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The Essential Dental School Prerequisites: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Nov 25, 2023


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Embarking on the journey to becoming a dentist is an exciting and rewarding endeavor. However, before diving into the world of dental school, there are essential prerequisites that aspiring dentists must fulfill. These prerequisite courses at your undergraduate institution not only serve as a foundation for success in dental school but also ensure that students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in their dental careers.


In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the essential dental school prerequisites covering all the required coursework for your dental school application for schools in the United States. This guide will provide you with invaluable insights to help you navigate the often complex path to dental school admission.


So, let's dive in and discover the key class requirements for admission to dental school that will set you on the path to becoming a successful dentist.


Biology Prerequisites for Dental School

Biology is a fundamental subject that forms the basis of many aspects of dentistry. Understanding the intricacies of the human body and its biological processes is essential for diagnosing and treating dental conditions. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that most dental schools require applicants to have a strong foundation in biology.


To meet the biology prerequisite requirement for most schools you will need to complete the following prerequisite coursework:

  • General Biology: 6 semester hours/credits (2 semester units)

  • General Biology with Lab: 1 semester hours/credits (1 semester unit)

  • Microbiology: 3 semester hours/credits (1 semester units)

  • Microbiology Lab: 1 semester hours/credits (1 semester units)

Chemistry prerequisites for dental school

Chemistry is another essential subject for aspiring dentists. It lays the foundation for understanding the chemical processes that occur in the oral cavity and the materials used in dentistry. Dental schools typically require applicants to have a strong background in both general chemistry and organic chemistry.


When fulfilling the chemistry prerequisites for dental school, aim to take courses such as general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. These courses will provide you with a solid understanding of chemical principles, reactions, and the structure and function of organic compounds.


To meet the chemistry prerequisite requirement for most schools you will need to complete the following prerequisite coursework:

  • General Chemistry: 6-7 semester hours/credits (2 semester units)

  • General Chemistry Lab: 1-2 semester hours/credits(1 semester unit)

  • Organic Chemistry 6 semester hours/credits (2 semester units)

  • Organic Chemistry Lab: 1-2 semester hours/credits (1 semester unit)

  • Biochemistry: 3 semester hours/credits (1 semester unit)

Physics prerequisites for dental school

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Physics may not be the first subject that comes to mind when thinking about dental school prerequisites. However, a solid foundation in physics is crucial for understanding the physical principles and forces that govern dental procedures and techniques.


Dental schools typically require applicants to have taken courses in general physics, which cover topics such as mechanics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism. These courses provide a solid foundation for understanding the physical properties of dental materials, the principles behind dental radiography, and the mechanics of tooth movement.


To meet the physics prerequisite requirement for most schools you will need to complete the following prerequisite coursework:

  • Physics: 6 semester hours/credits (2 semester units)

  • Physics lab: 2 semester hours/credits (2 semester units)

Math prerequisites for dental school

Mathematics is a subject that often goes hand in hand with science. A strong foundation in math is essential for understanding and applying scientific principles in dentistry.


Dental schools typically require applicants to have completed at least 1 semester of college mathematics, but requirements do vary. Some dental schools may require calculus while others prefer statistics. Many dental schools have no math pre-requisite classes. Be sure to check the requirements at the schools you plan to apply to!


To meet the math prerequisite requirement for most schools you will need to complete the following prerequisite coursework:

  • Mathematics: 3 semester hours/credits (1 semester unit)

English prerequisites for dental school

Strong communication skills are essential for dentists, as they interact with patients, colleagues, and other healthcare professionals on a daily basis. Therefore, dental schools often require applicants to have a strong foundation in English.


Also, one of your roles as a dentist will be to keep up with the latest dental literature and research. This is one reason reading comprehension is a portion of the DAT.


Some examples of English courses that may fulfill your requirements include:

  • Freshman writing seminars

  • Speech composition

  • Business writing

  • Technical writing

  • Other writing-intensive courses

*Note: Most dental schools will not accept ESL (English as a Second Language) courses to fulfill this requirement.


To meet the English prerequisite requirement for most schools you will need to complete the following courses:

  • English: 6 credits (2 semesters)

Additional recommended prerequisites for dental school

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While the aforementioned prerequisites are typically required by nearly all dental schools, there are additional courses that are required at certain schools and can further enhance your application and prepare you for the rigors of dental school.


Other potential dental school prerequisite classes include:

  • Psychology

  • Human Anatomy with Lab

  • Physiology

Minimum grade for dental prerequisite classes

Most schools will require that all prerequisite courses must have been completed with a minimum “C” grade.


Tips for fulfilling dental school prerequisites

Fulfilling the prerequisites for dental school can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, it is certainly achievable. Here are some tips to help you fulfill the dental school prerequisites:

  1. Plan ahead: Start researching the prerequisites for dental schools early on in your academic journey. This will give you ample time to plan your coursework and ensure that you fulfill all the necessary requirements.

  2. Consult with advisors: Reach out to academic advisors or pre-dental advisors who can provide guidance on the specific prerequisites for the dental schools you are interested in. They can help you create a course plan that meets the requirements while also aligning with your academic and career goals.

  3. Take advantage of resources: Utilize textbooks, online resources, and study guides to supplement your coursework. These resources can help you reinforce your understanding of the prerequisites and prepare you for the Dental Admission Test (DAT).

  4. Stay organized: Keep track of the prerequisites for each dental school you are interested in. Maintain a spreadsheet or checklist to ensure that you have fulfilled all the necessary requirements for each school.

  5. Stay focused and motivated: The path to dental school can be long and challenging, but staying focused and motivated will help you overcome any obstacles along the way. Remember why you chose dentistry as a career and let that drive you to excel in your coursework and extracurricular activities.

  6. Check which prerequisite classes you require: While this article covers most of the prerequisite classes you will need to complete for dental school, it is not comprehensive. Requirements do vary, so be sure to check the requirements at the schools you plan to apply to.

Conclusion

Fulfilling the prerequisites for dental school is a crucial step on the path to becoming a dentist. By completing the required coursework, you will not only gain a strong foundation for success in dental school but also demonstrate your commitment to the field.


Additionally, maintaining a competitive GPA will significantly enhance your chances of gaining admission to dental school. Remember, the journey to dental school may be challenging, but with determination, hard work, and a passion for dentistry, you can achieve your goal of becoming a successful dentist. Good luck!

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