Dentist Classes and Courses Overview

Aspiring dentists can choose to become general practitioners or work in a specialty, such as orthodontics, surgery or radiology. Dentist courses are normally taken as part of a complete dental school degree program.

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Essential Information

Becoming a dentist requires earning a doctoral degree in dentistry at a dental school. Admission to such a program usually requires a bachelor's degree with science coursework, as well as the completion of the Dental Acceptance Test (DAT). Students usually take at least four years of classes and practice dentistry skills in laboratories. They also complete clinical experiences in which they work on patients' teeth under supervision, and such work may take place at a hospital, dental clinic, school or other location. Clinical experiences normally take place throughout the entire four years of the program.

Dental schools usually offer a standard sequence of classes beginning with the biological sciences of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and microbiology. After gaining a solid grounding in these areas, students take courses in general and specific areas of dentistry, including oral and maxillofacial surgery, oral radiology, anesthesia, restorative dentistry, dental ethics, geriatric dentistry and pediatric dentistry. They also learn about dental materials, pharmacology, orthodontics, endodontics, dentures, practice management and emergency care.

After completing a dentistry program, individuals must obtain state licensure to work as general dentist. This typically requires passing an exam with both practical and written components. Those desiring to become a dental specialist need to pursue more training through a residency and obtain specialty licensure in their state as well.

Overview of Dentist Courses

Descriptions of sample dental school program courses are listed below.

Human Physiology Course

This first year course for dental students provides a basic understanding of how the human body functions in terms of its physiological processes. Students are given the knowledge to better comprehend the pharmacologic and pathophysiologic processes of their patients. Study of pathophysiology provides the necessary foundation for undertaking further didactic and clinical study in dentistry.

Periodontology Introductory Course

Periodontology is the area of dentistry focusing on the specialized tissues that surround and support the teeth. This course focuses on the micro and macro anatomy of normal healthy periodontoligical tissues and the epidemiology, etiology, histopathological and clinical aspects of the diseased periodontium. The class provides demonstrations on the planning and utilization of dental implants.

Dental Pharmacology Course

This course teaches the fundamental principles of pharmacology as applied to dentistry. Students learn about the general properties of drug action and the functions and workings of several classes of pharmaceuticals. Topics include pharmacodynamic and pharmocokinetic properties, drug classifications, adverse reactions and therapeutic uses of pharmacology.

Basic Orthodontics Course

Orthodontics comprises an entire branch of dental study dealing with the correction and prevention of tooth irregularities and misalignment of the teeth. This course is the first in a sequence of orthodontics courses intended to prepare those entering general practice dentistry for interceptive, preventive and limited corrective orthodontics. Students learn how to interpret diagnostic tests for the diagnosis and treatment of orthodontic issues. Other areas addressed include handling materials used in orthodontic appliances and designing appliances for the most effective treatment.

Clinical Cariology Course

This course deals with the formation and prevention of tooth decay. Dental students learn to detect and diagnose the disease and provide prescriptions for prevention and clinical management. Coursework looks at tooth decay from morphological, epidemiological, biochemical, histological and immunological perspectives. Focus is on the etiology, sequelae and pathogenesis of the disease.

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Popular Schools

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    • Applicants must have completed 12 college credits
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  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
        • Advanced General Dentistry Programs
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    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
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        • Endodontics
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