General Dentistry: Overview

General dentistry is the course that every dentist has to take and pass to be able to practice. The entire course spans several years. If the individual wishes to have a subspecialty, then more years may be added to his studies. There are other aspects involved with it other than the treatment and prevention of diseases and disorders of the mouth.

Other parts of the jaw may be treated by the dental professional, including, the maxillofacial areas and other related parts. In some cases, the general health of the body may be connected to the health of the oral cavity of the person. There are two kinds of dentists, namely the Doctor of Dental Surgery and the Doctor of Dental Medicine.


There are certain requirements that an individual must possess to be able to proceed to general dentistry. The individual must pass a related four year course before he is able to apply for admittance to a dental college. This four year course, often called premed, should have certain subjects which are relevant to the primary course.

These subjects are microbiology, biology and chemistry. The individual who wishes to be a dentist should initially take an exam which will evaluate his candidacy. This exam is called the Dental Admission Test, which should be submitted to the dental college of choice along with the premed college course that the person has already taken. There are some cases where only a few subjects are needed for the individual to be accepted to the dental college.

General dentistry takes about four years to complete. Within this span of time, the students work on oral pathology, dental diagnosis and treatment as well as hone their clinical skills. There is an externship to be completed by the aspiring dentist on his fourth year. This externship is a rotation by nature, which means he will tackle the various aspects of his soon to be practice and not just focus on a subspecialty. The dental college has to be accredited by the American Dental Association.

After he graduates, the dentist has the option of taking up post graduate studies to hone his subspecialty skills. Most of the dental colleges in the United States of America offer programs for the post graduate which focus on orthodontics, pediatric dentistry as well as oral and maxillofacial surgery. These courses span two to six years, depending on what the program is.

Dental Board Exam

Those who have graduated from dental college can then take the National Board Dental Examination. This exam assesses and evaluates the knowledge that the aspiring dentist has gained while in the dental college. Some individuals take this during the latter part of their externship or prior to this. Others prefer to take the board exam after the have graduated from general dentistry.

Each region or state also has a different licensure exam which has to be taken by the individual to be able to practice in that particular region or state. This is important because without this, the dentist cannot see patients. In addition current dentists may be required by some regions or states to take up continuing education courses prior to the renewal of their licenses.

Source by Abigail Aaronson

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