Becoming a Dentist is a highly sought-after Career

One of our most frequently asked questions from patients who visit us is, “How does someone become a Dentist?” In this article, we are going to take you step-by-step on the process of becoming a Dentist. Let’s get started!

 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Dentist?

The process of becoming a Dentist is much more competitive than in years past and requires a specific set of qualifications during high school and college to be eligible for entry into Dental school. Overall, after completion of high school, students need a 4-year college bachelor’s degree plus a 4-year graduate Dental School degree, totaling 8 years. 

However, this does not include any additional schooling for specialty dentists such as Endodontists, Orthodontists, Periodontists, Pediatrics, Prosthodontists, or Oral Surgeons. These students require either another degree, a residency, or both which can range from 2 – 6 years depending on the specialization they have chosen.

Many dental school graduates also choose to continue their education through AEGD (Advanced Education in General Dentistry) or GPR (General Practice Residency) programs. These typically last one year and are designed for postdoctoral clinical training as an advanced supplement to the predoctoral dental curriculum. Both program types award a postgraduate certificate upon graduation. 

For specifics on each specialty or additional education, please visit the American Dental Association’s Education center here.

Overall, becoming a Dentist will take anywhere from 8 to 14 years depending on the type of dentist a student wishes to become. 

What Do I Need to Major in to Become a Dentist?

Students can major in a variety of fields and be accepted into dental school. However, most dental school admissions require taking prerequisite courses related to the field of biology, physiology, and chemistry. This ensures the student has an accurate baseline of information to prepare them for dental school courses. You can find specific course requirements for each dental school on their website to ensure you are on the right track. 

For example, at ECU School of Dental Medicine in Greenville, NC they require a minimum of one year (8 semester hours) of biology, organic chemistry, general chemistry, & physics with 6 semester hours of English and mathematics courses from a 4-year accredited US college or university. 

In most cases, pre-dental students major in biology or chemistry. However, there have also been successful dental students who have majored in Business (helpful for starting your own practice after dental school), Medical Textiles (great if you plan on developing dental products), or Engineering (physics and mathematics play an important role in dentistry).

 

What Other Requirements Do I Need to Become a Dentist? 

Score High on Your Dental Admissions Test

Other than your course prerequisites and a high GPA, you will need to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). This is similar to the MCAT for Medical School entry. The test has four sections: Perceptual Ability, Quantitative Reasoning, Survey of the Natural Sciences, and Reading Comprehension. 

DAT scores range from 1-30, with 17 being the average. To be considered a competitive applicant for dental school, an Academic Average (AA) of 19-20 is desirable. This number can fluctuate from school to school but statistics on average acceptance scores can be found on each dental school’s website.

Obtain Letters of Evaluation 

Another requirement for dental school entry will be letters of recommendation or evaluation. At most 4-year colleges, a pre-health or pre-dental committee can help you with a committee letter. Otherwise, you will need to submit 4 letters: 2 from science professors, 1 from an academic advisor, and 1 from a dentist. Read more about letters of evaluation on the ADA website here

Acquire Dental Volunteer or Shadowing Hours

Most dental schools require applicants to have some form of dental shadowing. This shows that the applicant understands the career they will potentially be joining. It is also extremely helpful to shadow the profession early on to truly grasp if this is the right career for you. Most dental schools require at least 100 hours of dental shadowing. 

Typically you can contact a dental office directly to request to shadow a dentist. You can also join your pre-dental or pre-health club and volunteer at local dental clinics. For instance, in North Carolina, there is a Volunteer Dental Clinic called NC Missions of Mercy (MOM) that holds events throughout the state. 

If you would like to shadow one of our dentists at Lane & Associates, please email us at [email protected] and our clinical team will be in touch!

A great resource for applying to dental school is the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools. Click the image below to learn more!

ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools 2021 2022

 

How Long is Dental School?

Dental school is a 4-year doctorate program. There are also options to continue your education if you choose to specialize in a field. These specialties can be Orthodontics, Oral Surgery, Endodontics, Pedodontics, or Periodontics. Please read the section, ‘How Long Does it Take to Become a Dentist?’ above to learn more!

