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Top 10: Most Historically Significant Dentists

Pierre Fauchard
Dentists have conquered some significant milestones - both within the dental discipline and on a greater global scale. Read on to see which dentists and their accomplishments made our cut on our list of the most historically significant dentists.

Top 10 Most Famous, Important, or Significant Dentists in History

1. Pierre Fauchard
Born in 1678, Pierre Fauchard is easily the most important modern dentist in history. This French physician is known as the "father of modern dentistry." In 1728, he wrote the influential The Surgeon Dentist in which he covered dental anatomy, pathology, operative dentistry, and even topics in periodontics and orthodontics. This was the first comprehensive scientific description of dentistry. Maintaining his legacy today, the Pierre Fauchard Academy is an international honor dental organization and is known widely for its leadership within dental circles worldwide.

2. Greene Vardiman Black
More often known as G.V. Black, this dentist (born in 1836) is known as the "father of operative dentistry." He also organized Black's Classification of Carious Lesions which is still used by dentists today (with the exception of one more Class added in more recent times: the Class VI). Known for his principles of tooth preparation, he coined the phrase "extension for prevention" which still carries weight today in the minds of general dentists. G.V. Black also perfected dental amalgam and investigated fluorosis.

The Black's Classification of Carious Lesions

3. Chapin Aaron Harris
This American dentist (born in 1806) aided in founding the world's first dental school in Baltimore, Maryland. Considered the "father of American dental science," Chapin Harris is essentially the founder of dental literature in the US.

4. John Henry "Doc" Holliday
Doc Holliday is better known as a gambler and gunfighter but was also a dentist. Born in 1851, Doc Holliday was an Old West gunslinger that history will remember for the ages. His involvement in the O.K. Corral Gunfight in 1881 is probably his most defining moment. He had obtained his D.D.S. from Philadelphia in 1872.

5. Edward Hartley Angle
Born in 1855, this American dentist is known as the "father of modern orthodontics." Edward dedicated his life to standardizing, teaching, and practicing orthodontics. Known for his Angles Classification which is still used widely today by both general dentists and orthodontists, he also coined the term 'malocclusion.' Angle went on to invent many appliances for orthodontic treatment and devised numerous surgical techniques.

6. William Thomas Green Morton
Born in 1819, Morton was an American dentist that first demonstrated the use of ether as a general anesthetic in conjunction with surgery in 1846. Thus, he is sometimes referred to as the "discoverer of anesthesia." After Morton conducted his first 'painless' tooth extraction using ether, another demonstration was arranged in a theater at Massachusetts General Hospital, which is now known as the famed 'Ether Dome.'

7. Horace Wells
Born in 1815, this American dentist is also famous in the field of anesthesia as well, and actually associated with Morton for a time. Unlike Morton, Wells was not famous for ether, but rather for his use of Nitrous Oxide. Wells also attempted to demonstrate his findings at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1845, but unfortunately administered Nitrous Oxide to his patient improperly and his attempted procedure failed. It took him another try later to prove that his findings were in fact true and to obtain honor from both the American Dental Association and the American Medical Association as the "discoverer of modern anesthesia."

8. Horace Henry Hayden
Yet another American dentist hits the list as a significant dentist. Hayden, born in 1769, is the architect of the American system of dental education and an organizer of professional dentistry. Hayden helped to establish the American Journal of Dental Science (the world's first dental journal). He started educating students about dentistry in 1819 when he delivered his first lectures to medical students at the University of Maryland.

9. Charles Stent
An English dentist, born in 1807, Stent actually perfected the dental impression material used for denture making during his time. Later, in 1916, a Dutch plastic surgeon used this material to support facial tissues as a form of facial reconstruction, and thus coining the term 'stents.' Today, although stents are made of newer materials, the term 'stent' is still used to describe materials used to hold open bodily structures such as cardiac vessels during angioplasties.

10*. Per-Ingvar Brånemark (Honorary Dentist)
The 10th spot on our list is reserved for Brånemark who is not actually a dentist, but rather a Swedish orthopedic surgeon. He certainly could be considered an honorary dentist though as he is considered to be the "father of modern dental implantology." Born in 1929, Brånemark studied osseointegration (the fusion of bone to foreign material) and came up with implant methods. Today, the Brånemark System of dental implants is still used and is currently available from a private dental manufacturer.

Thanks for reviewing this list of the Top 10 Most Historically Significant Dentists. Perhaps one of our readers will be inspired and motivated to contribute to our great profession and will make this list in the years to come!

FAQ: Tell Me About Yourself, And Does Volunteering or Greek Life Look Good?

"Spotlight FAQ" questions may be edited for privacy, length, and clarity.

Question: Anonymous on October 19, 2011 asked...
Which undergraduate degree did you graduate with? I understand that it honestly doesn't even matter. A lot of it prepares you for the DAT and dental schools, so I was wondering what your degree was. Also, does Greek Life look good? I know there are many stereotypes about it, but that's not why I joined. It is quite different than most people imagine.

Response: Top Ten Nation Writers replied...
Re: Impact of volunteering, Greek Life, or extra-curricular activity on dental admissions

I graduated with a BA in Sociology and a BS in Biological Sciences before going into dental school. It was a dual-degree program. With all honesty, I would say that the Sociology degree is just as relevant to my dental practice as my Biology degree. Remember, dentistry one day will mean dealing with people face-to-face everyday. That includes patients (kids, adults, and elders), your clinical and administrative staff (kids, adults, and elders), the specialists you refer to (kids... just kidding), and the labs that you deal with. People skills are certainly just as crucial as clinical skills. Looking back, I think any kind of administrative, business, accounting, or even engineering skills are a good fit with an astute dentist's skill set. Dental schools recognize this fact. They even recognize a Fine Art degree as being relevant, and why not? As long as the candidate has fulfilled the pre-requisite courses, they certainly know enough Biology and Chemistry and Sciences to be successful in dental school.

Back to your original question - Would volunteering or any sort of Greek Life look good? In general it can vary from school-to-school. First and foremost you have to get yourself an interview based on your grades and DAT score. Once the interview is obtained, if the interviewer(s) have personally experienced Greek Life or if he or she understands the values involved, I would imagine it would leave a positive impression. It certainly wouldn't have a negative impact. Regardless, for most dental schools, Greek Life or any sort of volunteering does not get you the interview; it is typically the grades and the DAT score, or more rarely, some exceptional circumstance which can make a candidate stand out. It is usually volunteering that connects with most interviewers, since most interviewers know what it involves. Research is typically the best extra-curricular to have on your resume. It has a top-tier 'return-on-investment' when it comes to being able to attract interviews and actually obtaining admission.
I hope this answer helps not only you, but every Top Ten Nation reader.

Spotlight FAQ's is an attempt to highlight interesting and relevant admissions questions for pre-dental students.

Top 10: Best Dental Schools in the US and Canada (Ranking) For 2011

Our readers, practicing dentists, and yes, even everyone here at Top Ten Nation agree that it is improper and unfair to rank dental schools. It is challenging to provide our readers ‘dental school rankings’ because every dental school provides similar education and each dental school has very unique characteristics. For this reason, this list remains debatable; however, our main intent is to provide an overview of which schools are the leaders in their missions and visions, and why they are unique. This ranking of the Top 10 Best Dental Schools involves the amalgamation of multiple metrics and rankings from media sources as well as institutional reports. Our primary intelligence is our student and faculty insiders at dental schools across the United States and Canada. All dental schools in the U.S., Canada, and Australia are ADA/CODA accredited, and therefore are excellent options, and the reader should note that that all dental students graduate with equivalent DDS or DMD degrees.

