Dentists diagnose and treat problems with a patient’s teeth, gums, and other parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.

Careers within dentistry are diverse and provide many opportunities for challenging and rewarding service. Most dentists are general practitioners, handling a variety of dental needs. Other dentists practice in any of nine specialty areas: 

  • Dental Public Health
  • Endodontics
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics

Admission requirements for dental school

From the time you begin college and your pre-dentistry pathway, you are assembling a complete universal application to apply to these professional schools. Dental schools will review your application holistically, and you can work with your advisors to provide a competitive application.

Experience in dentistry

It is expected by most Dental schools that candidates will exhibit a confirmed interest and motivation in a dental career by participating in career-related activities such as job shadowing, community service and other volunteer opportunities. You should demonstrate an interest in addressing health gaps or commitment to service and care for underserved communities to make yourself more desirable. Having strong career experiences and life accomplishments will allow you to validate your professionalism and maturity, which are strongly considered in the application process. Additionally, many dental schools require students to job shadow a dentist. Students are encouraged to obtain a minimum of 100 hours.

Other qualifications. Dentistry requires diagnostic ability and manual skills. You should have good visual memory; excellent judgment regarding space, shape and color; a high degree of manual dexterity; and scientific ability.

College major

You are not required to select a particular major in order to be eligible for admission to a dental program. In selecting a college major, consider how you will satisfactorily complete the prerequisite courses for your designated dental program in addition to the college/university's degree and major requirements.  Work with your academic and/or pre-dental advisor to plan your course schedule.

You have the option to choose from a wide variety of undergraduate majors to prepare you for a dental program. Suggested undergraduate majors include Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Neuroscience.


Most programs look for a minimum undergraduate cumulative 3.0 GPA but the average GPA for matriculates is a 3.5 cumulative and a 3.4 in the sciences. Keep in mind these numbers are averages and various schools can have their own averages that are higher or lower. Also, these averages are climbing higher each year and admission to dental schools is more competitive than ever. Be sure you take your studies seriously and put in the proper time for reading, studying, and review for each course.

Job outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data regarding careers in dentistry can be found here.