 

How Much Do Dentists Make?

The salary for general dentists varies significantly. This can be based on the experience of the dentist, the type of dentist, and the needs of their patients. The typical salary of a General Dentist can range anywhere from $128,000 – $221,000 per year with an average of $170,000 in 2021. 

For specialists such as Orthodontists, their salary can range from $259,000 to $372,000 with an average of $292,000 per year. This salary can also be much higher depending on the number of cases and types of malocclusions they are treating. 

What is the Highest-Paid Type of Dentist?

Typically the highest-paid type of dentist is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (OMFS). This is the dentist whose job is the most invasive of all dentists. Typically Oral surgeons use sedation options to remove wisdom teeth, place dental implants, perform bone grafts, and much more. They go through rigorous training and education well past many of their colleagues due to these advanced medical procedures. Therefore, the typical salary for an Oral Surgeon can range anywhere from $250,000 to $400,000 per year (or more). Usually, the average salary for an Oral Surgeon is around $310,000 per year. 

 

Learn More About Our Dentists

Ready to learn more? Visit our dentists’ page and scroll through their biographies to learn what it takes to become a dentist! Looking to schedule with one of our dentists? Request an appointment online with our dentists today!

It’s National Get Organized Month, and one way we love to organize is by planning out our health goals for the year. Are you creating vision boards and looking for healthy habits to start in 2021? We’ve got a list of 7 Healthy Habits to Start in 2021, read more below!

1. Brushing 2x per day for 2 minutes.

Of course, as dental professionals you know we had to start with the obvious. Our first healthy habit to start in 2021 is Brushing twice daily for 2 minutes and flossing at least once per day (if not more!). This sounds repetitive but we’re serious, brushing for two minutes is longer than you think! Our suggestion, find your favorite 2-minute long song and play it while you brush. This will help you to keep on track and to realize just how long 2 minutes of brushing really is! 

2. Getting Active for at least 30 minutes Daily.

We don’t mean doing sprints and hurdles for 30 minutes (unless you’re into that sort of thing) but simply taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood or even during your lunch break. It’s amazing what a small habit change like this can do to your overall health.

girl drinking water

3. Choosing Water First.

And we mean it too! Before you go for that cup of morning joe, grab some water first. This will help start your engines and create a less acidic environment for your gut. Water has so many benefits for your body: teeth, skin, hair, nails… this list could go on and on. So during 2021, think to yourself, “Choose water first” before diving into the same soda or sweet tea throughout the week. It will definitely be a habit to continue!

4. Getting the Sunshine Vitamin.

Sunlight, fresh air, and Vitamin D are a combination as old as time. They are so beneficial for your mental and physical health. According to Healthline, Vitamin D has three key benefits: improving resistance to certain diseases, fighting depression, and improving overall bone and teeth health. Whether you get your Vitamin D from walks outdoors or through supplements, this is a healthy habit to continue into 2021.

5. Putting down the Devices 30 Minutes Before Bed.

This is a healthy habit that many of us should be adopting ASAP. Studies show that your brain has a hard time winding down before bed if you have an electronic device in front of you (due to less production of melatonin). So turning off your devices 30 minutes before your ideal sleep time is a must. Our suggestion? Read a book that’s not too captivating or turn on some sleep sounds. Zzzzz

tracking steps outdoors

6. Giving Yourself Step Goals.

One of the best investments in your health in 2021 is tracking your steps via a fitness watch. Don’t have a fitness watch? You can also track your steps using your phone’s Health app. It may not track every step but it will at least track the steps you take with your phone. Giving yourself a step goal is one easy way to increase your movement throughout 2021. Start with a lower step goal and change out your daily goal once every month. If you use fitness watches, you can also join challenges within the app itself which are really fun if you have any sort of competitive spirit. 

7. Planning Out Your Meals Each Week.

This one is relatively self-explanatory but really goes a long way to stay consistent with any dietary or budgeting goals you’ve set for yourself or your family. Investing in a planner (whether that be digital or physical) and listing out meal options for the week + a grocery shopping list will create a balanced week. Plus, you won’t have to do the “What do you want to eat? No, what do YOU want to eat?” battle. Win-win! 

