How to Become a Pediatric Dentist

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If you care about dental health and enjoy working with children, consider a career in pediatric dentistry. Pediatric dentists specialize in children’s oral health and dental care. This field offers you a chance to teach children about proper dental care at an early age and to prevent future cavities and gum disease. You can also correct childhood dental problems to assist the formation of healthy permanent teeth. The specialty requires additional years of study and training after receiving a dental doctorate. This guide will teach you about the necessary education and experience required to become a pediatric dentist.

Things You'll Need

  • Pediatric dentistry research
  • Bachelor of Science degree
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Medical Dentistry degree
  • Masters of Science degree in pediatric dentistry
  • State dental license exam
  • Pediatric dental residency
  • Position in a pediatric dental practice
  • Research the field of pediatric dentistry. Compile dental school brochures to learn about current pediatric dentistry programs. Ask for career advice from practicing pediatric dentists. Find out the typical services offered by pediatric dental practices. This information can help you make a decision to pursue a career in pediatric dentistry.

  • Earn a Bachelor of Science. No specific major is required for dental school. However, strong course work in biological sciences and math will best prepare you for the dental admissions test and a dental school curriculum. Typical majors of prospective dental students include biology, chemistry and physics. Some colleges offer pre-dental majors or an early dental school admission programs. Early dental school admission programs allow students to get accepted into dental school as early as their freshman undergraduate year and study a specialized pre-dental curriculum to earn a Bachelor of Science.

  • Graduate from dental school and earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) degree. The school you attend determines whether you are awarded a DDS or DMD degree. Both degrees require the same education and training and allow you to pursue a specialty in pediatric dentistry.

  • Get a Master of Science degree in pediatric dentistry. The Master of Science degree program allows you to receive the extra education and training you need to specialize in pediatric dentistry. Most Master of Science dental programs are three year terms.

  • Pass the dental license exam in your state. Check with your school and the state board of dentistry for information on the dental license exam. Take a preparation course to help you study for the license exam.

  • Apply for a pediatric dentistry residency. Research the highly rated residency programs in your state and apply for the ones that interest you. Pediatric dental residencies are two-year programs that train a recent dental school graduate in advanced diagnostic and surgical study and clinical work.

  • Find a position in a pediatric dental practice, clinic or hospital. Once you have a dental license, you can apply for a pediatric dentist position. Look for positions in private practices, clinics and hospitals based on your desired work environment.

Tips & Warnings

  • Work as an intern with a pediatric dentist during high school or college to prepare for dental school. Use college career resources to find dentists who offer internships. Contact pediatric dentists in the phone book and ask for opportunities to volunteer. This type of work will help you decide if you like pediatric dentistry and increase your chances of getting accepting into dental school.
  • Ask a pediatric dental professional who has knowledge of your interest and potential ability in dentistry to write a letter of recommendation for your application to dental school.
  • If your college does not offer pre-dental major, major in biology. A biology major offers the type of curriculum that prepares you for the dental admissions test and dental school.

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