Overview of Field

A dentist is a health care professional who specializes in dentistry, the branch of medicine focused on the mouth. In the US, dentists hold a DMD or DDS degree that are completely equivalent.

Usual dental treatments include, but are not limited to:

  • Examinations, taking radiographs (x-rays) and diagnosis
  • Restorative procedures (dental restorations/fillings, crowns)
  • Prosthodontic procedures (removable complete or partial dentures, crown/bridge, dental implants)
  • Endodontic (root canal) therapy
  • Periodontal (gum) therapy
  • Oral surgery (extraction of teeth)

 Dentists can also prescribe medications such as antibiotics, fluorides, pain killers, local anesthetics, sedatives/hypnotics and any other medications that serve in the treatment of the various conditions that arise in the head and neck.

All DDS and DMD degree holders are legally qualified to perform a number of more complex procedures as well.

Career Exploration

Most dentists are general practitioners and handle a variety of dental needs. Other dentists practice in a specialty area that require postdoctoral training, such as dental anesthesiologists, dental public health specialists, Endodontists, oral and maxillofacial radiologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, oral pathologists, orthodontists, pediatric dentists, or periodontists. In addition to owning or co-owning their own practice, Dentists can be associated with hospitals, corporate health clinics, conducting research, or teaching, including supervising students in dental school clinics. Students interested in the field are heavily encouraged to job shadow/observe a general dentist; many programs have this as a requirement to apply.

Apply to Dentistry

The application timelines for dental schools vary, but application is typically made in May through December of the junior year and decisions are made in the late fall or early spring semesters of the senior year. Many schools use the centralized application service, ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) and others do not.

Applicants to dental schools usually take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Dental schools use this test along with other factors, such as grade point average, interviews, and recommendations, to admit students into their programs.

Pre-requisite Completion

The University of Louisville wants to support you with your career goals! Many of your required pre-requisites for your pre-health path can be completed right here at UofL in conjunction with your current academic program plan. Meet with your academic advisor for more information. In addition, consult the specific program you are applying to for pre-requisite requirements.

Most dental programs require that applicants have at least 90 semester hours, though many of students complete a bachelor’s degree. Most programs require that students complete certain science courses, such as biology, chemistry, or physics. Prerequisites can be earned at any accredited college.

Although no specific undergraduate major is usually required, programs may prefer applicants who have a bachelor's degree in a science, such as biology or chemistry. Check with the program in which you are interested to learn more about its specific academic requirements, course curriculum, and admission deadlines.

Entrance Exam

Suggested test preparation resources: UofL’s REACH center has partnered with The Princeton Review® to offer UofL students FREE DAT practice tests and test prep seminars as well as exclusive discounts on test prep materials and courses through The Princeton Review®.

For more information:

Getting Involved

UofL Student Involvement Recognized Student Organizations (RSO’s):

These student organizations are active as of Fall 2023. You can find all active student organizations by visiting engage.

National Organizations & Resources