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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, 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 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

Top 10: Ways to Save Money As A Dental Student

Dental school is a pricey proposition, and not many dental students are independently rich by any means. How can dental students save money throughout their four year journey? Go on and have a read, you might find something that can help you pinch those pennies! Most of everyone knows the basic ways of saving money, so here we're not going to give you the common ways of saving money, we're going to focus on ways that specifically dental students can use!

Top 10 Ways To Be Frugal As A Dental Student

1. Find roommates
Especially in larger and more expensive cities, finding roommates can save you a lot of cash over time. Not only do you split the rent, but you would also split the utilities, Internet, and other items that can all add up. In an ideal situation, fellow classmates should be roommates! The benefits are enormous. Not only do you save money, but fellow classmates can help you get up on time, help provide social support throughout those exam weeks, and much more. Since your schedules would correlate, they would be quiet during study crunch times, and they would be available to party when there isn't an exam in sight for some time to come! So how much money can this save you? A lot! I live in Boston, where rents can exceed $1000/month for studios, and I only pay $400/month, with 2 other roommates!

2. Scholarships, grants, free money
Find those websites, contact your Financial Aid office at your dental school, sign up, and apply as much as you can, to as many scholarships as you can! There is a lot of free money for dental students out there, and the more you apply, the more money you can get. It may be daunting to have to write essays for applications, but you have to have the tenacity to do it! Money for dental school is critical, especially since the tuition is so pricey, so don't let an essay or two get in your way. You should have enough training under your belt (from that year of English you took in college) to whip through these!

3. eBooks vs. paper textbooks
Although eBooks or digital textbooks are a popular option for dental students, we recommend buying paper textbooks, especially if your dental school forces you to buy textbooks. Most students never end up using textbooks, so paper textbooks can be re-sold at your will! eBooks like VitalSource, which a lot of dental schools are starting to offer are comparatively much more pricey because they can't be sold off to other students who want to get their hands on a textbook or two that you have! If your school doesn't force you to buy textbooks, that's all the better! Only buy what you need, and sell off textbooks quickly after you're done with them. You can try eBay and Amazon if you are having a hard time liquidating textbooks to other incoming students at your school. READ OUR WARNING about VitalSource and why you should not buy their digital textbooks.

4. Live as close as possible to school
This is an indirect way of saving a lot of money over time. If you are able to walk to school, you can save money on transportation costs right off of the bat. The other thing is, as a dental student, you quickly become busy on a daily basis, and a lot of dental students tend not to 'brown bag' their lunches after a while. Most try to at first, but time catches up to them, and most dental students who don't go home for lunch, tend to start buying lunches from the cafeteria everyday. This adds up! Being able to quickly walk home for lunch solves this bad habit of not packing your lunch. If you can walk home, make lunch, eat it, and head back to school after lunch on time, this is ideal! On top of that, you have an inherent advantage in other aspects, such as being able to collect forgotten instruments/documents at home, or being able to go and practice at school more frequently due to ready and convenient access.

5. Find a job? Earn some cash? Do it like only a dental student can!
It's hard to work and attend dental school at the same time, especially if you're trying to achieve good grades and plan to chase your dreams of specialization. You can earn money doing other things, such as participating in research studies at your dental school, or pawning off any gold crowns you've come across in your Oral Surgery rotations (with gold prices skyrocketing, this is totally a viable way to make cash - you should earn about $20 per pennyweight, or you're getting ripped off). Other ways to make money include working as a dental hygienist in your 3rd and 4th years. Consult your state dental legislation to see how to qualify. In some Northeastern states, a dental student simply needs to pass the periodontics section of the NERB exam to qualify to register as a dental hygienist. This can be done in 3rd year! Please leave comments below if you have other unique ways a dental student can save or earn money!

6. Cook your own food, most of the time...
It isn't as hard as it sounds, especially coming from me, a dental student who never had ANY cooking skills even a week before I started dental school. Use recipes online, or just stick to the basics. Easy meals include making pasta sauce by adding meat and other veggies, and then just adding it to the pasta of your choice. Stir-fries are simple and easy alongside rice. Sandwiches, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and salads are instant snacks that can keep you full all day. I highly recommend getting a George Foreman grill. You can make fish, pork chops, chicken breasts, and more quite easily! You can try a variety of marinades and sauces, and adding different veggies into your meals. This can be healthier than eating out all the time, and will save you a lot of money!

