How to Become a Dentist

How to Become a Dentist

What is a Dentist?

A dentist can be described as a super medical specialist dedicated to the care of the teeth, mouth, jaws and surrounding organs. They have studied the physiological and disease processes affecting structures in this region, and they understand the principles of diagnosis and the management of diseases and abnormalities affecting teeth, gums and surrounding structures and uses cutting edge (pun intended!) technology to treat these conditions.

How can I become a dentist?

If you are still in high school, it is essential that you excel in following subjects:

Additional optional subjects to study:

Prepare and submit an application to the dental school of your choice. Remember that it is advisable to forward an application to a number of dental schools at the same time, so make sure to pick out more than one that you would be keen on studying at. In some countries there are dedicated organizations who can assist you with this task.

Studies at college/university:
Depending on the state/country you live in, you might need a predental science degree followed by a dental degree. Some dental schools combine these two degrees in one single degree.

See typical curriculum contents of a dental degree here…


What are the attributes that I need to become a dentist?

First of all, you will need a strong desire to become a dentist.
This may sound silly to you, but this is very important. Do not pursue dentistry as a career if you are in any way unsure about your decision.

Here is a list of some attributes and their explanations:

The History of Dentistry

Egyptians(3000 B.C.)

The first known dentist was an Egyptian named Hesi-Re. He was a physician and the chief “toothist” to the Pharaohs.


Hippocrates (500 B.C.)

The father of modern medicine also appreciated the importance of teeth. He accurately described the technique for reducing a fracture of the jaw and how to relocate a dislocated mandible. Hippocrates accurately described extraction forceps in one of his books, and devoted a complete chapter to teeth. He stated that figs and soft sweets produce putrefaction (decay).
Barber-surgeons (±1200-1745 A.D.)

The Barber-Surgeons practiced dentistry – mainly tooth extractions during the Middle Ages – often plying their trade in public squares.


Dentistry a discipline in its own right (±1700-1900)

By the early 1700’s, dentistry was still considered a lesser part of medicine but by the end of this century it had begun to emerge as a discipline in its own right, probably due to the work and writings of the dental surgeon Pierre Fauchard.

The pain associated with dentistry remained one of the most important factors delaying progress in dentistry. It therefore comes as no surprise that dentists figure prominently in the development of local and general anesthesia. Dr. Horace Wells, a young conscientious dentist, is credited for the discovery of practical anesthesia.

In 1885, Roentgen discovered x-rays, with wide diagnostic applications in the field of dentistry.

From the 1900 to the present time, progress in scientific dentistry was exponential, with advances in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the full spectrum of diseases and conditions affecting the teeth and other oral structures. Dentistry has developed into several specialties, with specialists recognized in most countries in the following fields:


Benefits to following a dental career

Other careers in the field of dentistry


Frontiers of Dentistry

Dentistry is an exciting field indeed, with new and better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat conditions of the teeth and mouth constantly being researched and discovered.

The Apprentice Doctor Foundation Course & Kit offers plentiful relevant information together with numerous practical projects, for this very purpose!


To find out more about this resource


Dr. Anton

Dr. Anton Scheepers, BChD, MDent, FFD(SA), MFOS, President of The Apprentice Corporation

Filed under: For Future Doctors

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