 

We hope these 7 Healthy Habits to Start in 2021 give you plenty of ideas for your own health journey & can lead you towards a healthier future. If you’re searching for more ways to improve your dental health, read our blog about Calcium & all of its amazing benefits or schedule an appointment with us today! At Lane & Associates Family Dentistry, we love to make you smile!

We’ve all been there. You sit down for your dental appointment, ready and prepared for a filling or crown, and then…the blood pressure cuff comes out. And we think, “What’s this for?” Read along as we get answers on why your dentists and dental hygienists check your blood pressure at your dental appointment.

Why did they take my blood pressure at the dentist?

There are many reasons why the dentist or assistant may need to check your blood pressure at your appointment. This can range from establishing your baseline to alerts in hypertension to measuring your anxiety levels. Namely, your blood pressure is key to understanding your overall health at the time of your appointment. 

This is especially important since many Americans see their dentist more often than their physician at every 6-month cleaning. It’s a crucial health check and an opportunity to understand the changes in your overall health.

Can dental problems cause high blood pressure?

As humans, our bodies react differently when we are in pain or experiencing high anxiety. If you have high blood pressure, your dentist may need to adjust your treatment plan. Once determined, your dentist can make a better customized treatment plan for your specific needs. 

For example, some dentists may be able to offer light sedation options for those patients who have high anxiety which is causing their blood pressure to rise. Additionally, patients who are in pain from a tooth that needs to be extracted will see a drop in their blood pressure after that painful tooth has been removed. 

In extremely hypertensive situations, however, you may be asked to visit your primary care physician to discuss ways to reduce your blood pressure before beginning any dental care treatment.

closeup on dental tray during treatment

What blood pressure is too high for dental treatment?

Obviously this range is going to depend on many factors. The type of procedure, whether or not you are currently taking blood pressure medications, and many other health history factors. Typically, however, high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 or above. Also, if your top number (systolic) is greater than 140 or your bottom number (diastolic) is greater than 90, you may have high blood pressure no matter what the other number reads. 

If you are suffering from hypertension, your physician can determine the best course of action. This may include blood pressure medication or lifestyle changes. Many dentists and oral surgeons will also require medical approval from your cardiologist or physician before they will operate. 

Can I refuse to have my blood pressure taken at the dentist?

Ultimately, your blood pressure allows dentists and hygienists to know that you are healthy enough to endure the treatment. It also gives them an indication as to which form of anesthetic to use (for example, anesthetics without epinephrine). By refusing, you are consequently putting your own health at risk and your dentist will most likely refuse to proceed. Taking your oral health seriously is important to your overall health and well-being. 

Taking the time to check these key health measures is an incredibly important step in your dental treatment.

Start your treatment today!

At Lane & Associates Family Dentistry, we not only check your blood pressure, but also offer oral cancer screenings, oxygen level checks, and pulse checks. The combination of these factors & our many other services, let’s us know how best to treat our patients and make their experience with us truly one that makes them smile. If you are looking for a dentist that takes your overall health seriously, contact us today

Even though many of our offices are temporarily closed, our company is rallying together to give back to our communities during this time of need.

We know many emergency and healthcare systems are remaining open during this time to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and they are continuing to care for other necessary procedures.

In light of this, many of our talented employees have started creating masks for healthcare workers due to the shortages across the world. We have enlisted their help and have started creating kits for each of our employees that they can work on at home during this social distancing period. We are beginning with 870 masks and hope to continue making more! Once the masks are ready, our staff is working with the UNC Health Care system to drop off these masks to those hospitals and medical facilities in need.

girl cutting out cotton pieces of fabric for face masks
Our marketing team creating face mask kits to send to our staff.

 

LAA staff sewing medical masks
LAA Staff member sewing medical masks.

Lane & Associates loves North Carolina & we hope that our beautiful state can bounce back from this pandemic quickly. If you would like to help by donating masks of your own, please read below!

How to Make a Mask:

Contact us if you are interested in helping our teams by making masks at home with your family. We have a long list of North Carolina medical facilities that are in need of these masks and want to do as much as possible to help. Email us at [email protected] for more details on drop-off locations and deliveries.

