To become a dentist, you need to be a graduate of a four-year college degree, preferably one that meets the academic requirements of the dental school of your choosing. After that, you have to pass a dental school admission exam before becoming a full-fledged dentistry student.
If you’re planning to enter dental school, regardless if you’re already done with your undergrad or not, preparing for dental school early on can put you at a more advantageous position. Hence, if you want to become a dentist, here’s what to expect from dental school:
You’ll be spending more time in the classroom for the first two years
In your first or second year of dental school, you won’t be tackling tooth implants or dealing with actual patients just yet. Instead, expect a lot of class and pre-clinical lab work. During this first couple of years, it’s most likely going to feel similar to your undergrad, which also serves as an excellent adjustment period.
Free time is much more scarce
Compared with other college courses, studying dentistry requires a lot more time. Expect long hours in the classroom and even longer hours of self-studying, homework, and learning sessions. Much like medical school, dental school can be crunching because, after all, you’re going to be dealing with people’s oral health.
With that in mind, it’s wise to live with other dentistry students. Not only can you help each other out with schoolwork, but they will also be more sympathetic when you ask them to keep the noise down or when you say you can’t go on a night out with them.
You need to brace yourself for clinical experience
When you hit your third year of dental school, that’s when clinicals come in. Instead of plastic teeth or your classmates’ teeth, you’ll finally be dealing with real patients. The fact that you’re poking in an actual patient’s mouth can be exciting and scary at the same time.
Moreover, during your first few times in the student clinic, you’re probably going to be surprised at how different it is treating plastic teeth to a real patient’s teeth–and with real dental problems at that. Thus, as you’re going through your first and second years, get the hang of treating your classmates’ teeth to help you prepare.
There are going to be a lot of difficult patients
During your dental school years and when you become a licensed dentist, you’re going to deal with difficult patients. Some patients come in late for their appointment and cause you to miss your break, while others continuously question everything you do with their mouths. There are a lot of difficulties that you will face in your journey, most of them caused by your patients, but that’s part of the job. And just like any other healthcare professional, patients should come first.
It’s no secret that dental school can be brutal, but if you want to become a dentist, you’re going to have to be prepared for the challenges. Luckily, knowing what to expect from dental school can give you an idea on how to tackle those obstacles when you finally become a dentistry student, so start preparing as early as now.