses

Requirements may vary from school to school, so you will want to research different program requirements. In general, most dental schools will expect applicants to have completed the following types of courses:

Course Course Title Required or Recommended
CHEM 150 General Chemistry I Required
CHEM 150L General Chemistry I Lab Required
CHEM 210 General Chemistry II Required
CHEM 210L General Chemistry II Lab Required
CHEM 350 Organic Chemistry I Required
CHEM 355 Organic Chemistry I Lab Required
CHEM 360 Organic Chemistry II Required
CHEM 365 Organic Chemistry II Lab Required
CHEM 400 Biochemistry I Recommended
CHEM 405 Biochemistry I Lab Recommended
BIOL 111 Cell Biology Required
BIOL 111L Cell Biology Lab Required
BIOL 115 Organismal Biology Required
BIOL 115L Organismal Biology Lab Required
BIOL 323 Human Anatomy Recommended
BIOL 323L Human Anatomy Lab Recommended
BIOL 341 Genetics Recommended
BIOL 341L Genetics Lab Recommended
BIOL 349 Human Physiology Recommended
BIOL 349L Human Physiology Lab Recommended
BIOL 350 Microbiology Recommended
BIOL 350L Microbiology Lab Recommended
ENGL 6 credits Required
MATH 261 Calculus I Recommended
BIOL 275, MATH 234, PSY 230L Statistics Required
PHYS 160/L or PHYS 200/L College/General Physics I & Lab or Physics I with Calculus & Lab Required
PHYS 161/L or PHYS 201/L College/General Physics II & Lab or Physics II with Calculus & Lab Required
PSY 113 General Psychology Recommended
ART Art Recommended
CHEM Inorganic Chemistry Recommended

*Other courses may be required/recommended by specific programs. You are responsible for knowing the requirements for each individual program. Policies on AP, IB and community college credits vary by institution.

Find a complete listing of dental schools and their specific requirements.

Admissions Test

DAT: Dental Admissions Test

The current DAT focus on the four sections below:

  • Survey of Natural Sciences (biology, chemistry, organic chemistry)
  • Perceptual Ability Test
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Reasoning (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc.)