Top 10 Best Dental Schools in the US and Canada as of 2011

1. Harvard University, School of Dental Medicine (HSDM)
This year, the editors tipped in favor of the perennial favorite. A unique feature of the curriculum places pre-doctoral dental students in joint classes with medical students for two years of basic science and pathophysiology. Students at HSDM get an introduction to clinical medicine on the wards of Harvard's academic hospitals. Mentors at Harvard are world-renowned teachers and researchers. The educational experience allows graduates a relatively seamless transition to careers in academics, research, or clinical practice. HSDM students boast one of the highest rates of graduates entering post-graduate specialization programs. History bodes well on HSDM’s side. Harvard Dental is the first ever university-based and university-affiliated dental school in North America. Harvard is a world-class educational institution overall - leading most rankings across the world in broad categories. Harvard leads in integrating new discoveries from the laboratory to transforming such discoveries into a solid curriculum offered to their students. While research is its strength, clinical training is also keeping pace. What about the disadvantages at Harvard Dental? Some students dislike the problem based learning environment and the dental clinics are somewhat problematic for patients in terms of continuing care. HSDM also ranks as the 10th most expensive dental school.

2. University of the Pacific (UoP), Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry
A new arrival on our Top 10 List, UoP has always been a top dental school, but with few insiders in the years prior, we were unable to fully report on this top institution. This highly selective and highly rewarding institution is a pioneer in competency-based dental education. UoP Dental is currently the only dental school in the United States that hosts an accelerated three-year DDS program. Despite the three-year curriculum, pre-doctoral students here experience above-average clinical education hours, even in comparison to the traditional four-year programs. On the downside, UoP Dental is ranked as the 6th most expensive dental school. On the upside, sources boast that the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry has a pleasant family atmosphere and is consistently ranked as one of the top clinical dental schools in the United States. For more information about UoP, you can read our article on Top 10 Reasons to Attend UoP Dental.

3. University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMB), Baltimore College of Dental Surgery
UMB Dental (BCDS) boasts one of the most advanced dental education facilities in the world. Completed in October 2006, the brand new $142 million, 12-story building is situated in downtown Baltimore. This is the highest spent on an academic building by the State of Maryland. BCDS has the distinct history of being the first dental college in the world. This school is undoubtedly the pioneer of dental education. Founders Drs. Horace H. Hayden and Chapin A. Harris are the “fathers of dentistry.” Most dentists and dental students can recognize these tremendous players in the development of dentistry. Unique post-graduate programs such as experimental pathology to seven of the eight accredited post-graduate residency programs available are offered at this top-tier school. Many of these post-graduate programs have renowned faculty. BCDS researchers collaborate with colleagues from the School of Medicine, the Baltimore VA Medical Center, and the Johns Hopkins University. Overall, undergraduate dentistry here offers excellent faculty, a student population with a strong admission average, constant curriculum innovation, and a solid patient base.

4. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) Dental School
This relatively young dental school offers a world-class experience for its lucky pre-doctoral students. Faculty in this dental school developed the first digital panoramic x-ray device in the United States. In the last ranking of US News & World Report (1996), this school was ranked #1. A cooperative atmosphere contributes strongly to this dental school's excellence. Junior and senior off-campus clinical rotations enhance the students' exposure to the clinical world of dentistry. The General Practice Based Comprehensive Care Clinical Program uses the model of small group practices, and provides the opportunity for excellent, timely, and relevant training with a deep focus on in-depth patient care. The Dental School at the Health Science Center ranked fourth in publications and 11th in scientific impact among the world’s 760 dental schools from 1998 to 2002. Excellent training and in-depth exposure to advanced aspects of dentistry are sure-fire ways to have a dental school stand above the rest of the crowd.

5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), School of Dentistry
UNC Dental School consistently ranks among the nation’s top dental schools and is renowned for its excellent teaching, research, and public service activities. This dental school is one of the top dental schools in the nation due to its strong performance across most benchmarks. State funding, along with university and private support are making possible a new 216,000-square-foot Dental School Building, featuring common areas and state-of-the-art facilities. The new building is due for completion in early 2012. As North Carolina's only dental school, a lack of patients for students doesn't become an issue and UNC Dental's pre-doctoral students have a fantastic clinical experience. Upperclassmen are known to assist new students as they wind their way through the hurdles. Camaraderie, curriculum, research opportunities, and limitless patients make for a great experience at UNC.

6. University of Michigan, School of Dentistry
Dr. Taft, the founding dean of the dental school established the four-year model of dental education in 1901. This later became the national standard of dental education in the United States. As one of the oldest and most well established dental schools in the United States, the University of Michigan, School of Dentistry has earned a reputation for innovation and achievement. This school is a top-tier institution because of the solid education it offers with good reviews and a comparatively affordable tuition. Students report overall high levels of satisfaction. This school also offers separate cubicles for senior students and the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry located within the campus. Pre-doctoral students can become history buffs as the museum is one of only a handful of dental museums across the world, with over 10,000 exhibits.

7. The University of Toronto, Faculty of Dentistry
U of T Dental is the premier research center for dentistry in Canada and is well-recognized internationally. Toronto’s dental school scores strong among dental schools in North America. Only top-tier students are accepted, as admission averages to this dental school are extremely competitive, rivaling and even exceeding top dental schools such as Harvard. Interdisciplinary collaboration runs deep within the students, faculty and the various teaching hospitals of the university. The program offers its students many off-campus opportunities for patient treatment. This large, well-endowed dental school, with a legacy in Canada that can't be beat is as a result, Canada's best, and our Top 7th dental school.

8. University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine (UPenn)
Upenn’s ivy-league dental school is the only World Health Organization collaborating center worldwide devoted to oral infectious disease. A nationally high-ranking school with impressive rates of funding from the NIH, UPenn Dental scores in the Top 10 with its strong medical curriculum and interdisciplinary approach. The medical curriculum is so strong that in fact, since 1930, courses in internal medicine have been offered to dental students. UPenn also boasts a newer clinical facility that opened in 2002 and combined with a sizable patient population, the school certainly provides an enjoyable clinical experience. On the downside, it's the 3rd most expensive dental school on our ranking, it has a relatively larger class size, and dreary dungeon-like classrooms that are still a mainstay at this institution.

9. University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Dentistry (UNMC)
Recent renovations ($8.9 million) result in pre-doctoral students at the UNMC College of Dentistry learning and working in a modern, beautiful and comfortable environment. Innovative teaching methodology and research opportunities for dental students help make UNMC a top dental school. Outstanding teachers and smaller class sizes contribute to the quality education provided. Quality education you say? The evidence is clear: UNMC dental students top the country with their National Dental Board Examination scores. The Class of 2010 ranked 4th highest overall in the country in terms of Part I scores. The Class of 2007 ranked #1 (best overall) for Part II scores.

10. University of Washington (UW), School of Dentistry
A strong emphasis on serving rural areas results in pre-doctoral students at UW gaining excellent experience in providing dental care especially for underserved populations. This outstanding dental school consistently ranks in the Top 5 in terms of funding from NIDCR. Pass rates and average scores demonstrate that NBDE Part I and II test takers from this school are among the highest scoring within the country. Excellent training perhaps? In 2007, the WREB (Western Regional Examining Board) passing rate was 100%! UW also maintains a 97.3% pass rate on the WREB since its inception in 1996. A choice of advanced electives for students in their junior and senior years contributes to the strong academic environment. Students also report a high level of satisfaction. The only school of dentistry in Washington State concludes this 2011 ranking of the best dental schools in the US and Canada.

NOTE: Cost of attendance is in our opinion what the astute dental applicant would consider as their primary determinant in applying for - and agreeing to attend - any given dental school. Our editors generally agree that dental applicants are probably wise to pursue in-state (or your most local/provincial) state funded dental school on a priority basis. Readers should note that that these rankings are simply a "road map" to what top-tier dental schools are able to offer to their students. ALL U.S./CANADIAN/AUSTRALIAN DENTAL SCHOOLS ARE EXCELLENT INSTITUTIONS PROVIDING AN ADA/CODA ACCREDITED DENTAL EDUCATION. We suggest that dental students consider all aspects of a dental school including, but not limited to cost of attendance, safety of location, and availability of patients before selecting their final choice.

Top 10: Best Ways To Avoid Litigation In Dentistry

Practicing dentists always dread a few aspects of their careers and being sued by an angry patient, or even having a complaint filed against you can ruin not only your day but destroy your happiness for months on end. Top Ten Nation believes being prudent starts in dental school. Develop good habits in dental school and continue throughout your practicing life. So what habits or tricks should you know early on? Read on and find out!

