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How long does it take to become a dentist?

January 26, 2023 · 3 min read

Deciding to become a dentist can be a rewarding career choice. You help people improve and maintain their oral health, but you also have the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives every day.

However, becoming a dentist typically takes 8 years of education and training. This includes 4 years of undergraduate study, followed by 4 years of dental school. Dental residencies are an optional additional training program. Recent dental school graduates may gain experience in a specific field of dentistry. They typically last from one to several years and are highly competitive. 


Undergraduate School

To be accepted into dental school, most programs require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree. The undergraduate education does not have to be in a specific field but must include particular prerequisite courses such as biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. These courses lay the foundation for the more advanced scientific coursework in dental school. The duration of an undergraduate degree can vary depending on the university and the country, it can range from 3-4 years.


Dental School

After completing a bachelor's degree, students can then apply to dental school. The dental school typically takes 4 years to complete and includes both classroom instruction and clinical experience.

During the first two years of dental school, students take courses in subjects such as:

  • anatomy;
  • physiology;
  • pharmacology; 
  • dental materials; 


The last two years of dental school are primarily focused on providing a clinical experience. Students work with patients under the supervision of licensed dentists to gain hands-on experience in all areas of dentistry. They also take advanced courses in areas such as periodontology, endodontics, and oral surgery.

After completing dental school, graduates must pass a licensure exam to practice according to their profession. In some countries, they may also be required to complete a period of supervised practice before they are granted a license to practice independently.


Dental Residency

A dental residency is a program that provides advanced training in a specific area of dentistry for recent school graduates. Dental residencies can last from one to several years, depending on the program and the specialty.

During a residency, dentists gain experience in a specialized area such as:

  • as oral and maxillofacial surgery; 
  • orthodontics;  
  • periodontics; 


In addition, they work under the supervision of experienced practitioners and may also participate in research projects or other educational activities.

Dental residencies are typically highly competitive and may require additional exams or certifications in order to be accepted. They are not mandatory for all dentists but can provide valuable experience and training for those who wish to pursue a career in a specific area of dentistry or to increase their chances for academic or private practice opportunities. 


by Evgenii Solianikov

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