- Dentists are licensed by the American Dental Association (ADA)teeth image by JASON WINTER from Fotolia.com
Dentists oversee cleanings, fill cavities, extract teeth and perform other basic procedures. Dentists are licensed by the American Dental Association (ADA) that sets forth all requirements, including educations requirements, for dentists in the US. As of 2010, Georgia does not specify education requirements in excess of the ADA requirements for new dentists but does require continuing education for practicing dentists.
- Students wishing to pursue a career in dentistry must first earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Theoretically, a degree in any major concentration is acceptable. However, extensive undergraduate coursework in the sciences is a prerequisite for most graduate dental programs, so many students opt to earn a Bachelor of Science in biology or chemistry. While the ADA does not actually require a minimum grade point average (GPA), most graduate dental programs do not accept students with a GPA below 3.0 in their major classes or below 2.0 overall. Some graduate programs set far higher GPA averages. After earning a bachelor's degree, students must also pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT).
- Graduate programs in dentistry lead to one of two degrees: a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) degree. Students determine which degree to pursue prior to entering dental school. The DDM track focuses on preventive dental medicine and common procedures like filling cavities. The DDS track prepares the student to focus on surgical procedures such as root canals. The first two years of the four-year program take place in a classroom or student laboratory setting. The final two years of graduate dentistry programs are spent gaining hands-on clinical experience. This program is typically called an "internship" or "residency" and can occur at a dental office or dental hospital. Fieldwork is supervised by a licensed, practicing dentist. Students must also pass the licensing examination set by the ADA.
- The State of Georgia implemented continuing education requirements for practicing dentists in 1992. As of 2010, dentists must take a minimum of 40 credit hours of qualifying continuing education every two years. All courses, seminars and conference learning segments offered by the ADA grant qualified continuing education units. Among the many course topics offered are detecting child abuse for dentists, sports dentistry, using technology, genetic risks of periodontal disease, listening skills and anesthesia. Georgia monitors compliance with the continuing education requirement through random audits performed by the State Dental Board.