We value & appreciate all of our community healthcare heroes! Thank you for all that you are giving & we hope this small act will help.

What you can expect from Lane & Associates Family Dentistry during the Flu & COVID-19 Pandemic

Originally published: March 12, 2020 | Updated: May 14, 2020

At Lane & Associates, we strive to uphold the highest level of care for our patients at all times. During every office visit, your health and safety are our highest priorities. With the recent Flu and Coronavirus (COVID-19), this year’s season has been particularly difficult which reinforces the need for all of us to be vigilant in the prevention of the spread of these diseases. 

How to Sew Surgical Masks for Medical Professionals | More COVID-19 Updates from Dr. Lane

Our offices follow all of the current recommendations for infection control and disease prevention published by the CDC(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), OSHA, and other significant organizations. 

As always, the most important priority at Lane & Associates is the safety and wellbeing of our patients and team members. In addition to our already rigorous daily sanitizing procedures, we will continue to go above and beyond these guidelines. We are increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of the lobby, dental exam chairs, equipment, bathrooms, and all other areas of our offices. At each of our locations, you will also find hand sanitizer next to the front desk. All patients are encouraged to wash their hands frequently during their visits for at least 20 seconds, as the CDC recommends.

New Policies & Procedures (as of May 2020):

  • As we begin to reopen our offices, you may see some changes during your next appointment.
  • Our office will communicate with you before your appointment to ask screening questions.
  • Before entering the building, we are offering curbside check-in and temperature screenings for all patients. All staff are also screened before entering the building each day.
  • You may see that our waiting rooms are closed or adjusted for social distancing measures. Furniture is further apart and all magazines/children’s toys have been removed (since these items are difficult to clean).
  • Appointments will be managed to allow for social distancing between patients. You may also be escorted into and out of the building.
  • All consent forms, treatment plans, and payments may be presented to you in the treatment room.
  • Hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations will be available for patient use.
  • We may ask you to wait in your car to reduce the number of patients in the reception area at any one time.

Lane and Associates dental staff screening patients taking temperatures

7 Health recommendations during this Flu & Virus Season: 

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, avoid close contact with others to prevent them from getting sick as well.
  2. If you are sick, please postpone any non-emergency or elective dental procedures until you are feeling well. If you are unsure, please call your home office to discuss your treatment with your dental provider. 
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you are coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  4. Wash your hands as set by the guidelines from the CDC. **See the Handwashing Instructions infographic below**
  5. Do not hoard medical masks or gloves as these are needed by healthcare professionals. Due to the high demand, the CDC does not recommend the general public buying these items but instead practicing everyday preventive actions, such as washing hands, covering your cough, and staying home when you are sick. 
  6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  7. Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, take care of your oral health, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Washing Your Hands the Right Way

One of the most important steps in preventing the spread of infection is to consistently wash your hands as set by the guidelines from the CDC. See our infographic below with step by step instructions on how to properly wash your hands. The basics to remember are to rinse with water first THEN lather on the soap. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and be sure to get underneath your fingernails and in between each finger. If you are wearing rings, either take these off before scrubbing or get underneath during your 20-second scrub. Rinse your hands with clean water once you’ve completed scrubbing. Remember, after rinsing – use the paper towel or one-use towel to turn off your sink.

How to Wash Your Hands:

Hand washing infographic

DOWNLOAD THIS INFOGRAPHIC

Watch this video from the CDC with FAQs about Handwashing:

Next Steps…

According to the American Dental Association, “Respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette infection control measures along with contact precautions are currently recommended for preventing transmission of COVID-19 and all flu-like illnesses in a dental healthcare setting.”If you currently have the flu or have had direct contact with anyone diagnosed with the Flu or the Coronavirus, or if you have recently traveled to an area where the Coronavirus is prevalent, please inform one of our team members.

All of our employees are well trained and given periodic updates on infection control policies and procedures to ensure that your visit and treatment at Lane & Associates is as safe and comfortable as possible. As always – we sincerely appreciate your trust in us to provide your dental care.

Have further questions? Contact our offices or email us at [email protected]