Dentistry is a practice of medicine that focuses on the prevention and treatment of diseases and disorders in the oral cavity and areas adjacent and associated to it. Additionally, this practice can improve a patient’s appearance and hygiene, and can involve surgical procedures and implants. Those who pursue a profession in dentistry earn a degree as a DDS (doctor of dental surgery) or a DMD (doctor of dental medicine). Both degrees have the same curriculum requirements and are equivalent to the other. The majority of dentists are general practitioners, but about 20% are specialists. Within the dentistry profession there are nine recognized areas of specialty, including oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, and prosthodontics.

Please note: This is an informational page for current SPU students and does not represent a program that SPU offers.

Becoming a dentist requires four years of undergraduate study, normally following a pre-med track. Prerequisite courses include anatomy, physiology, biochemistry. Students should be able to demonstrate leadership and participate actively in community service. The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is required for admission. Once accepted, two years of didactic courses precede two clinical years. Upon graduation, dentists will need to take the two-part national licensing exam as well as a state clinical licensing exam in the state in which they desire to practice.

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General Information


Dental schools are accredited by the ADA’s Commission on Dental Accreditation and are typically 4 years in duration, with additional years for dental specialties.


Most programs require the following:

  • Bachelor's degree
  • Dental Admission Test
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Interview
  • Dental Office Shadowing Experiences
  • Completion of the following course work:
    • Biology w/ lab, Physics, English, General Chemistry w/ lab, Organic Chemistry w/ lab

Standardized Tests

After completing dental school, dentists must pass the National Board Dental Examinations to receive licensure. Additional requirements depend on the state.

Content provided by PPHS students Becca Gorrie and Emma Honeyman