This article is not written by an attorney and this article does not in any way shape or form replace advice by an attorney. Always consult your attorney first and foremost when it comes to litigation or protection from litigation.

Top 10 Things To Know To Avoid Getting Sued As A Dentist

1. Have knowledge about who is most likely to sue or complain
Having a complaint filed against you to your state, territorial, or provincial dental board can mean missing valuable productive days as a dentist. So who complains the most when you’re practicing? You’d imagine at first it might be your irate patients. Think again! Most complaints to dental boards that dentists encounter are actually filed against them by their own employees! Employees can complain against their dentist employers for multiple reasons, but most reasons generally involve instances where employees are made to do something they believe is wrong in the first place. Forcing your employees to cut corners, jeopardize sterilization standards, or even perform tasks that demean or embarrass them can lead to complaints. Treat your employees like family and avoid litigation, treat them like subordinates and expect litigation!

2. Documentation
Quality records and chart entries reflect quality patient care, especially in the minds of tribunals/jurors. We all know this. Additional things to keep in mind in this regard:
- Make the chart entry as soon as possible after the patient’s visit
- Sign or initial the entry to clearly identify who made the entry
- Make the entry clear, concise and complete
- Do not note fees in the clinical record
- Do not make negative remarks about the patient

3. The real deal with informed choice and consent
Informed consent involves discussion of diagnosis, prognosis, nature and purpose of treatment, risks and benefits of recommendations, alternatives, and non-treatment. Informed choice implies that a dentist fully informs the patient of the above before obtaining informed consent for providing the services selected by the patient. Having the patient sign a consent form does not absolutely absolve the dentist of his or her responsibility to perform their treatment to the standards of care expected of a reasonably trained dentist. The motto here is that you need to have a heart-to-heart with the patient and be sure in your own mind that he or she is absolutely consenting to the treatment agreed upon. Having the patient sign the consent form is simply the icing on the cake that doesn’t really fully protect you. The consent form itself is also important, and as evidenced, it is next on the Top 10 list.

4. A well-designed, signed, informed consent form
With consent forms, you always want to list all of the procedures you’re obtaining consent for in terms that a non-dentally literate person can understand. Document the communication process. A well-designed, signed, informed consent form is neither overly-broad or extensively detailed. Both overly-broad or extensively detailed consent forms can actually work against you! A consent form that is too broad is a problem because the patient can later claim that actual disclosure of the treatment rendered did not occur. An overly detailed consent form, even if you have the patient initial every line or page can later be a problem in litigation because the patient can claim to have had difficulty actually understanding the discussion and they can even focus on omissions, as little as they can be and form a complaint around that omission.

5. Confidentiality and release of patient information – Patients with HIV/Hepatitis C
Courts in the United States have recognized that privacy concerns are of paramount importance, especially for people with HIV, Hepatitis C and similar conditions. Consent for an HIV test or the release of the results of an HIV test must be written, not oral, and must be HIV-specific, not general. Note that in Canada, there is no legal precedent on this matter (but it might be prudent to consider this). Always remember, when dealing with a patient with a condition such as HIV, privacy is critical. Never mark the exterior of these patients’ paper charts with alerts or flags that other patients can see. Never discuss these patients in public areas of the clinic or at the front desk. When communicating with other medical practitioners, it is prudent to err on the side of requesting an HIV-specific release.

6. Be wary of subpoenas
Remember that patients value their confidentiality and release of patient information is something that the litigation-weary dentist should constantly keep their eyes on. If you as the dentist receive a subpoena to release patient information and if simply release everything without thinking twice, you might be getting yourself into trouble. This can actually be a problem because if you release that information, it doesn’t always protect you from being sued by the patient for breaking the confidence they placed in you! Top Ten Nation does NOT suggest ignoring subpoenas or not following their directions. We simply suggest immediately consulting an attorney if you ever receive a subpoena. Let the attorney guide you as to how you should proceed, and never simply release the patient’s entire chart without considering how it may come back and bite you.

7. Ending the patient-dentist relationship
Sometimes the dentist needs to end the patient-dentist relationship. Keep in mind that the dentist-patient relationship, if terminated incorrectly, can end up back in the dentist’s lap as a “continuity of care” complaint. A dentist may not discontinue treatment as long as further treatment is medically indicated, without giving the patient reasonable notice and sufficient opportunity to make alternative arrangements. The patient's failure to pay a bill does not end the relationship, as the relationship between dentists and patients is based on a fiduciary, rather than a financial, responsibility. Appropriate steps to terminate the relationship typically include:
- Giving the patient written notice, preferably by certified mail, return receipt requested
- Providing the patient with a brief explanation for terminating the relationship (this should be a valid reason, for instance non-compliance, failure to keep appointments, etc.)
- Agreeing to continue to provide treatment and access to services for a reasonable period of time, such as 30 days, to allow a patient to secure care from another dentist (a dentist may want to extend the period for emergency services to 60 days)
- Providing resources and/or recommendations to help a patient locate another dentist of like-specialty
- Offering to transfer records to a newly-designated dentist upon signed patient authorization to do so

8. Fix clinical charting mistakes correctly
We all make mistakes, and in dentistry, hopefully the mistakes are not made in the patient’s mouth, but rather on computer or paper when the dentist is doing that dreaded paperwork. Mistakes such as this are fine as long as you fix them correctly!
- Correct an error as soon as possible after discovery
- Draw a single line through incorrect material, and the original entry must still remain readable
- Add your initials & date to the correction
- On next available line, explain reason for the change & initial and date this entry

9. Consider further documenting tips to develop a shield against litigation
Want to further protect yourself from litigation? Consider the following hints that can sometimes go above and beyond standard charting protocols:
- Never alter or amend charts (unless you correct mistakes appropriately as discussed above)
- Document patient compliments using quotation marks
- Document patient noncompliance, refusal to see a specialist/follow recommendations and reasons why
- Document bad or unanticipated results (these are not necessarily malpractice, but must be duly documented)
- Make sure to document treatment options after a poor result
- Make chart entries consistent with appointment book
- Note missed appointments, emergencies, rescheduled appointments, and cancellations
- Document follow-up telephone calls for difficult or invasive procedures

10. In the event of a legal claim
Even after taking all possible measures to handle all cases correctly, a dentist may become a defendant in a malpractice suit. The dentist should:
- Not panic
- Immediately contact her/his attorney or insurance carrier
- Not discuss the case with anyone else until after speaking with her/his attorney
- Record the circumstances involved in the serving of a summons
- Have clear documentation

Hopefully, as a dentist, you are never sued. Top Ten Nation unfortunately reminds you that the majority of practicing dentists do encounter complaints or lawsuits at least once in their career. We hope this small article protects our fellow dentists in their endeavor to help patients in maintaining their oral health without being caught up in the legal system!

FAQ: Should I Attend an International Dental School to Save Time?

"Spotlight FAQ" questions may be edited for privacy, length, and clarity. This post was last updated in October 2011.

Question: Anonymous on July 13, 2008 asked...
What do you think about attending a dental school in another country and saving yourself four years of study? In the U.S., the majority of students are required to have a bachelor's degree to be be accepted to dental school. In other countries to have a bachelor's degree is not a requirement and you can start dental school when you graduate from high school. What are the pros and cons of this idea?

Response: Top Ten Nation Writers replied...
Re: Foreign dental schools

It initially sounds as if it's a great idea, however, I recommend otherwise. If you attend a dental school outside of the U.S. or Canada or Australia (We'll call this trio USCanAus), those schools are not accredited by the ADA or the CODA, and therefore, you will be unable to practice in the U.S., Canada, or Australia upon graduation. This restriction includes schools in England or any other developed country outside of the U.S., Canada, and Australia. USCanAus all have reciprocal agreements within one another that allows portability to dental licensure. As a foreign graduate the only way to qualify to enter USCanAus is to take a 2 or 3 year Advanced Standing (AS) or Qualifying Program (QP) to earn a DMD/DDS in USCanAus. There may be exceptions or slight variations to these rules in a handful of states. These Advanced Standing seats are significantly harder to gain entry into than just the straight 4-year DMD/DDS seats. This doesn't mean that it isn't possible, plenty of people do what you have suggested. Other problems that you may face include a lack of a quality education, and unbeknown issues arising from the introduction of pass/fail NDBE Part 1 exams in the near future. Please note that currently all dental schools with Advanced Standing seats in the U.S. use NDBE Part 1 scores to scrutinize candidates for admission. This is all "up in the air" after somewhere potentially around 2011/2012, as dental schools will be scrambling to come up with other ways to scrutinize foreign applicants.

