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Thinking About Dental School?
Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.
--Definition from the Bureau of Labor Statistics homepage.
KU students can take classes and get health care experience to meet entry requirements to graduate-level dentistry programs at other colleges and universities.
The closest Dentistry Program is at University of Missouri - KC (UMKC). Most application suggestions on this site will be based off their preferences.
Before applying to Dentistry programs, always check for differing requirements.
--Definition from Explore Health Careers homepage.
Dental School at a Glance
Track or Major?
PreDentistry is a track made up of pre-admission courses you complete along with a major of your choice. This prepares you for admission into a Dentistry Doctoral program.
- track hours to complete: 42-61, depending on which School of Dentistry
- time to compete: PreDentistry pre-requisite courses and Bachelors Degree of your choice (4 years), plus 4 years in a School of Dentistry
Level of degree - Doctoral
Does KU have a program?
No. Students can complete all of their pre-dentistry track requirements and accompanying major at KU. However, KU does not offer the Doctoral degree program. The closest Dentistry program is located at Univeristy of Missouri - Kansas City. KU can prepare you for the DDS or DMD program of your choice.
Quick Tip: If you have specific questions related to courses, contact your academic advisor. Exploring students and pre-professional students may meet with an advisor in the Undergraduate Advising Center.
- Register for the DAT - Dental Admission Test, a computerized assessment; schedule it for a time that suits your preparation and application cycle needs.
- Ideally, you will want to take the DAT by June 1st in the summer between your Junior and Senior year; if needed, you can retake it after 90 days.
- Evaluation Letters are required for the AADSAS; letters are sent through the AADSAS, be sure to give your writers an August 1st deadline for submission.
- Complete supplemental applications ideally by August 1st.
- A resume will be required.
- Most schools begin their interview process in August or September.
- Observations and work in a dental office is strongly encouraged.
- Strong candidates also must demonstrate a committment to social service; volunteering is always great!
- Research projects are encouraged.
- Keep a log about your hours, activities and thoughts about the dentistry profession for your application and interview.
Gain Experience Before You Apply!
The UMKC School of Dentistry suggests candidates observe for a minimum of 100 hours in at least five different dental offices, and they give preference to candidates who have worked in a dental office. In addition to shadowing/observing, it is important to consider research opportunities, volunteering, service learning, part-time jobs, and internships that will boost your application.
Explore jobs & internships
Connect with alumni
Also, consider the following:
Is your decision to enter the profession well-informed? Interviewing, shadowing and working with physicians will help you decide whether or not you truly want to join the profession. Ask professionals how they started, what they do, what they like about their jobs, what they dislike about their jobs, and what advice they have for someone interested in pursuing this career. It's good to talk with dentists you plan to shadow to figure out the best way to sample and understand what they do. You can learn a lot in 10-20 hours. Occasionally, shadowing grows into a longer-term mentoring connection.
HIPAA regulations, liability concerns and patient comfort issues make it challenging to shadow dentists; however, it is possible. Most people begin by interviewing their personal dentists or using friend and family networks to arrange informational interviews and shadowing experiences. Some people try cold calling/e-mailing a list of dentists. People with last names later in the alphabet and in less well-known specialties won’t get asked as often and might be more open to shadowing. Similarly, dentists in smaller towns outside of Lawrence may not get asked as often, and those in smaller practices in which they're more in charge may be more willing to allow you to shadow. It’s normal to ask a lot of dentists to find a few who will let you shadow.
There are many other ways to gain experience. The UMKC School of Dentistry has extended a standing invitation to shadow dental students in their clinic. To make a reservation, call 1-800-776-8652.
Quick tip: Be sure to send personal thank you cards to the physicians you shadow!
Part of dentistry is applied science, and it's helpful to know how this knowledge is developed. Working on a research project is also a good way to earn a substantial recommendation letter from a faculty member who knows you well. Most students volunteer their help, some earn directed study credit, and a few are paid for their assistance. To get involved, you can start at the Center for Undergraduate Research.
To get involved, you can start with the KU Center for Undergraduate Research. The next step is to find faculty, who're doing research you'd like to help with: