General Dentistry - Advanced Programs

Advanced programs in general dentistry are designed to provide dentists with additional training in clinical skills. Explore some of the areas of study available through advanced general dentistry programs, such as pediatric dentistry. Find out how advanced programs work, and check the employment outlook and salary potential for dentists.

Is an Advanced Program in General Dentistry for Me?

Overview of Programs

Advanced education programs in general dentistry are postdoctoral residency programs for dentists. These programs give dentists the opportunity to expand their knowledge and clinical abilities. As a student in an advanced program, you focus on diagnosing conditions, designing treatment and providing overall care for all patients, including the young and those with special needs. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), advanced programs are additional training programs, rather than a continuation of dental school (www.ada.org).

You must have completed a dental degree program to enter an advanced program in general dentistry. Some programs require that you possess a state license or have applied for a license before starting the program.

In 2010, over one-third of dental graduates surveyed by the ADA planned to enroll in an advanced dental education program. The ADA also reported that the number of dentists entering advanced dentistry programs increased about 11.5% from 2003-2009.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), general dentists earned a median yearly salary of $146,340 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicted a 16% job growth for dentists overall during the 2012-2022 decade. Most dentists operate in private practice, but some dentists work in hospitals or physician's offices.

How Do I Enter an Advanced Program in General Dentistry?

Prerequisite Education

You must first complete a 4-year dental program to fulfill dental education requirements to become a dentist. You'll likely need to earn a bachelor's degree in a pre-dental subject, such as biology or chemistry, although it's possible to complete your bachelor's degree during dental school. Upon graduating from dental school, you receive a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree or a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree.

Licensing

You need to become a licensed dentist to practice any type of dentistry. You must possess a degree from an accredited dental program and successfully complete testing requirements to qualify for a license in most states. Some states might require additional education and training for licensing.

Advanced Education Programs

Advanced general dentistry programs are competitive. The admissions process may require that you attend an interview, provide letters of recommendation and demonstrate work experience.

Most advanced education programs in general dentistry are 1-2 year programs and are offered by dental schools and hospitals. A 2-year program may allow you to engage in research during your second year. You spend at least 80% of your time learning about advanced clinical care. The remainder of the time, you take courses, including lectures and workshops. Advanced programs in general dentistry may include clinical rotations in oral surgery, geriatric dentistry, periodontics and pediatric dentistry.

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