The only 'pro' of doing what you have suggested is saving potentially 2-3 years of education at most (and that is if you are an excellent student, and make no mistakes.) A lot of foreign dental schools that don't require undergraduate education are 5-year programs as well, so an additional year may be lost there. You may or may not also lose more years while applying for - and potentially waiting for - an Advanced Standing seat in USCanAus. It is of my personal opinion that this route of attending an international school is not recommended due to the mixture of all of these following reasons: you probably aren't going to save any time anyways, most dental schools that don't require undergrad education aren't in developed countries anyways (i.e. England or Ireland would require undergrad...) so you'd have to deal with safety issues being overseas. Dental school is difficult and it's better being somewhat closer to your family so you can go see them more often during short vacations. Why deal with Visa and student immigration issues? Furthermore, why deal with having to compete for heavy-in-demand AS seats, all for an attempt to save at most 1 or 2 years of education?

Take the safer route and apply to a U.S. or Canadian or Australian dental school. You'll get a quality education from the beginning, with the security of knowing that you will qualify for a dental license without having to seek admission to an Advanced Standing program. You'll be closer to your family. You'll also be more comfortable not having to deal with the language, cultural, dietary, and societal differences. At the end of the day, you'll probably spend less on your dental education as well by staying in the USCanAus. I hope this long winded answer helps.

Spotlight FAQ's is an idea to attempt to highlight interesting and relevant admissions questions for pre-dental students.

Top 10: Questions You Should Be Asking Dental Schools

What should you as an informed pre-dental student be looking to ask when you have a bunch of dental schools to pick from? Not everyone is in this situation, but knowing what things to look for in a dental school can be useful information to know. You may end up with more than just a handful of interviews and instead of being grateful about getting in anywhere, you might wonder about which dental school is best for you. Here are the things you should find out about the dental schools that you are applying to! Bear in mind that generally you will get better and more truthful answers if you ask random dental school students walking around instead of the faculty or selected tour guide students (who are usually class officers expected to be on their best behavior.) These questions go beyond the basic information you can find on each dental schools' website, such as tuition and fees. Keep in mind that I believe tuition should be a primary factor in your choosing a dental school.

Top 10 Things That You Want To Know When Interviewing at Dental Schools

1. Do students have to share lockers? Manikins in the simulation labs? Clinical chairs?
Sharing is caring right? No, and definitely not in the dental school arena. Dental school can be a stressful environment, and everything that you have to share with other students results in less access for you. This is especially true at crunch times when every student around you wants to make use of the same facilities. Find out how many resources the dental school can furnish for you as a student individually. This is especially true in regards to operatories in the clinic, school lockers, and pre-clinical simulation manikins.

2. Is patient swapping allowed in the clinics between students?
Although this results in poorer overall care for patients, patient swapping can help dental students in their clinical years accomplish their requirements more efficiently. You should consider this in your line of thinking in terms of what you are looking for in a dental school. Do you want to learn a lot in dental school and absorb as much information as you can? Perhaps a dental school that allows swapping isn't for you. If you're looking to get in and get out of dental school fast, you might want to go for a dental school that allows this type of practice.

3. What kind of housing options are available? Is it affordable to live around the school?
Students may be able to give you a heads-up about unique housing opportunities that you may miss if you end up hunting for apartments on your own prior to your first day. They can also let you know about student run housing lists online or through email. Other benefits include potentially finding roommate opportunities through informal referral networks that the dental students may be privy to. This is all important if you intend on being frugal as a dental student. Also, what areas are unsafe areas? What about nearby restaurants? Which areas are most convenient? You certainly don't have to waste time asking these questions and collecting this information on the day of your visit, but you can try to collect a few phone numbers or email addresses instead and ask at a more convenient time.

4. How much of your own laboratory work do you do in the clinics?
This is a double-edged sword. It may be quite a learning experience to have significant laboratory requirements such as fabricating dyes, casts, and doing your own flasking, but it can also fill up your day with tedious work. Are you seeking a full and enriching clinical experience? Are you instead looking for a patient oriented clinical experience? If the dental school has only basic laboratory requirements, understand that you may end up missing out on core knowledge that would have eventually allowed you to critically understand how laboratory restorations are made.

5. Are patients hard to come across? Is the school able to offer enough patients to students to allow them to complete their requirements? Do students generally need to find their own patients?
This is important because it is difficult to find your own patients and deal with the rigors of dental school at the same time. If the school is not able to successfully supply patients to its students, then consider that you may not graduate on time, you may have difficulty obtaining a dental license (due to qualifying exams requiring patients), and that your overall experience may be much more stressful.

6. Do the faculty generally try to improve their courses based on feedback and evaluation from students?
It is one thing to go to a great dental school, but it is completely refreshing to attend a dental school that will respond to their students' arising needs. The one caveat with this is that you as a student should be willing to deal with changes to your curriculum on-the-fly if you choose to attend a dental school with an active system in place to adapt to student and faculty evaluations.

7. Are students provided time off to study for essential exams such as the Board exam (NBDE Part-1)? Are exams from classes given in a block week of exams or spread thin over the whole semester?
Some dental schools give their students a summer off with a deadline to complete their board exam at the end of the summer. Other dental schools have a full semester with a deadline to complete the board exam in the middle of such a semester. Some dental schools have one or two exams a week for their lecture classes, and other dental schools have all of their exams bunched up at the end of the semester. Think about what kind of a student you are, and what kind of an exam schedule you would prefer!

8. If a student is caught up in a situation in which he or she has not completed requirements by graduation time, does the school actively assist the student to graduate more efficiently by providing necessary resources?
I would imagine that every potential dental student wants to know the answer to this question. If the dental school cannot provide a straight clear-cut answer, then it should be evident that no clear-cut system exists to help lagging students out of the door when it comes to graduation time.

9. How do students obtain chair time in the clinics?
Do students have to line up to obtain operatories in the clinics? Is there an online booking system? Are there separate operatories for every student? As you can imagine, the answers to these questions will sort of guide you in the direction of... less sharing, and easier access is the best scenario.

10. What kind of things does the dental school furnish in terms of reducing the competitive environment and fostering a collegial environment?
This is important because when we compared dental students' satisfaction of their dental schools, a majority of students who were happier mentioned that there was little to no competition between them and their classmates. Dental schools can help to foster collegial environments with policies based on: non-competitive grading systems, mentoring programs, upperclassmen 'big brother/big sister' programs, and school planned social events.

I hope that this list of questions will help to prepare you as a future dental student be more informed of your choices. Good luck with the admissions process!

Feature: Future of Dentistry Part 2: Supply of Dentists

Are There Getting To Be Too Many Dentists? What Is The Long Term Outlook of a Dental Degree?

Part I of the Future of Dentistry series looked at a number of potential new dental schools opening. But are new dentists actually needed? The true answer is that it is quite a fine line. It is difficult to say that we do not need new dentists since rural areas across the U.S. are experiencing dentist shortages. Advanced Dental Hygiene practitioners are gaining a stronger footing by exploiting this gaping hole in provider coverage. The ADA's move to create a CDHC (Community Dental Health Coordinator) takes a phenomenally intelligent step towards dealing with the hygienists' union-style hostile policy pursuit of higher provider-level status. The hygienists' goal is to achieve a target in dentistry mirroring what Nurse Practitioners have obtained in medicine. In the long run though, this argument ultimately pushes for more new dentists to graduate to provide appropriate top-level oral health practitioner coverage to all Americans. A strong counter-argument may consider that the debt burden of new dental graduates is quickly inflating. What prevails are year-over-year increases in dental fees charged to the average patient. Dental graduates become so engrossed in dealing with their loans that they flock to the cities in search of decent paying associateship opportunities, more modern and convenient lifestyles, thus leaving rural areas undermanned. Increasing the competition between dentists by adding new schools simply creates long term income instability without the necessary decline in tuition rates.

