Due to its rigorous training and clinical practice requirements, a Doctor of Dental Medicine or D.M.D. program is not available 100% online. Some schools give you the option to complete your coursework without attending a class at the university. Online D.M.D programs tackle the theoretical and scientific side of the practice; a D.M.D. student is still required to fulfill practicum obligations.

Do you remember those anxious moments when you lost your baby tooth? Or, you are either angry or happy with the dentist when they needed to extract one. Later, though, you thank him for having a good set of teeth. When you earn a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree, you are responsible for the oral health of your patients and proficient in many advanced dental procedures.

What does a Doctor of Dental Medicine do?

A dentist is a medical practitioner who maintains oral health. Dentists diagnose the condition of the mouth, check for cavities and fractures, and remove harmful pathogens. Dentists emphasize that tooth and gum health is essential as the mouth is the gateway to the digestive system. Simply put, dental care benefits your overall health.

Aside from ensuring that patients enjoy the health benefits of dentistry, dentists are also concerned with aesthetics. They use braces and retainers to make your teeth look proportionate, use Amalgam (silver), composite plastic resins, or porcelain for fillings, and create sets of dentures for teeth loss due to age or injury.

Most importantly, dentists advise patients about the importance of avoiding chronic oral diseases. They remind patients about the right food to eat and the best practices, such as regular brushing, flossing and minimizing smoking to maintain oral health.

Dentists who hold a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree conduct actual clinical practice and are highly proficient in specialized dental procedures.

What sort of accreditation should I look for in a school?

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) organized by the American Dental Association (ADA) accredits all dental schools in the United States. CODA regulates the accreditation of both Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) and Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degrees.

How do I earn my D.M.D. degree?

Dental schools accept any 4-year bachelor graduate with prerequisite courses in Biology, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physics Laboratory training with natural science subjects are preferable. D.M.D programs in the United States also requires proficiency in English.

Once you have all these academic credentials, you can take the Dental Admission Test (DAT) sponsored by the American Dental Association. DAT is a computer-standardized test with a $460 non-refundable fee. Once you pass DAT, you can apply to any dental school in the US.  You can only take this exam thrice and wait for 90 days for another attempt if you fail.

Don’t get confused about choosing either a D.M.D or D.D.S degree. Both doctorate titles lead to a general practice in dentistry. Historically, “D.D.S” is the term used in dental schools, but some universities insist on using “D.M.D.” instead to highlight the role of dentistry in the medical field. Dental schools have the prerogative to award either the D.M.D or D.D.S degree.

D.M.D. programs last for a least four years or a total of 8 years for non-bachelor’s degree holders. Courses during the first two years include general and dental sciences. The next two years, or possibly the next few more, are allocated for specialization training. Aside from the required clinical hours, D.M.D. students also need to finish writing a thesis for submission in the final year.

Specialization in dentistry includes the following: pediatric dentistry, general dentistry, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontology, periodontology, cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, and preventive dental health. Choosing a field of specialization is crucial because it will determine your career path as a dentist. For instance, a general dentist cannot perform surgery; only “oral surgeons” who have in-depth training in maxillofacial surgery can.

What type of degree do I need to pursue research or educate others in Dentistry?

If you have a D.M.D. or D.D.S. degree, you can teach in dental schools. If you want to engage in dental research a bit further, we recommend taking a Ph.D. in Dentistry program. Your dissertation can contribute to the scientific community. You can also be a dental scholar who regularly contributes academic articles to various journals.

What kind of career and salary can I expect with my D.M.D. degree?

After graduating with a D.M.D. degree and passing the licensing exam, you are officially a dentist. You can either work in a large hospital or set up your clinic. You can also work along with medical doctors to treat dental injuries or become part of dental missions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dentists have an annual median salary of $158,120 per year. The wage varies on the location and experience of the dentist.

Do I need a license to be a dentist?

After earning your D.M.D. degree, you need to take the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) administered by the ADA Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE). NBDE may be taken in two parts. In some universities, students take the first part of the exam while in dental school.

Aside from getting licensed from NBDE, you may need to pass the clinical licensing examination governed by a state or regional clinical testing agency. This license depends on the state where you wish to continue your practice.

What schools offer Doctor of Dental Medicine degrees?

Most Doctor of Dental Medicine programs follow the didactic format, such as University of Alabama School of Dentistry at UAB in Birmingham, Alabama; Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in Glendale, Arizona; the Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine in Pomona, California; Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry in Portland, Oregon; and Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine in Alton, Illinois.

If you wish to study D.M.D. online, consider enrolling in the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. The university has online courses for Safe Opioid Prescribing.