Explore: Dentistry

What is a Doctor of Dental Medicine/Surgery?

Dentists are concerned with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of problems associated with the hard and soft tissue of the mouth. They examine teeth, mouth, and associated tissues, diagnose and treat diseases, restore defective teeth and tissue, and replace missing teeth. Most dental students enter a practice after receiving their professional degree, either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.). The two degrees are equivalent in terms of the program completed and the rights conferred to practice. Most dentists are self-employed and establish a private practice alone or in partnership with other dentists. Employment opportunities also exist in the public health service, as teachers and researchers in dental education, commissioned officers in the armed services and researchers or practitioners in industry. In addition, some dentists enter advanced education programs for training in a dental specialty.


The D.M.D. / D.D.S. dental school curriculum requires at least 11 academic semesters over four calendar years. The curriculum initially emphasizes the basic sciences with an expanding emphasis on the clinical sciences. The student's knowledge and familiarity with the basic sciences is reinforced with applied courses in each discipline.  Dental specialties require additional training after the D.D.S. or D.M.D.

Admissions Requirements

Typically, programs expect a BA or BS with the following undergraduate curriculum:

Number Course UNH Course
1 year Biology with lab BIOL 411-412
1 year Chemistry with lab CHEM 403-404
1 year Physics with lab PHYS 401-402 or PHYS 407-408
1 year Organic Chemistry

CHEM 651-654 or CHEM 547-550

1 semester Biochemistry BMCB 658/659
1 year English  
1 semester Math - Calculus

MATH 424A, 424B, or 425

1 semester Math - Statistics

BIOL 528, SOC 502, PSYC 402

1 semester Health Professions Seminar

INCO 403 (2 cr)

An applicant’s undergraduate major is not a factor in dental school admission, so students may complete these prerequisites as major requirements, discovery requirements, or as electives.  Admissions requirements do vary somewhat from school to school, so students should consult the Official Guide to Dental Schools directory, at www.adea.org/, to determine the specific requirements of the programs that they are interested in.

Observing in the office of a general dentist is the best way to learn about dentistry, and the Student Admissions and Recruitment Committee of the America Dental Education Association (ADEA) recommends that applicants make arrangements to observe in the offices of one or more general dentists. While observing in a dentist's office is not always a requirement for admission, it is seen by the admissions committee as one measure of an applicant's interest in dentistry as a career.

All dental programs require that applicants take the Dental Admission Test (DAT).  All applicants for admission must have taken the DAT within three years of application.

Application Process 

The application process for UNH students applying to dental programs begins a full two years before matriculation.  Therefore, a student who wishes to begin a program the fall after graduation from UNH should to contact the Pre-Professional Health Programs Advising office no later than September of their junior year to begin the process. For details of the application cycle see: Application Process.

Further Information 

A valuable source of information is the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). Contact them at:

American Dental Education Association
1625 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Suite 600
Washington,DC 20036-2212
Tel: 202-667-9433
Fax: 202-667-0642


Additional Information:


Sources: Most of the information on this page was taken from ADEA literature.