It is of our opinion that the problem of scarcity of dentists (in rural areas) is correctable via incentive-based policies. By that, it is advisable that legislators and policy makers come to the realization that the amount of dentists out there may be in a slight short-supply, but the problem is correctable by encouraging current dentists and graduates to settle in rural areas. There are numerous ways that this can be done, including providing financial benefits to dentists establishing practices in rural districts as well as easing licensing restrictions for dentists willing to work in shortage areas. The problem is that legislators are being lobbied by many other organized movements with the exact opposite intent. It is up to dental students and dentists to educate, motivate, and encourage the appropriate development of policies that correct the supply-side problem in dentistry, without compromising care. We just hope that this article helps to enforce what the true nature of the problem is. So how can you help as a dentist or dental student? Join the ADA, and contribute to ADPAC. ADPAC is the American Dental Political Action Committee, and they are the people who will lobby legislators on dentists' behalf.

We also understand that there is a problem with supply-side issues and looking at the statistics provided by the HRSA (see bar graph), it is evident that the overall number of dentists will start to dwindle in the near future unless new dental schools are opened or somehow more new dentists are recruited (most likely international dentists). This harps back to Part I of the Future of Dentistry series in that yes in fact, new dentists are required to a certain extent. The confusing variable though is that new technology that is ever increasing is allowing current dentists to perform procedures much quicker, as well as decreasing the existence of dental disease. It is of course a fine line that remains as to how many new dentists need to be graduating, what kind of incentives need to be created to attract dentists to rural areas, as well as what should be done to decrease tuition burden for new dental graduates.


In fact, if the ADA and ADEA were not planning to open any new dental schools at all, we would be witnessing a dramatic number of decreasing dentists year after year in between the years 2014 and 2031 as shown below.


We sincerely believe that taking into account all of the factors discussed earlier, that dentistry remains confidently, one of the premier professions available to young undergraduates seeking strong, stable careers. The outlook of the supply side remains guarded in that encroachment from hygienists is increasing, new dental schools are being considered to decrease shortages, and international graduates are increasingly being eased into the system. Although guarded, this is only the supply side, as we will see in Part III of the Future of Dentistry, the demand side of dentistry is exponentially increasing.

Top 10: Most Expensive Dental Schools To Attend (Ranking)

Pre-dental students seeking information on dental schools can only be shocked at some of the costs they see associated with becoming a dentist. Tuition, fees, books, instruments... can they pile on any more? The costs keep increasing from year to year, and here we've compiled a list of the worst offenders: the most expensive dental schools in the United States.

Top 10 Most Costliest Dental Schools To Attend as of 2009 (Costs shown are for one year of attendance, Class of 2012 or most recent information)

RANK ORDER IS BASED ON TUITION & FEES. WE USE THIS BASELINE BECAUSE LIVING COSTS ESTIMATED CAN EASILY SKEW THE TOTAL COSTS ESTIMATED. Many frugal dental students can easily live below the estimated costs provided for room and board provided by the dental schools. Based on this, the GRAND TOTALS may not be reflective of the rank order provided.

1. University of Southern California School of Dentistry (USC Dental)
Tuition: $61,953
Fees: $2,253
Equipment: $8,593
Room & board: $17,532
Personal/misc: $2,436
Transportation: $2,700
GRAND TOTAL: $95,467

2. New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dental)
Tuition: $52,510
Fees, books, instruments: $9,884
Estimated living expenses, room & board, personal, transportation: $31,351
GRAND TOTAL: $93,745

3. University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine (UPenn)
Tuition: $53,990
General fee: $2,000
Room & board: $13,965
Books, supplies: $1,050
Misc: $4,725
Instruments: $6,496
Technology fee: $536
Clinical apparel: $166
GRAND TOTAL: $82,928

4. Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine (BU Dental)
Tuition: $51,990
Fees, instruments: $6,525
Insurance: $2,118
Estimated room & board: $15,435
Books, supplies: $1,975
Personal: $3,987
Transportation: $1,339
GRAND TOTAL: $83,369

5. Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (Tufts Dental)
Tuition: $48,300
Dental kit: $3,200
Fees, charges, supplies: $4,741
Health insurance: $2,940
Books, supplies: $2,250
Living expenses estimated: $18,000
GRAND TOTAL: $79,431

6. University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (UoP Dental)
Tuition: $72,896
Fees, instruments, insurance, ancillary: $18,559
Living expenses cost estimate not provided
GRAND TOTAL: $91,455 (NB: This is a 3 year program)

7. Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine (Case Dental)
Tuition: $46,350
Estimated living expenses: $18,856
Dental kit: $10,692
GRAND TOTAL: $76,078

8. Columbia University, College of Dental Medicine
Tuition: $45,760
Fees, insurance: $7,713
Books, supplies: $1,460
Living expenses + personal estimated: $17,275
GRAND TOTAL: $72,208

9. Nova Southeastern University, College of Dental Medicine (NSU Dental)
Tuition (out of state): $44,885
Fees: $895
Books: $1,500
Instruments, laptop, equipment: $11,250
Living expenses estimated: $21,500
GRAND TOTAL: $80,030

10. Harvard University, School of Dental Medicine
Tuition: $39,990
Room & board, all other fees: $21,155
GRAND TOTAL: $61,145

That's it! The most expensive dental schools in the United States, let's just hope you get your money's worth!

Feature: Future of Dentistry Part 1: Nine Potential New Dental Schools In The United States

Nine New Dental Schools? - Reaction To The Economics of Dental Education Into The Future

In response to a dental-related death in 2007, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently issued a scathing report about the state of the nation's dental education system. The report came about after Deamonte Driver, a boy aged 12 died last year in Washington when a tooth infection left unchecked spread to his brain. The fallout has revealed a whole new set of changes expected in the dental education system.

Among the changes suggested, the most noteworthy for Top Ten Nation readers is that the ADA (American Dental Association) and ADEA (American Dental Education Association) intend on opening up eight new dental schools in the near future (the ninth school we'll touch upon later). The information comes from the testimony of Dr. Jane S. Grover, first vice president of the ADA to the Committee on House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy.

In the testimony, Dr. Grover explains that the ADEA believes that there are not enough dentists graduating to meet the needs of the U.S. population. To address the issue, the report suggests the use of auxiliary dental personnel (Community Dental Health Coordinators or CDHC's) who would perform preventative procedures including temporization of caries. Additionally, the plan, cited from the testimony, involves (in addition to the 57 current dental schools in the U.S.), opening up eight new dental schools in the following states:

  • Arizona
  • North Carolina (Rurally focused - in the Eastern area)
  • Utah
  • Nevada
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • Virginia
  • New England
We already know about a few of these schools and where they will open:
  • Arizona in the list refers to Midwestern University's College of Dental Medicine. This dental school matriculated the first graduating class of 2012 in 2008.
  • North Carolina refers to East Carolina University's School of Dentistry. ECU plans to matriculate it's first class of about 50 students in 2011.
  • New England refers to the University of New England in Maine. UNE is in the exploratory stage of opening a new dental school. The Dean of College of Health Professions has mentioned that the Board of Trustees has approved the planning for a school and that fund-raising has now begun.
  • Information from one of our blog readers, Dennis (1st comment under this post), tells us that Utah's potential new dental school will be located at University of Utah in Salt Lake City. It is alleged that medical students are currently taking their biomedical sciences with dental students from Creighton as a possible stepping stone to a full blown dental program.
In addition to all of the new schools listed in the testimony to the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, there is now Western University in California which is in the midst of opening up a new College of Dental Medicine. That brings the number of total potential new dental schools to nine.

What will this mean to the future of the dental profession? It appears that for now, most dentists agree that the new dental schools will start to fill the supply side shortages in the dental industry, and will hopefully not over-saturate the numbers of dentists practicing. Dentists, legislators, and those leaders with decision making powers need to understand that opening new dental schools simply creates new dentists, but does not address the distribution issues. Rural areas are suffering not because of a relative shortage of dentists nationally but because of dentists being concentrated in cities. Is opening up new dental schools the way to proceed? It is clear that new dental schools are required to meet the demands for the future, but for now, the slow process of opening new dental schools can potentially allow the ADEA and other oversight committees to "titrate" graduating dentists to an equilibrium that allows dentists and the dental patient population to be satisfied with the provision of dental care.