7. Partying, frugal style
I am notorious for being the cheap person who never buys drinks. I drink before leaving, and I carry a flask if I can! Drinks at bars and restaurants can add up quicker than some people imagine. On top of that, I don't go out to those fancy dental school sponsored gala's that can cost up to $60 for dinner and dancing. In fact, I rarely go out to places that even charge cover! Being frugal doesn't necessarily mean being totally anti-social. Most of everyone who go to dental school sponsored gala's and dinners end up at bars afterwards, and you can just join them there. Clubs and groups at dental schools usually have free entrance events regularly, and those are the best ones to attend!

8. Carry your student ID
Try to find places that accept your student ID for discounts. It's like a permanent coupon at some places around your campus, so this can be really useful for those days that you do decide to eat out!

9. Jump on piecework opportunities at your dental school
Dental schools occasionally need temporary workers to help administer large exams like the NERB or WREB, or to host large events like CE seminars and symposiums. These usually last for a day or two, and they pay you a set amount. It usually works as a first-come first-hired basis, so make sure to jump on these opportunities!

10. Attend as many Grand Rounds or Lunch and Learns as you can
Dental schools often have days where you are invited to attend a lecture or talk during lunch time or dinner time, and meals are served as a part of these talks. Even if you aren't interested in what is being said, go and eat for free! It might be rude, but if you're seriously not interested in what is being said, take your laptop and play some games or something while eating, but you might as well take advantage. Who knows, you might actually learn something while you're at it!

Have fun coming up with wild and wacky ways to save money in dental school! I know that my roommates/classmates and myself totally go out on a limb sometimes and do relatively weird things to save a buck or two! Let's hear what you've got to say, leave a comment with your tips to save $$$!

Top 10: Ways To Know If Dentistry Is Right For You

Dentistry is a profession which is difficult to comprehend for someone who may have had little exposure. Even for someone who has experience with dentistry, they will tell you that there is a great variation in the way each dentist or practitioner practices dentistry. There are many methods, and many products or instruments to accomplish the same task. So how do you know if dentistry is the right profession for you?

Top 10 Things To Do That Can Help You Determine If The Dental Profession Is A Right Choice For You

1. Shadow a dentist
Ask your dentist or a dentist in your area if you can observe them while at work. Keep in mind that there are many styles of dentistry practiced out there, so try to shadow a few dentists. Some dentists may have staff or patient interaction issues, while others may have a much more pleasant interaction with their staff and patients. Some may focus their efforts on a few fields within dentistry like endodontics (root canals) and orthodontics, while others may perform a little bit of everything. Most dentists are quite willing to have someone observe them. Just be polite and keep in mind that some patients may be unwilling to have an observer in the operatory, so you may have to step out for these patients.

2. Read up on dentistry
Dentistry is a rapidly changing profession, but the basics have remained the same for hundreds of years. Oral health is the basis for dentistry, and placing restorations and maintenance of oral health by performing necessary procedures and providing necessary advice/instruction is the bread and butter of this profession. Technology is integrated into this field as it becomes available. As a dental student, I see that there is a huge divide between what is taught in dental school, and what performing dentistry is actually like once you graduate. These are all points that you have to take into consideration while deciding your future. Dentistry isn't only performing clinical procedures either... it requires being a leader, a business manager, an HR coordinator, and much more rolled into one package. One of the primary ways you will get insight into what is required to succeed as a dentist is to read up on this profession.

3. Visit a dental laboratory
Dental labs are places where you will see all of the hard work performed by dental lab technicians. Dentures and crowns are processed here as well as much more. Keep in mind that you will have to perform some of this difficult lab work while in dental school, although clearly, once in practice, you will rely more on the dental labs to assist you in treating your patients. Dentistry isn't just about what you see in the dental office, and visiting a dental lab can help you experience all of the work required of the "dental team" that operates in the background. Quality is important. Find a dental lab that is recommended by a few dentists in your area before you decide to go in and observe.

