Dental Medicine

What does a dentist do?

Dentists perform a wide array of activities in their profession, such as “providing preventative care, delivering restorative procedures, eliminating pain or correcting dento-facial esthetics” (ADEA).

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) describes the responsibilities of a dentist as:

  • Evaluates the overall health of their patients while advising them about oral health and disease prevention.
  • Performs clinical procedures, such as exams, fillings, crowns, implants, extractions and corrective surgeries.
  • Identifies, diagnoses and treats oral conditions.
  • Performs general dentistry or practices in one of nine dental specialties.

Choosing This Field

When figuring out if this profession is right for you, make sure to explore various resources to inform you about careers in dental medicine, engage in self-reflection regularly, and seek out relevant clinical and service experiences.

The ADEA has a variety of resources to help prospective pre-dental students explore the field, including: Why Be a Dentist?, FAQs, What a Career in Dentistry Demands, and Common Personality Traits.

There are several different ways to use your degree to practice dental medicine, so it is important to explore those options as well before deciding on this career path. Explore the ADEA’s page about Career Options that gives information both about using your degree, practicing general dentistry, as well as possibly choosing a dental specialty.

You can also learn more on the American Dental Association‘s website, as well as the American Student Dental Association site.

What is the required preparation?

As a student completing an undergraduate degree, one will need to complete the prerequisite course requirements for admittance to dental school (see as well the Prerequisites listed by the ADEA). There is no required major for pre-dental students—people are welcome to explore their major options (see also the ADEA’s College Major page).

In addition to undergraduate preparation, applicants are also required to sit for the Dental Admission Test (DAT), a five-hour exam that tests on understanding of foundational concepts and big ideas from science coursework.

Applicants are also expected to have accumulated a certain number of clinical hours (direct patient care and shadowing experiences) and service hours (community service and volunteer work); make sure to watch one of our office’s group advising sessions for further information. Explore as well the ADEA’s resources for Preparing for Dental School and Tips for Preparing to Enter Dental School.

We strongly encourage you to reach out to our office to schedule a time to discuss preparation for dental school with our Pre-Dental Advisor.

Dental school training takes four years to complete. To understand the curriculum, visit the ADEA’s Dental School Curriculum page.

For information on the application process, visit the ADEA’s AADSAS page about the application to dental school.

Find a Program

To find dental schools, look at the ADEA’s Dental School Explorer and the Official Guide to Dental Schools.

If you want to know more about programs and opportunities through the university, visit the UConn School of Dental Medicine.

Talk to the Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Advising Office

Our office is here to support you as you explore health care pathways and careers! We welcome appointments to discuss your options with our pre-medical and pre-dental advisors. To schedule an appointment, visit our website.