What is a dentist?

  • A dentist is a doctor who focuses on the health of the teeth, gums and other tissues in and around the mouth.
  • Dentists can obtain a Doctor of Medical Dentistry (D.M.D.) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.).
  • See the ADEA GoDental Why be a dentist?

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Becoming a dentist

Other careers in the dental profession:

  1. Dental hygenist
  2. Dental assistant
  3. Lab technician
  4. Patient care counselor
  1. Obtain an undergraduate degree (4 years)
  2. Attend dental school and obtain a D.D.S. or D.M.D. (4 years)
  3. Take the National Board Dental Examinations and become licensed in the state you want to practice

After getting a D.M.D. or D.D.S, you can pursue a doctoral degree in Dental Science and go into one of nine specialties:

    • Endodontics
    • Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
    • Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology
    • Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology
    • Orthodontics
    • Pediatric Dentistry
    • Periodontics
    • Prosthodontics
    • Public Health Dentistry

Specialities require at least two additional years of schooling.

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Academic Preparation

Dental School Prerequisites at UC Davis

Most schools require:

  • General Chemistry (CHE 2ABC)
  • General Biology (BIS 2ABC)
  • Organic Chemistry (CHE 118ABC)
  • Physics (PHY 7ABC)
  • English Composition

Some schools require:

  • Biochemistry*
  • Microbiology*
  • Physiology (NPB 101)
  • Human Anatomy (EXB 106 &106L)
  • Psychology (PSC 1)
  • Math*

*Check your major requirements before choosing classes.

See the Dental School School Prerequisite Chart for a sample list of dental schools and their requirements.

  • You can choose any major and apply to dental schools. If you choose a non-science major, you still have to take the science prerequisites required by dental schools. 
  • HPA recommends that pre-dental students maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0, although many dental schools will have GPA averages above this minimum.
  • Each dental school has different prerequisites. Check each school's prerequisites before applying. 

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The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is...

  • required by all dental schools
  • over 4 hours long.
  • offered most days of the year. You can only take the test once every 90 days.
  • $430 each time you take it.
  • designed to test your ability in six areas:
    • Survey in Natural Sciences (40 Biology Questions, 30 General Chemistry, 30 Organic Chemistry Questions)
    • Reading Comprehension
    • Perceptual Ability
    • Quantitative Reasoning
  • HPA recommends that students take the following courses before taking the DAT:
    • BIS 2ABC
    • CHE 2ABC
    • CHE 118ABC
    • STA 13 or STA 100
    • NPB 101 or 110ABC

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Pre-Dental Student Organizations

Student organizations are a great way to obtain health experience and network with peers and professionals. Pre-dental clubs at UC Davis include:

Davis Pre-Dental Society

Global Dental Brigades at UC Davis

Operation Smile at UC Davis

Davis Spreading Smiles

Oral Health Society

Pre-Dental Experiences

What you do with your time helps define who you are in your application. Whatever you choose to do, be sure you are dedicated, passionate about it, and motivated to pursue it for the right reason!

Here are some good places to start looking for experiences at UC Davis:

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Applying to Dental School

Centralized Application: ADEA AADSAS
  • ADEA AADSAS opens in June for applicants who are planning to begin dental school the following year.
Personal Statement
  • You will have 4,500 characters (including spaces, carriages, numbers, letters, etc.) to explain why you want to be a dentist. See the ADEA'sTips for Writing a Personal Statement for Dental School.
  • The personal statement is your first chance to provide dental school admissions committees with subjective information about your qualifications and your reasons for choosing a particular career. In other words, the personal statement is your initial opportunity to present yourself as an interesting and unique applicant who deserves a closer look.
Letters of Recommendation
  • ADEA AADSAS allows you to submit four letters, but some dental schools might ask you to submit additional letters outside of AADSAS. According to the ADEA, most dental schools require two letters from science professors, one from an advisor and one from a dentist
  • Note: UC Davis does not conduct committee letters.
Supplemental Applications
Choosing Schools

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do dental schools prefer certain majors?

No. You can choose any major and apply to dental school as long as you complete the school prerequisites. Dental schools review applications holistically, and your major is just one small piece of your story.

What's the difference between a D.M.D. and a D.D.S.?

"The simple answer is nothing. Both D.D.S. and D.M.D. mean the same thing—the dentist graduated from an accredited dental school. The D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine) are the same degrees. D.D.S. and D.M.D. dentists both receive the same education and both degrees use the same curriculum requirements set by the American Dental Association (ADA). It’s up to each individual university to determine which degree is awarded."

- ADEA Go Dental

When should I start writing my personal statement?

The personal statement should be a reflective, well-polished document. You can create your first draft as soon as you want. The more time you give yourself to get feedback and revise the better. Health Professions Advising advisors are happy to read your essay and give you feedback, but please make the appointment at least a month before your deadline.

Please bring a printed draft of your personal statement to appointments and drop-in advising.