4. Visit a school of dentistry
Schools of dentistry and dental medicine are more than happy to show young and interested students around. Potential candidates can usually go on tours and see students in action. If you plan to pursue dentistry, you might as well get a flavor of what will be expected of you in the future! Ask the faculty and the students questions of what they think about dentistry, and take every one's opinions and ideas seriously, as they can all give you a different perspective about the multi factorial nature of dentistry.

5. Join a pre-dental student club
I specifically recommend ASDA pre-dental clubs. These clubs sometimes have people come in and talk about their careers. They can answer your questions as well. You can talk to like-minded club members about what they have learned, and why they are interested in dentistry as well. All of this information can help you obtain your objective of discovering whether or not dentistry is right for you.

6. Talk to a Health Professions Advisor
Some universities have health professions advisors available that can assist you with obtaining information about dentistry and can help you reach a decision. Some advisors may not be as enthusiastic about dentistry as you would hope, so doing your own research may be just as helpful! Talking to an advisor can't hurt though, so if there is one available to you, take advantage.

7. Prioritize what you want in a career
Some people are looking for financial stability and others want a relaxed lifestyle. Some people are excited to deal with people, and others may be more happy to work with technology. Do you want to be your own boss? It requires a lot of work. Would you like to manage people? Dentistry requires a lot of attention to detail and fine motor skills and developed hand movements. Do you like working with your hands? Are you more interested in a certain aspect of medicine? Prioritizing and listing what things you want in a career can help you decide whether or not you would be more happy as an emergency room doctor or as a dentist or whatever it may be!

8. Compare
Once you have your prioritized list what what you want in a career... compare professions! Shadow all of the professions that you may be interested in. You may decide on something completely different at the end of your discovery process! Read up on multiple careers, and ask questions. Comparing and weighing what you are looking for can certainly help you decide if dentistry is the right choice for you!

9. Think
Are you committed to life-long learning? Are you committed to working hard for an extended period of time? Are you ready to deal with frustration surrounding a completely different way of being scrutinized? This is what dentistry is all about. Pre-dental students are used to multiple choice exams. There are plenty of those in dental school as well, but with the added stress of clinical exams. Most anyone can develop hand skills, but it requires many hours of practice. Most days in dental school require you to be there from 8am to 5pm. Staying after classes to practice is needed for most students to pass their clinical exams. Are you ready and willing to do what it takes?

10. Be sure of dentistry if you decide to apply
I wanted to add this small comment at the end of this list for those readers possibly interested in dentistry but have some doubts in their minds. Some students decide to pursue dentistry for superficial reasons, and they do not do enough research before they apply, get accepted, and enter dental school. These people are unhappy and eventually leave dental school or live an unhappy life. Dental school is expensive, so once you enter, it's a huge commitment. There are many ways to make money in life, and dentistry is not the end-all-be-all that some people may expect. Dentistry is a profession which is suited for people who actually enjoy assisting people with improving their oral health. If you aren't committed, it will certainly bear down on you. For those of you who know that this is what you want, go for it, you'll be happy with the choice you have made! Dentistry is a great profession!

I hope this helps, and as always, feel free to leave a comment, or email in a question for a private answer (

Top 10: Things That Canadians Want to Know When Applying to Dental School in the US

Students from Canada attempting to gain admission to dental schools in the United States may be confused with what is required of them, and whether or not they should decide to pursue this route. We are here to help with this information, because Canadian students are increasingly running an uphill battle to gain admission to Canadian dental schools with admission averages hovering anywhere between 3.6 to 3.9. The United States offers many more dental schools to choose from.

Top 10 Things That Canadian Applicants Want to Know About Attending Dental School in the US

1. Equivalency
By a reciprocal agreement, programs that are accredited by the American Dental Association are recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. Note that persons attending dental schools in the US and who intend to practice in Canada, should carefully investigate the requirements of the licensing jurisdiction where they wish to practice. Canadian students studying dentistry in the US should know that they are required to write the Canadian NDBE (Board Exams) to qualify to practice in Canada. Additionally, provinces in Canada generally require a jurisprudence exam before a dentist is licenced to practice in that respective province. Please check the requirements for your province before pursuing this route. Keep in mind that Canadian dental students write the exact same examinations regardless, as they need to qualify in the exact same manner.

