Dental Medicine (D.M.D., D.D.S.)

Dentistry is a dynamic and rewarding profession that offers many unique opportunities and benefits. Students can explore careers in the realm of private practice, academia (teaching and research), government agencies, or industry. The hallmarks of a qualified dental laboratory technician are accuracy, artistic ability and attention to minute detail. If you are interested in helping patients, have strong communication skills, enjoy working with your hands as well as your mind, and want a career with responsibility, dentistry may be your calling.

In addition to the text that follows, be sure to check out GoDental, an initiative by the American Dental Education Association that provides those considering dentistry information and guidance to apply to programs, matriculate, and eventually fulfill dental career goals. You can also subscribe to the GoDental newsletter.

Five Reasons to be a Dentist

  1. Dentists play an important role in improving patients’ health and appearance.
  2. A private practice dentist can create his/her own hours and is not generally subject to the effects of managed care and reductions in federal funding.
  3. The average net income for dentists has doubled in the last decade and is in the highest 5% of U.S. family incomes. In fact, net hourly incomes for dentists now exceed those of family physicians, general internists, and pediatricians.
  4. The dental profession benefits from and heads important new research on the use of lasers, computer-generated imaging and other new technology.
  5. Dentists are often able to enter practice directly upon completion of four years of dental school.

Generally, a degree in dentistry requires four academic years of study. The first two years usually cover the basic sciences and the last two years, diagnosing oral disease, surgery, and clinical study. At the completion of the curriculum, students are awarded either a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) degree.

Pre-Dental Course Requirements


Dental schools do not select or give preference to any particular majors; therefore, you do not have to major in the sciences. Dental schools are looking for well-educated and well-rounded individuals. Consider alternate future careers in the event you change your mind, or are not accepted to dental school. Choose to major in something that you enjoy and where you do well. Although most dental schools don’t require a bachelor’s degree, it is highly recommended that you have plans to complete an undergraduate degree.

The requirements for entry into Dental School vary a bit from school to school but, in general, the requirements are as listed below. Planning for application to dental school is a simple process that involves completing the requirements of your major and working with your pre-dental advisor to ensure all required courses are completed prior to submitting your application.

Pre-Dental Requirements

  • 2 courses in general (inorganic) chemistry with associated labs
  • 2 courses in organic chemistry with associated lab (a separate course at JHU, a 3 credit Organic Chemistry lab)
  • 2 courses in biology with associated labs
  • 1 course in biochemistry (no associated lab necessary if not required for major)
  • 2 courses in general physics with associated labs (Calculus I and II are co-requisites for General Physics I & II at JHU)
  • 2 courses in mathematics (one of the courses should be an introductory-level course in statistics)
  • 2 courses that emphasize English and/or writing

The Dental Aptitude Test (DAT)

Most dental schools require that applicants take the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT). The DAT is administered by computer at Prometric Testing Centers and students can register for the DAT through the American Dental Association’s (ADA) website. The test is usually taken Spring semester, junior year and covers four areas of study: 1) a survey of natural sciences (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry); 2) reading comprehension; 3) quantitative ability; and 4) perceptual ability. Note that physics is not covered on the DAT. In the future, a section may be added to assess critical thinking skills.

Students can prepare for the DAT in a variety of ways, including taking a test preparatory course or by purchasing study materials individually. Students can be successful using either strategy, so you should weigh your personal needs when deciding on an approach. Visit our DAT page for more information.

The Application Process

Primary Applications

The application process for dental schools begins the summer of the year before the year of entry. For example, to enter dental school in fall 2009, you would apply the summer of 2008. Most dental schools belong to the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). Those applying to member AADSAS schools do so online.

Many schools have rolling admission policies, which means that they will review applications on an ongoing basis, as submitted. Applicants who submit materials well before the deadlines may receive earlier interviews and consideration for admission! For early consideration, it is advisable to complete your primary application by July 4th.

Secondary Applications

If a school remains interested in you, after reviewing your primary application, they will send you secondary applications specific to that school. Secondary applications typically include additional essays and an application fee for the school. These are not usually due until winter. You should, however, plan to submit the secondary application as soon as possible to secure an interview.

Extracurricular Activities

Dental schools want to be sure that applicants have a genuine understanding of the dental profession and dedication to the dental field. As a result, you should develop a mentor relationship with a dental professional and establish a consistent record of volunteer work or service to dental health programs. Actively participating in student groups can also prove invaluable. These experiences can be arranged following consultation with the pre-dental advisor.

American Student Dental Association (ASDA) Resources

Dental Exploration Programs

Rutger’s University’s Gateway to Dentistry: A Predental School Experience, is designed to introduce undergraduate students to the wide range of career options associated with the dental profession.

University of Maryland, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, Dental School’s Dentistry Today is a program designed for college students in their first, second, or third year of college who are considering dentistry as a career. The program allows participants to learn about the dental profession, dental education, dental specialties and the wide range of career options available within dentistry.

Pre-Dental Enhancement Programs

Dental Practices in Baltimore

Dr Lee’s Family Dental Center
7 W 21st St, Baltimore, MD (410) 727-3744

Total Health Care Inc
2400 Kirk Ave, Baltimore, MD (410) 338-6940

Ballar Dental Clinic: Pidlaoan Magdalena DDS
2507 Saint Paul St, Baltimore, MD (410) 243-3111

Spectrum Dental: Collier Katherine DDS
200 E 33rd St, Baltimore, MD (410) 235-0062

Baltimore Medical Clinic
3 W 27th St, Baltimore, MD (410) 467-0089

University of Maryland Dental School
650 W Baltimore St # 4, Baltimore, MD (410) 706-7101

Thomas W. Campbell D.D.S. and Associates
201 East Baltimore St #130, Baltimore, MD (410) 539-7006

K. Michael Murphy DDS and Associates
Suite112, 3900 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD (410) 235-1233

Welzel Alexandra DMD, K. Michael Murphy DDS and Associates
3900 N. Charles St., #112, Baltimore, MD (410) 235-1233

Parker Therapeutic Services
26 W 25th St, Baltimore, MD (410) 800-4480

Yung S Cha Family Dentistry
5708 Bellona Ave, Baltimore, MD (410) 323-2875

Vo Katherine DDS
2 Hamill Rd, Baltimore, MD (410) 433-1583

Boston Street Dentistry
2400 Boston St # 116, Baltimore, MD (410) 276-4455

Horner R Mark DDS
3106 Beverly Rd, Baltimore, MD (410) 254-4110

Warson Robert DDS
251 S Clinton St, Baltimore, MD (410) 563-8740

Kool Smiles Breggs Patrice D DDS Asomani Kwame M DDS
2429 Frederick Ave, Baltimore, MD (443) 957-1615

Kharma Dental
2110 Ashton St, Baltimore, MD (443) 846-1929

Wilkens Avenue Dental: Englander Richard DDS
1926 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD (410) 233-7852

Warson Robert DDS
251 S Clinton St, Baltimore, MD (410) 563-8740

Greenberg Louis P DDS & Hilda
111 Hamlet Hill Rd, Baltimore, MD (410) 433-8089

Drayton B E DDS PA
4403 Moravia Rd, Baltimore, MD (410) 485-4403

Good Samaritan Dental & Surgical Assoc
5601 Loch Raven Blvd, Baltimore, MD (410) 532-4900

Ernest J Colvin & Associates
4413 Park Heights Ave, Baltimore, MD (410) 664-1900

Gallup John Y DDS
5601 Loch Raven Blvd, Baltimore, MD (410) 532-4900