Economically, the opening of these dental schools should not significantly reduce the competitiveness of the dental profession as a top 5 income earner in the United States. The fact of the matter remains that the numbers of dentists in total is dwindling with retirees outnumbering graduates. If new dentists don't graduate, other allied providers such as CDHC's will continue to jump in to fill the demand. The only concern on our mind is that we hope that the 'new dental school opening' trend doesn't continue in disregard to debt loads associated with dental education and opening a small business. There is a potential that the income of the profession can decrease, leaving new graduates in unpayable debts with dreams of their own practices. Lets hope that the ADEA remains cognizant of that. See Part 2 of the Future of Dentistry series.

Feature Alert: A Warning About VitalSource Electronic Textbooks

Many dental schools across the country now offer VitalSource Technologies' Electronic Textbooks or Virtual Textbooks to dental students across the United States. We're here to tell you what they are all about, and why you should not buy into their e-textbook option. Some dental schools force all of their students to purchase virtual textbooks. Other schools offer an option. If you have an option, Top Ten Nation recommends that dental students stick to purchasing regular old-fashioned paper textbooks.

Top Ten Nation Feature Editorial: Consumer Alert: The Trickery Behind VitalSource's Sales Pitch And Why You Should Stay Away From Their E-Textbooks

Many of our member insiders are complaining that VitalSource was not upfront and clear about their contract with dental students from day one. VitalSource representatives regularly visit dental schools and market their digital textbook product without fully disclosing the contract. VitalSource states that every student has the option to purchase the e-textbooks, but what they don't tell students is that they are required to purchase the e-textbooks every year at dental school for all four years once they have purchased this option. If you ever choose to stop paying VitalSource and switch back to paper textbooks, or if you choose to stop buying textbooks altogether since you may feel that you can get through the rest of dental school without them, ALL VITALSOURCE E-TEXTBOOKS ARE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU, WITHOUT A REFUND OF ANY SORT. This is accomplished by forcing you to update your software license. If you choose not to update your license, they bill you again for the next installment regardless of your choice to not purchase more e-textbooks. The billing occurs through your dental school, so unless you pay up, your dental education is on the line. This amounts to a total rip-off because first off, they don't explain this in their marketing pitch at all. Secondly, if you had spent thousands of dollars in your first few years in dental school purchasing e-textbooks, and you decide not to go back to the e-textbook option later on, you are left with NO e-textbooks whatsoever. All of the money you spent is lost with nothing to show for it. All of your money is gone into the hands of VitalSource, and you - the poor dental student - is left with absolutely nothing. How can this be?! As the editor of Top Ten Nation, I am absolutely shocked by this.

With paper textbooks, no one can take them away from you if you decide not to purchase additional textbooks in the future. On top of that, once you are done with paper textbooks, you can re-sell them to other students who may be looking for them via Amazon.com, Craigslist, eBay, etc. This is clearly the superior option. Especially when it comes to being frugal and saving money which incidentally is important for high-tuition paying dental students.

When it comes to VitalSource, I feel it is essential to warn our readers about what our current member dental students are experiencing, and what they are frustrated about. Dental school is already expensive, and it is completely outrageous for a company such as VitalSource to come in and further stress out already worn-out, and financially drained dental students. This company should not be allowed to do this, and it makes me wonder why dental schools even allow these people to have the option of presenting their products to their students. Kick-backs maybe?! It's about time these people learned that money doesn't grow on trees.

We hope this helps to clarify our position on VitalSource's money-grabbing, insulting, and tricky policies. For further information regarding our stance on this bewildering company and what it is doing to dental students, leave a comment or contact us.

Top 10: Career Choices For New Dentists

New dental school graduates have a milieu of options when it comes to their next step in their careers. We'd like to bring a little bit of introductory clarity to many of the choices that new dentists can face. Many dental students who are in their 3rd year or junior year are also having to face a deadline to decide whether or not to pursue further education. Most graduates choose to enter private practice. We hope this post helps. All salary figures, and statistics are referenced from the American Dental Association.

Top 10 Paths That A Dental School Graduate Can Take And Should Consider

1. Postdoctoral Training
There are nine specialties and numerous other postgraduate educational opportunities available. The specialties (Endodontics, Pathology, Radiology, Oral Surgery, Orthodontics, Pediatrics, Periodontics, Prosthodontics, and Public Health) generally involve 2-3 year programs, with the notable exception of Oral Surgery which generally is 4-6 years in length. Specialties can require competitive board scores (which may change to GRE scores in the near future) as well as competitive class ranks, and other indicators. There are numerous non-specialty programs out there as well that include GPR's, AEGD's, Implantology, Dental Anasthesiology, Forensics, Preventative Dentistry, and Oral Biology. I tend to advise those graduates that decide to pursue general practice to consider a GPR or AEGD since basic cost-benefit analyses demonstrate that you learn more, and save more time and money in the long run in such programs over your practice lifetime, then you would by taking CE. Essentially, taking CE for what you would have learned in a GPR or AEGD is more costly and more time consuming.

2. Solo Private Practice
75.3% of dentists in the US and Canada are in solo practice, but the trend shows that the large majority of them are older dentists, and not new graduates. Of the 75.3%, only 12.7% are new graduates within the last 10 years. The reason new graduates are shying away from solo practice is because of the financial risk associated with start-up. Buying out an existing practice tends to be the more favored choice for those who choose this path. It is worthwhile noting that in general, incorporated sole proprietors earn more on average ($186,610) than unincorporated sole proprietors in general practice ($167,800).

3. Associateship
New dental graduates are more inclined today to become associates then ever before. Established dental practices bring new associates in as salaried employees, without having to have any financial burden. It allows a new graduate to gain skill and confidence, earn and pay off loans, and to begin to establish their own practice. On average, most associates stay with a practice for 2 years, at which point they leave to start off on their own, or come aboard as a partner. For those that decide to leave, a restrictive covanent is generally signed restricting the associate from practicing within a certain distance. Other paths include also buying out a practice at the end of an agreed associateship period. Associates earn on average $131,350 per annum.

4. Solo Group Practice
These practices are essentially a group of solo practitioners working out of the same office space. This arrangement allows a new graduate to start off without a huge committment, and to slowly work their way up. In these types of practices, a new dentist can rent out an operatory or two, and maintain ownership over their own patients, hours of operation, and fee collection. Generally, these practices end up sharing front end and assistant employees, instruments, and office supplies.

5. Partnership
This is generally easy for a new graduate only if they are setting up with other new graduates. An established practice would only bring in an experienced partner or someone who offers a new service to their patients, which is an example of why post-graduate training can be valuable. It is important to have the legal framework and contractual boundaries of a partnership set up appropriately. Good contracts that cover all the possibilities are important to maintain a good relationship. Partners on average earn $192,870 unincorporated, while incorporated partners earn more on average ($215,670).

6. Contractor
A contractor position is similar to being an associate, but without being an actual employee of the practice. You remain self-employed, and set your own hours, and decide what kind of procedures you perform. This type of a position is helpful if your lifestyle demands flexibility and you have a solid base of practices that offer you the type of work that you are looking for. On the downside, you don't receive employee benefits, and you are responsible for your own insurance. You also are not guaranteed a salary of any sort. Contractors earn on average $101,710.

7. Federal Dental Employers
These positions are generally those that require a committment, but provide sign-on bonuses and loan assistance. Positions include openings with the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the U.S. Public Health Service. In such positions you may be relocated somewhere in the United States or overseas. Benefits include not having to worry about a start-up cost or a patient base, and the oppurtunity to gain more experience or to attend postgraduate training.