2. DAT Exam
Canadian students can be relieved to know that most Canadian-friendly US dental schools accept the Canadian DAT examination. Also keep in mind that because the US DAT does not have a soap carving section, most US dental schools tend to overlook this section, even if you have a failing score in this section. There are some US dental schools that don't accept the Canadian DAT, in which case, Canadian students can easily write the US DAT at any Prometric Centre in Canada during any available day. Unlike the Canadian DAT, the US DAT can be written pretty much anytime. Generally, writing the US DAT for successful Canadian applicants to the US is NOT required.

3. Canadian-friendly US dental schools
Which US dental schools are Canadian-friendly, and what do we mean by this? Dental schools, like any other professional schools sometimes have quotas as to how many international applicants they can accept. Most state-sponsored dental schools heavily favor in-state applicants only and don't accept international students from Canada. So which US dental schools are the best bet for Canadian applicants? Mostly the large private dental schools. This is because private dental schools generally don't care where their students come from. They are not state-sponsored, so they have no requirements as to how many in-state applicants they need to accept. Top 10 Nation recommends applying to the following US dental schools for Canadian applicants IN THIS PRIORITY ORDER: Boston University, New York University, Tufts University, University of the Pacific, Temple University, University of Detroit Mercy, and Case Western Reserve University. There may be other schools that accept large numbers of Canadians, and we will update this list as required. Western University has not been verified but potentially accepts many Canadians as well. The downside to applying to private dental schools? The cost. We request that any Canadian dental students currently studying in the US contact us or leave a comment to verify and update this information. We appreciate everyone's input in this matter.

4. Semester hour credits
Some Canadian undergraduate universities calculate their credit systems for every course a bit oddly and when you end up converting to the US system, some students end up having 0.5 or 1 credit less than required for any given course. This can be problematic when it involves pre-requisite courses. This is a difficult topic to clarify, and this would require a personalized list for every university in Canada, so our goal here is just to bring this to your attention before it hits you as a surprise. If all of this doesn't make sense, take a look at the AADSAS website and figure out how to calculate your school's credit system to the AADSAS method.

5. F-1 Visa eligibility
Canadian students sometimes wonder how the Visa process works when attending dental school in the US. In a post-9/11 world, this is becoming increasingly a concern for everyone who constantly needs to cross the Canadian-US border. Rest assured though that most Canadian dental students in the US have no issues. Dental schools generally handle the bulk of the work required on your behalf and assist you with obtaining your Visa. Generally, a sponsor letter is required from your parents stating that they will financially support your endeavor. Additionally, a letter may be required proving that you have the financial means to afford dental school in the US. The easiest way to do this is to obtain the minimum required funds as stated, place these funds into a bank account, and to obtain a letter from the bank stating the balance.
*UPDATE:* Canadian students attending US schools under a F-1 Visa may be subjected to fingerprinting (all 10 fingerprints), and laptop searches. There has been no instances of this to our knowledge involving dental students, however, news reports reveal this to be up and coming.

6. Obtaining necessities in the US
A bank account, a cell phone, and other necessities are sometimes difficult to obtain when you are new to a foreign country. Although Canada and the US are very similar, not having a SSN or Social Security Number can cause issues while trying to obtain bank accounts and cell phones and similar necessities. The solution? Talk to the International Students Office at the dental school you eventually decide to attend. They can assist you with finding companies that are willing to help international students obtain the products they need, without all the hassle required with most companies.

7. Employment?
Thinking about working during dental school to help you pay those hefty private tuition costs? Again, refer to the International Students Office, as they can help you acquire a SSN and a job. Laws may require that you can only work at an on-campus location. Keep in mind though that the large majority of dental students are too busy to work while attending dental school, especially if they are pursuing higher grades for possible post-graduate residency spots.

8. Pre-professional committee reference letter
Certain US dental schools will state that they require a letter from a committee that deals with pre-dental or pre-medical students. Canadian universities tend not to have these committees. Don't fret. A lot of colleges in the US don't have these either. Simply substitute this requirement with a reference letter from a pure-science professor. Dental schools are aware that some undergraduate colleges don't have these committees.

