Dentistry is devoted to maintaining the health of teeth, gums, and other hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity. A dentist is a scientist dedicated to the highest standards of health through prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral diseases and conditions.

Approximately 85 percent of dentists engage in general practice. The National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards (NCRDSCB) currently recognizes twelve specialties within dentistry—dental anesthesiology, dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, oral medicine, orofacial pain, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics. Becoming a recognized specialist usually requires from one to four years of additional training beyond the dental degree.

Dental school is four years in length for general practice. At the end of four years, a graduate earns a D.D.S., Doctor of Dental Surgery, or a D.M.D., Doctor of Dental Medicine. While there is a difference between the two degrees’ names, the education and degrees are the same.

Since each dental school may have slightly different admissions criteria, applicants should consult the requirements of each dental school to which they intend to apply. A complete listing of accredited schools and colleges of dentistry can be found through the ADEA.

The following courses are the basic requirements and must be completed before matriculation:*

  • One year (8 credit hours) of general chemistry with lab
  • One year (8 credit hours) of organic chemistry with lab
  • One year (8 credit hours) of physics with lab
  • Three semesters (9-13 credit hours) of biological science, some with lab
  • One year (6 credit hours) of English—many schools will accept English 1000 and a Writing Intensive course
  • One semester (3 credit hours) biochemistry
  • One semester (3-4 credit hours) physiology
  • One semester (3-4 credit hours) human anatomy

* See Plan of Study for MU course numbers.

The list of required courses provides the general minimum requirements for the schools to which MU students usually apply. Coursework in business and finance are also recommended, as well as such courses as jewelry making, pottery, floral design, and instrument instruction courses, to enhance an applicant’s manual dexterity.

Please Note: Dental schools differ on their acceptance of AP credit for science and non-science course work. Check with your advisor or the schools to which you are applying. Do not make assumptions.