How Many Years Does it take to become a Dentist?

(Last Updated On: February 15, 2016)

Dentists are a special group of heath care professionals and doctors whose primary job is to care for their patient’s oral health. This includes the teeth, gums, and the entire jaw which includes salivary glands, as well as the nerves and blood vessels in the mouth and neck areas. How many years does it take to become a dentist? How long does it take to become a dentist?

How long does it take to become a Dentist? How Many Years Does it take to become a Dentist?

How many years does it take to become a dentist? Usually, it takes about four years to complete a full-time training in Dentistry in a dental school. You may be required to have a bachelor’s degree in a science related course first before being offered admission into a School of Dentistry.

However, you may take less than four years to finish dental school if you already have a Doctorate degree in a relevant science field.

Once you become a graduate dentist, you then proceed to earn your license to practice as a licensed dentist. How long does it take to become a dentist?

Now you know the answer to the question: how many years does it take to become a dentist, don’t you? If you are interested in being a pharmacist instead, here is another post which provides all you need to know and provides answer to the question:  how long does it take to become a pharmacist?


Dentist Licensure or Certification

To earn your license to practice as a dentist, most states require that you graduate from a DDS or DMD program which is duly accredited by the American Dental Association Commission. You have to pass both written and clinical exams set up for dental licensure.

The written exam comprises two parts: Parts I and II which are set and supervised of the National Board Dental Examinations. However, the clinical examination is set and conducted at the state level. So, clinical examinations often vary from state to state.

How Much does a Dentist Earn?

Using the 2012 average income statistics as reference, the median yearly income for a dentist in the United States is about $149,300. Top 10 percent dentists in the US earn more than$187,200 while the lowest ten percent earned $73,840 in 2012. The highest paid specialized dentists are the oral and maxillofacial surgeons.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of dentists will skyrocket to about 16% between 2012 and 2020. The demand for dentists in the United States is much higher than for all other careers within that period of time.

In addition, your services are even likely to be in higher demand if you specialize in cosmetic dentistry. How many years does it take to become a dentist?

Long term career prospects for dentists

Working in a private practice offers remuneration. Private dentists tend to be more successful. So, if you have good business acumen and some capital for investment, you are better off setting up your own practice. You may choose to work for a few years in a government setting to raise funds and garner some experience before you delve into private practice.

Additionally, a dentist can choose to pursue additional training through post-doctoral and residency programs. That will give you the added advantage to become certified in a dental specialty. On the other hand, if you wish to offer general services in dentistry, you should still learn more about advanced techniques in your field to make you more relevant and up-to-date.

Currently, the American Dental Association approves up to nine specialties in which a dentist can specialize. These include:

  • Endodontics
  • Dental Public Health
  • Prosthondontics
  • Orthodontics
  • Periodontics
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics


There is a board for each of these specialties saddled with the certification, training, education and examinations of dentists who may wish to specialize in these areas.


How to Find a Job as a Dentist

Upon graduation from dentistry, you can pursue a dentist job which is called associateship. As a dental associate, you work with duly certified dentists, who usually own their private practice.

You can find vacant associate positions through dentist job boards such as that run by the American Dental Association, as well as through your dental school advertised positions.

In addition, you should also build a dependable network of professional contacts in your dental school. This will help you in the long run when you eventually qualify as a dentist.


Dentists are great doctors who do all it takes to relieve an achy tooth or jaw pain.  People are usually referred to see a dentist if they need to have their teeth fixed, fill minor/major cavities in their jaw, repair or remove a tooth. A dentist can also design and install dental implants such as dentures.

When it comes to providing dental care, a dentist may also go the extra mile to take X-rays of the jaw or tooth, apply anesthetic agents to relieve tooth pain and write prescriptions too when appropriate.

You may choose to be a general dentist and know a little about everything related to oral health or choose to specialize and know a lot about a limited area of dentistry. Specialty areas you can specialize in dentistry include Oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, orthodontics and public health.

How many years does it take to become a dentist? It takes roughly 4 years on the average.

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