9. Prestige
This issue derives from some Canadian students feel that going to the US for dental school is problematic as people in Canada may assume that international or US-trained dentists are inferior to Canadian-trained dentists. Some students can also feel that going to the US for dental school is for those students who couldn't make it into a Canadian dental school. This is a huge myth perpetuated by a competitive undergraduate culture in Canadian universities by students who don't know any better. US dental schools may be more costly, but are excellent schools and in general, the Canadian population does not care which dental school you went to, as long as you are qualified to practice dentistry. In fact, Canadian patients may prefer US-trained dentists, and certainly, a US dental training background can be a source of conversation into the future. Expect world-class education in the US that is respected world-wide.

10. Culture shock?
Not really... a lot of students wonder if studying in the US is all that different from Canada, and the answer is 'not really.' US schools have more of a sports-oriented culture with a focus on football instead of ice hockey, and a tremendous focus on fraternities and sororities in comparison to Canada. Canadians may initially find that interactions with the public in the US are slightly different. Generally it may seem as if people are not as polite and that people are in more of a rush. It's not a big deal, you'll get acclimated in no time. Just make sure to bring some Tim Horton's coffee beans or something with you, although certain northern states like Ohio do have a Timmy's here and there.

Good luck to you Canadians, eh?

Top 10: Easiest US Dental Schools to Get Into for International or Foreign Trained Dentists (admissions)

THIS LIST IS SPECIFICALLY FOR INTERNATIONAL DENTAL PROGRAMS (IDP's) or ADVANCED STANDING PROGRAMS (AS). First off, it should be made clear that no dental school is easy to gain admission into. This ranking is about the easier dental schools that international students worried about admission should aim to include on their application lists. For graduates of accredited undergraduate universities applying to 4-year DDS or DMD programs, see our 'Easiest US Dental Schools to Get Into' post. Information provided here is approximate (but as accurate as possible) and is updated as required. Thank you for turning to Top 10 Nation for this important information. International or foreign-trained dentists, especially from areas such as India, Korea, Latin America, and the Middle East are looking for the easiest dental schools in the United States to apply to. Which schools have the easiest path to acceptance and admission for these already-trained dentists? Keep reading...

Top 10 Best Dental Schools to Apply To For Foreign or Internationally Trained Dentists as of 2008

With approximately 125 seats for Advanced Placement students, this large program is the leading favorite for international students. The biggest disadvantage to this program is that it is a THREE YEAR PROGRAM.
Minimum's for Application: NBDE Part I: Pass (Average 87), TOEFL: 230.
Advantages: Easy admission, large Advanced Placement class means many peers to work with, state-of-the-art clinical facilities.
Disadvantages: 3-year program makes it a year longer than most other programs, highest tuition/fees at $66,746/year, with the added relatively high cost of living in New York City ($31,351/year).

2. Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine Advanced Standing Program (BU Dental)
Definitely the best (easiest) choice for international dentists seeking a two-year program in the United States. With approximately 65 seats available, many students are interviewed and accepted. Read our Top 10 Reasons to attend BU Dental.
Minimum's for Application: NBDE Part I: 85 or higher, TOEFL: 250 or higher.
Advantages: Relatively easy admission for a large 2-year program, large Advanced Standing class means many peers to work with, relatively more affordable tuition, student-friendly environment, supportive faculty.
Disadvantages: Still has a high tuition/fees at $64,511/year (cost of living expenses not available), clinical facilities are lacking with more chairs for students required.

3. University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine Program for Advanced Standing Students (UPenn)
Ranked as our Top 7th Best Dental School in the US or Canada. This top-tier school has 26 seats available for foreign trained dentists.
Minimum's for Application: NBDE Part I: 85 or higher (average 89), TOEFL: 220 or higher, GPA: 3.0+.
Advantages: Top-tier school ranked at #7 across the country, 2-year program.
Disadvantages: Still has a high cost at approximately $83,000/year for fees and living expenses, clinical facilities are lacking, although a new clinical facility did open in 2002.

4. University of Southern California, School of Dentistry Advanced Standing Program (USC Dental)
This 32-seat program offers a relatively large number of seats and Southern California weather. Qualified applicants will be required to attend an on-campus technical exam and written exam.
Minimum's for Application: NBDE Part I: Pass, TOEFL: 250 or higher.
Advantages: 2-year program, strong clinical emphasis.
Disadvantages: Problem-based learning cirriculum means no structured classes, with an emphasis on 'self-learning,' high-crime location, tuition and living expneses cost in the range of $95,000/year.

