How long does it take to become a dentist | Facts

Those who want to practice dentistry will always ask how long does it take to become a dentist before they get there and this is commendable.

Asking the educational requirements of becoming a dentist is not bad, rather, it shows you are planning for the work ahead. Also you will be prepared to face the challthat might come.

So knowing how long does it take to become a dentist will be beneficial to all eying this well paying job.

There are some stages you must pass or go through before becoming a dentist. In summary, you need an undergraduate degree, get you DDM or DDS the dental school and pass the state board exam. Let get to them comprehensively.

But Before we go into knowing what it takes to become a dentist, let us see who a dentist is briefly.


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Who is a dentist

According to Wikipedia, “A dentist, also known as a dental surgeon, is a surgeon who specializes in dentistry, the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity”.

They prevent dental diseases and use diagnostic measures to evaluate dental problems. So dentist can be said to be oral hygienist who specialises on our oral health.

A dentist is a medical professional who specializes in oral health. Dentists also use medical tools to maintain/treat conditions like broken teeth, misaligned teeth, periodontal disease and exposed tooth roots.

A dentist in a hospital works with dental hygienist and assistant for effective work delivery.

Brief job description of a dentist

In dentistry, some of this functions are carried out by a dentist for the benefit of their client or patient.

  • They promote and educate good dental health with patients
  • Dentist determines the problem with a patient by taking X-rays
  • Routinely cleaning the tooth and removing tooth decay
  • Eliminating dental problems to patients by creating treatment plans

These and many others are the major job description of a dentist for the benefit of patients.

How long does it take to become a dentist (Dental hygienist and dentist assistant)

It will take you 6 to 8 years to become a dentist. This though is dependent on the path you followed in becoming a dentist. As we said are, before becoming a professional in this profession, you will have to pass through some stages or educational requirements.

The exact route to becoming a dentist will depend on a few factors, such as whether you choose a specialization. Specializations like becoming an oral surgeon or periodontist will require additional training and education.

This educational requirements of becoming a dentist is very important for you to be a registered dentist.

However, some undergraduate programs and dental schools offer combined degree programs that can streamline the process.

In Becoming a dentist you will go through the following stages

  • Undergraduate degree (bachelor’s degree)
  • Take the dental admission test (DAT)
  • Earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) degree
  • Pass national and state licensing exams

These are high paying jobs in health sector

Undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s degree)

Having a bachelor’s degree in related field to dentistry is an educational requirements for becoming a dentist and for applying into dental schools. So you are required to complete your undergraduates degree first.

Though some dental schools combine the bachelor’s degree with a Doctorate of Dentistry, and this will reduce the years in dental schools by 1 ir 2 years.

On completing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to write the Dental Admissions Test and then start you applications for dentistry programs.

This undergraduate programs normally take 4 years to complete, but some dental schools accept students who have completed a three-year pre-dental program

How long does it take to become a dentist

Take the dental admission test (DAT)

In Becoming a dentist you will take the DAT exams to apply for dental school which is advised to take during your junior years in collage.

The DAT exams are administered by the American Dental Association and consists of four multiple-choice tests covering natural sciences, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning and perceptual ability.

With the DAT score and your GPA, your application into the dental school for dentistry program will be reviewed. So your score here is very important on your getting admission in to the dental school.

Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) degree

After completing a bachelor’s degree an passiny your DAT exams, aspiring dentists will need to complete a dental program. This leads to a Doctoral degree, either a DDS or a DDM.

Though having different names, the DDS and DDM are the same degree but are given by different dental school. Also both are recognized by the state licencing board.

The DDS and DDM usually take four years to complete. So after your four years in the collage, you still another four years in dental school, making eight (8) years in becoming a dentist.

Dental program students can expect to take courses in dental anatomy, biology, oral microbiology and dental radiology. Students will also complete multiple internships and residencies during their dental program to receive on-the-job dental training.

National and State Dentist licensing exams

The National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) is a pass/fail test that focuses on basic sciences. Since all dentists must be licensed in the state in which they want to practice, you must pass this exam.

In summary, answering the question how long does it take to become a dentist, it will take you firstly, 4 years in undergraduates degree program, secondly, 4 years in dental school which makes it 8 years to become a dentist.

However, if you enroll in a dental school that offers an undergraduates course related to dentistry, the number of years to become a dentist will reduce.

The number of years you might spend in school studying dentistry can also increase if you go into any of the specialties. Now let us look into the specialisation in dentistry.

How long does it take to become a dentist assistant and dental hygienist is on this listed above.

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Specialization in dentistry

Specializations in dental technology can offer aspiring dentists even more career opportunities but additional education and training are required.

Dental students who want to specialize in one of the nine approved ADA specializations will need to enroll in a dental program that offers the additional required training.

Some of the specialisation in dentistry includes

Oral and maxillofacial pathologist

The Oral and maxillofacial pathologists are specialization in dental health that focused on the diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases.

They work with dental patients with frequent cavities, periodontal disease, dental trauma or cleft lips.

You might ask how long does it take to become an Oral and maxillofacial. It will 1 or two years after the normal dental degree (DDS and DDM), to become an Oral and maxillofacial.

Pediatric dentist

A pediatric dentist specializes in the education and maintenance/treatment of dental conditions affecting patients whonare still in their young age.

Children and teens have unique dental concerns, as they are still growing and developing. It will still take additional years after dental school degree to become a Pediatric dentist.

General dentist

As the name implies, a general dentist usually work in a dental office in a public health environment.

The work of General dentist in a public health sector is to educate patients on proper dental care practices and carry out checkups but they may also sometimes perform surgeries.


An orthodontist or dental orthodontist focuses on the alignment of the teeth. Dental Orthodontists often work with children, teens and young adults in diagnosing and treating misaligned teeth.

As a dental orthodontist is a specialization in dentistry, ho long it takes to become a dental orthodontist is dependent on the path you followed from the collage to dental school and then orthodontist schools.

It will take about 8 yeato 10 years to become an orthodontist

Oral and maxillofacial radiologist

An oral and maxillofacial radiologist focuses mainly on the evaluation and interpretation of diagnostic images.

An Oral radiologist often assist (as a dentist assistant) other dental professionals when evaluating the results of X-rays.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeon

An oral surgeon focuses mainly on the surgical part of dentistry. These surgery carried on pateints might include to repair damaged tissue or to correct misalignments with the jaw.

They also act as dentist assistant to General dentists


A periodontist works mainly on periodontal disease. They use diagnostic tools such as x-ray machines to determine the extent of periodontal disease and develop a treatment plan to address it.

How long it take to become a periodontist is the same as other specialization in dentistry


A prosthodontist work is to creates crowns and dental implants and base on improving the overall cosmetics of the teeth. The dental hygienist works as an assistant here for general oral health.


An endodontist one of the specialties in dental health treats tooth conditions that extend to the root of the tooth. They evaluate, diagnose and treat diseases and injuries to the interior part of the teeth.

How long it take to become an endodontist is the same as other specialization in dentistry.

A dental hygienist and assistant works with all the specialties in dental health for the general oral health of patients.