8. Academics
Since the likely reader of this post is already in dental school or has graduated, you're likely aware of the positions available at dental schools. Most dental schools, if not all, are looking for faculty, either clinical or didactic at any given time. There is a shortage of dental school faculty throughout the nation. At the current time, the U.S. has 56 dental schools. Note that faculty pursuing tenure usually require additonal postgraduate training in a specific discipline. The downside is that for faculty just beginning their careers, the salary tends to be on the 'low' end.

9. Hospital Dentistry
Dentists hired for these positions generally require some postgraduate training to receive hospital credentials. The position entails treating medically compromised patients who otherwise would have difficulty being seen by private practice dentists. Not all hospitals have dental wards, so be sure to check out which hospitals in your area would be interested in bringing aboard a dentist.

10. The Other Options
Many other private industries hire dentists for clinical, administrative, research, and other reasons. DMHO's hire dentists to provide treatment to their clients, insurance companies hire dentists to verify claims, and associations hire dentists for administrative purposes. Private industries hire dentists for research purposes as well. There is also a dentist that has been hired by Google to provide dental treatment to Google employees. Although demand in this 'other' sector is low, it is certainly an area that should not be overlooked for a new graduate seeking a non-traditional dental career.

Good luck to all you new graduates out there! Although you shouldn't need it. I just had a lecture at school about how the demand for dentists is significantly increasing, whereas the supply of new graduates is beginning to dwindle.

Feature: Tips For Life In Dental School

Dental school is certainly a place where some serious learning takes place. I describe it as partly fun, partly stressful, and some extended periods of studying effort before exams. Everyone is different in terms of how they remember the material and recall the information for their exams. I am a procrastinator and a crammer. I rely on RedBull or more recently an affordable alternative known as coffee to pull all-nighters before exams. It does the trick. I am an excellent student in my class and I am surprised by how well I did in my first year. This article isn't for someone who just wants to pass dental school and get by with a dental degree and become a general practitioner. This advice is for students who want to see results on their scores for whatever their reasons may be. So heres my advice to students just entering dental school who want to be at the top of their class.

Top Ten Nation Feature Article: Tips And Tricks For Success In Dental School

  • Figure out how you learn, and learn in your most optimal manner. Use one of those quizzes online or contact one of your student advisers to determine your learning style and more about your habits. Know your weaknesses, and get ready to bounce past them.
  • Right. You got your learning style. Now you must know your studying weakness. Do you procrastinate? Then start scheduling in study time, and switch off the TV and internet, and just start studying. I cram the few days before the exam. This works for me, I've figured out my perfect balance. If you study just fine, then keep up the good work!
  • Stick to the main study material. I know so many of my classmates that study such extraneous information. Some study textbooks and books they just find on their own at Chapters such as anatomy atlases and condensed texts. My advice is just stick to what is presented to you in class. There is enough detail there already!
  • Use old exams. They are always floating around somewhere. The upperclassmen at some schools pass these down. I find that a decent amount of questions are always repeated.
  • Avoid problems by not getting yourself tangled into conflicts. Be it classmates, professors, or whoever, just avoid arguing! Arguing won't help you at all, so just suck up the bad grade or bad comment or whatever came your way and just go with the flow. Don't take anything personally.
  • Set your goals in the right place. Focus on doing the best that you can do. The reason I want A's in my classes at dental school is because I want to know how to properly do my job as a dentist in the future and because doing well gives me a rush. I aim for an A and this way, I have a comfortable margin from the failing score, and I never have to worry about potentially failing a class.
  • Use upperclassmen friends to gain knowledge about specific classes and labs. They can give you tips and hints, but don't rely on their knowledge as absolutely correct! Information and examining styles sometimes change year-to-year. What the professor presents in class is what trumps everything else!
  • Attend all lectures as best as you can. A lot of students tend to become a bit lazy and they quit attending classes. Go to your classes, there's always a benefit (however small it may be) in doing so.
  • Be persistent. Certain simulations or clinical procedures can be difficult to master. Be relentless and practice until you are good at it. This is easier said than done. I have my own way of practicing... Everyone comes up with their own personal style. Talk with friends once in a while to pick up on tricks that they've learned. Sharing techniques is a great way of becoming more accurate, quicker, and more efficient.
  • Figure out how to de-stress. This is important. If you can't handle stress, you will have other problems as well. I tend to watch Star Trek and play video games. Yeah you know where it's at. Find out what you can do to immediately relax and forget about all your other stressors in the world.
  • I am a strong proponent of being frugal as a dental student. This means I constantly strive to save money. I find that doing this will lessen my debt into the future. I want to point out that you have to pull back a little bit once in a while and actually spend money to treat yourself.
  • Exercise if you can. It makes you feel good, and refreshes you! I try to do it as much as possible but it gets to be tough at times. I try my best to go for a run at least once a week.

I hope this list helps a few dental students out there to maximize their dental education experience.

Until next time...

Top 10: FAQ's That Readers Want To Know (Dental Applicants)

I am proud of the small cadre of readers that we have developed over time, and we have answered hundreds of questions from potential applicants! It's a great starting point. We love the questions, but I have noticed a large number of common questions. It might be helpful to just post on this, and I hope that our readers go through this post briefly before emailing us to see if their answer is in some way covered.

Top 10 FAQ's From Our Readers:

1. "I have a bad GPA..."
This is a common situation. Many of our readers are unhappy about their performance in their undergraduate studies. If your GPA is above 3.4 (overall) and over 3.3 (science), you don't have to be so concerned about your GPA. For the rest of us, we might want to read on... There isn't truly a proper blanket answer for everyone, as everyone varies in small aspects of their application portfolio. Regardless, here is our best blanket advice for readers that worry about their GPA. Lets start with the GPA trend: If your first year in undergrad was horrible, and you improved over time, dental school admissions committees (AdComs) take this into consideration! Don't worry about it so much, as long as your average has significantly improved, you'll still be considered a great applicant. Otherwise, if it's still not looking good for you, we suggest the following: read our post on What To Do If You Didn't Get Accepted This Year as a starting point. Although, you might not have applied yet, this post can still help you understand what you can do to improve your application. We strongly suggest doing a second bachelors or a relevant masters degree to improve your GPA. A masters degree (especially related to dentistry, such as a program specifically designed for pre-professional health students is the best). Last but not least, you need to do very well on the DAT to make up for a poor GPA. For instance, 26's across the board on the DAT can make up for a sub 3.00 GPA for certain schools! How do you do well on the DAT? Check out How to Ace the DAT.

2. "I have been out of school for years..."
Don't worry about it! Dental schools (and medical schools as well) love non-traditional applicants. The point here is that dental schools like having a varied incoming class, based on many demographics, and having a few older students is a great way of adding to the diversity of the class. Additionally, older students tend to do well in dental school, as they have matured, and are ready to focus on their studies. I am aware of the fact that MOST incoming dental classes usually have a few students in their 3o's, 40's and sometimes even in their 50's! So what's the catch? Just be ready to tell the truth about why you decided to pursue dentistry at the time that you did, and be ready to talk about your experiences in the interim. All in all, this isn't really a deficiency -- it's an asset for applying to dental school!

3. "Should I re-write the DAT?"
It depends on your circumstances, but generally, if you are asking yourself this, the answer is probably yes (if you have time to do so). A better DAT score can significantly improve your chances of admission. So what's a good DAT score? Generally you would want to have better than 20 in all sections. One or two 17's, 18's or 19's or what not won't hurt you that much. The lower your GPA, the better you want your DAT scores! Remember, ONLY YOUR MOST RECENT DAT SCORES are used to calculate chances of admission. So don't be afraid to re-write! Click here for more information on the DAT.

4. "How do I know if dentistry is right for me?"
Or... "how do I know if I should pursue dentistry or medicine?" It's true that if you pursue a career that you won't be happy in, that you might end up being unhappy for the rest of your working life. Some people can learn to be happy regardless, some can't. Dentistry is different. It's a stressful and extremely detail oriented career and it's very difficult to learn to enjoy it if you don't truly have a passion for it. Always keep this in mind. Go ahead and read our post on How to Know if Dentistry is Right For You.

5. "How many reference letters do I or should I have?"
The answer is four. Ideally three from pure-science professors (biology, chemistry, physics, or somewhere in between), and one from a practicing dentist (who is unrelated to you). This is the ideal combination of letters as it is able to meet the admission requirement of most dental schools. Some dental schools may require additional letters from different sources, please keep this in mind.

6. "What should I write in my personal essay?"
I generally don't advise people on this answer. Why? Because it's supposed to be unique! Write what is in your heart! Why do you really want to pursue dentistry? There is no one perfect answer. Just have proper grammar, keep it professional, and don't bring in politics or controversy. Have other people edit it for you. Perhaps take it to an English professor at your undergrad (that's what I did). Keep it simple, and don't use this as an opportunity to rehash what is already on your application. Use it to add information that isn't on your application!

7. "Which dental school is the best for me?"
All dental schools graduate their students with an equivalent DMD/DDS. One dental school does NOT graduate vastly proficient dentists in comparison to another. The point here is that tuition should be one of the things at the top of your list when deciding which school is best to attend. Some students may want to consider the safety of the location of the dental school since you may be traveling home late at night after labs or clinics. Another factor is the availability of patients. Certain dental schools have a hard time providing patients for their students.

8. "When should I write the DAT?"
As early as you can in your undergraduate years! This way, you can have the opportunity to re-write it if you need to. You should still try doing your best on the first shot, as dental schools will be aware if you wrote the DAT 10 times or something. A couple of tries is not a big deal. Just try to do well, and write it early, so you don't delay applying when the time comes.

9. "I am failing dental school... what should I do?"
Contact your student services office. Get mentorship immediately. Most dental schools will try their best to support their students through rough times. Remediation is always a possibility. The sooner you activate the support systems the dental school offers, the better off you will be. Otherwise, sit back and focus on your study efforts and where you are wasting time or procrastinating. The thing is, you're smart enough to pass dental school (or else you wouldn't have obtained admission). Even if you have to repeat a year... you'll make it through. Best of luck!

10. "Can I ask you a question?"
Yes of course you may! Simply forward your question to toptennation@hotmail.com and we will try our best to get back to you as soon as possible.

Top 10: Things To Know About The Dental School Application Process

There are a few things that a lot of pre-dental students may not know out there, and we hope to help them here by outlining what savvy pre-dental students would want to know about the dental school application process.

Top 10 Dental School Application Hacks For Pre-Dental Students

1. Apply early
Try to apply the first day possible! When the AADSAS cycle opens (which is usually in May of the calendar year prior to the start date), your goal should be to submit your application that day to maximize your chances of admission. This means that you should have most of your application actually completed beforehand. Letters of reference and the essay should definitely be completed prior to this date! I've provided a list below that covers what other information you may want to collect beforehand according to AADSAS. The quicker you can submit the application, the better off you are, because dental schools employ a rolling admissions process. That means as soon as a dental school comes across an applicant they are interested in, they will offer them admission and fill up seats as quick as they can! The later you apply, the more scarce the empty seats are... and the tougher it is to get your acceptance letter.

The information you should collect beforehand:

  • Awards and honors earned (related to your academic performance)
  • Job shadowing and volunteer experiences (related to dentistry)
  • Extracurricular activities and leadership efforts
  • Volunteer and community service efforts
  • Work experience
  • Research experience
  • Anything that you've done that requires manual dexterity (playing instruments, sculpting, etc.)
2. Apply to 10 dental schools
Unless you are magically guaranteed admission to a dental school somewhere, you should plan on applying to at least five dental schools. We recommend applying to ten! You may be an excellent student, but the fact of the matter is, is that numerous factors beyond your control may result in a few rejections. If you only apply to 1 or 2 schools, even with excellent scores and excellent DAT scores, you may slip up in the interviews, and your chance at a spot this year may fizzle away into history. Be smart, spend a few more dollars and apply to more schools to get that security that you deserve after all that effort you put into your undergraduate education.

3. Don't harass the staff
Don't make multiple calls to each of your designated dental schools to see if they received, processed, or have taken a look at your application. If you're unsure, call once or twice to see if everything is in order. Be polite and don't harass the staff. I know of a case where a rude and impatient pre-dental student had their application tossed aside because of an inappropriate voicemail left at the dental school demanding to know their application status. Don't be one of these people. The school is generally inundated with applications and calls during the application cycle. They try their best to organize all of the information, just be cognizant of that.

4. Write a good personal statement or essay
Don't just rewrite your resume here. You want to write a powerful statement with a theme. Something that will want to make the reader remember you! Don't talk about controversial subjects, because controversy is not something you want to bring up here. Make sure you have perfect grammar, so be sure to edit it over yourself and have others have a look at it too. Also, be specific... there are way too many personal statements that say the exact same thing - I love working with my hands, I love science, I enjoy working with people... etc. Be more specific than this!

5. Prepare for the interview
You really should prepare for the interview, instead of going in there and winging it. You need to come up with concise answers for commonly asked questions. Questions that you know that'll definitely be asked! These include: 'Why did you decide to pursue dentistry?' 'What are your strengths?' 'What are your weaknesses?' (Know at least 3 of each) 'Why did you apply to our dental school?' 'What are your goals?' etc. Also know that the way you dress is important. Men should wear a suit and tie. Ladies should dress appropriately with a pant suit, conservative skirt, or something along the lines of that (You can tell I'm a guy right?). My personal tidbit to you regarding interviews is just this, TELL THE TRUTH. Whatever comes to your mind first, you should probably say just that! Try to say it in a polite and professional manner though. Don't try to guess what the interviewer is 'looking for.' When you provide answers based on what you think the interviewer wants to hear, it's pretty obvious that you're doing that. Trust me on that one. It doesn't look good, and it doesn't seem genuine.

6. Submit ALL relevant transcripts
A lot of students forget to submit transcripts from ALL of the colleges and universities that they attended! There are a few tricky ways that this can happen... so read on! This means that each and every schools Registrar's Office needs to mail a copy of your transcripts directly from their office to AADSAS. Keep in mind that a mistake that some students make is that they assume that since coursework from one college appears on the transcript of another college, that all they have to do is send in the one transcript. Don't make this mistake! Make sure to have EACH college send in their own transcript even if your coursework appears on another transcript somewhere else.

7. Fly in a day early for your interviews
Be refreshed, be prepared, and be on time. The best way to do this is to arrive the day before your interview in the correct city and stay the night. Usually dental schools give advice to their applicants invited as to which hotels to stay in and what discount they can receive. Some people make the mistake of flying in an hour or 2 before their interview starts. Things happen, flights can be delayed, there can be traffic issues, etc. Fly in the night before, and maximize your chances!

8. Enter your courses properly
Take the time to double-check everything before you submit. AADSAS staff actually go over everything that you've submitted in terms of coursework to calculate your GPA's. If any discrepancies are noted, your application will definitely be delayed, and this is something that you don't want! Remember, early applications = better chances of admission, and as such, delays are bad! Be sure to include EVERY single course you have ever taken in college or university!

9. Keep in mind that it takes a while... and a few dates to know
AADSAS takes 1-2 months to process applications, so you may start getting antsy early on. If you've applied early, sit back and relax. Now you don't want to harass AADSAS staff either, but you should certainly call in and make sure everything is in order if you feel something isn't going the way you want it to. This is where the problems can occur, as AADSAS can take a while before notifying you that your application has been delayed. Make sure to read the instructions and submit everything accurately to prevent delays. AADSAS usually forwards the first batch of applications to dental schools in June. Be sure to be in this first batch by applying the first day! Also note that dental schools SEND OUT ACCEPTANCES as early as December 1st! Some even send them out earlier! This is why it's crucial to apply early :)

10. Letters of reference...
As of 2008, AADSAS only accepts 4 letters of reference from your evaluators. We suggest getting 3 from pure science professors, and 1 from a practicing dentist to meet requirements of application at most dental schools. Make sure they will be written by people who somewhat know you and like you! There's a lot of people out there who don't know what their evaluators wrote, and get screwed over because they actually weren't positive letters!

Last but not least... submit!
While we're all excited about finishing the application, some of us may forget to click that submit button. It happens. CLICK SUBMIT as soon as you're ready!

Good luck, everyone here at Top10Nation are here to help with any of your questions! Email us at toptennation@hotmail.com.

 
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