This program admits 24 foreign trained dentists as students each year. Tuition alone for this school is approx. $16,000/quarterly or $64,000/year. Living expenses are not available. Qualified applicants will be required to attend an on-campus technical exam and written exam.
Minimum's for Application: NBDE Part I: 83 or higher, TOEFL: 240 or higher.
Advantages: 2-year program, decent clinical exposure, California climate.
Disadvantages: High cost of living, may be difficult to acquire patients.

Note that Visa students are not accepted for this 24-seat program, residency is a requirement. Minimum's for Application: NBDE Part I: Pass, TOEFL: 213 or higher.
Advantages: 2-year program, relatively easy acceptance for residents or citizens of the US.
Disadvantages: Total tuition costs are in the range of $83,000/year.

This 22-seat program offers an exciting program in the warm sunny weather of California. Read our Top 10 Reasons to attend UoP Dental.
Minimum's for Application: NBDE Part I: 80 or higher, TOEFL: 237 or higher.
Advantages: 2-year program, strong clinical emphasis, friendly faculty environment.
Disadvantages: Total tuition costs are in the range of $90,000/year, with living costs in the range of $25,000/year making this one of the most expensive IDP schools.

8. Loma Linda University, School of Dentistry, International Dentist Program (LLU Dental)
This 16-seat program is at a Christian-based university.
Minimum's for Application: NBDE Part I: 81, Part II: 79, TOEFL: 213 or higher.
Advantages: 2-year program, total tuition costs around $50,000/year, large patient availability.
Disadvantages: Seventh-day Adventist (Christian religious) ideals are integrated into the cirriculum.

9. University of Pittsburgh, School of Dental Medicine International Advanced Standing Program (UPitt Dental)
This 10-seat program is at an overall high-ranking university. This school requires a bench testing pre-clinical exercise as a part of it's admission process.
Minimum's for Application: NBDE Part I: Pass, Part II: Pass, TOEFL: 250 or higher.
Advantages: 2-year program, generally regarded as a higher-end school.
Disadvantages: Total tuition costs around $73,000/year.

10. Tufts University, School of Dental Medicine Dental International Student Program (Tufts Dental)
This 14-seat program offers exciting courses in fields such as implantology.
Minimum's for Application: NBDE Part I: 90, Part II: 85, TOEFL: 233 or higher.
Advantages: 2.3-year program, generally regarded as a higher-end school in terms of clinical and research exposure.
Disadvantages: Is at the bottom of this list, and is generally harder to gain admission into. Generally in the range of $80,000/yearly, note that the additional 0.3 years adds an additional $40,000/year cost.

All of this information was correct at the time of posting, however, this information changes constantly. If you notice something that is incorrect, please leave a comment! Good luck from all of us at Top 10 Nation.

Top 10: Classes or Courses That You Can Take That Can Prepare You For Success in Dental School

There are a lot of students out there who (for a lack of better things to do) want to know how they can prepare for success in dental school. If you want my advice, I suggest relaxing before dental school and forgetting about taking classes to prepare yourself. You'll have plenty of time to study in dental school and not enough time to relax. Regardless, you may want to know about which courses that you can take that will help you succeed in dental school. Please note that I am aware that a lot of these classes are probably pre-requisites for admission to dental school. This Top 10 List refers to upper-level courses that are considered electives in terms of gaining admission.

Top 10 Undergraduate Classes or Courses That Will Be Helpful in Dental School

1. Microbiology and Virology
Gram positive or Gram negative. Cocci or rods. Encapsulated or naked. Biomedical sciences are heavy in dental school and knowing your microbes and viruses as well as fungi beforehand can help you get an edge in dental school. You will likely have to take a microbiology course in your first year of dental school, but it doesn't end there. The US NBDE Part 1 examines this subject. Periodontology continues to demand this knowledge throughout your clinical years as well. Pathology will also push you to learn more about microbes and infectious organisms. Knowing your microbiology and virology will help you succeed.

2. Human Anatomy (Emphasis on neuroanatomy)
Dental students, like medical students, must learn neuroanatomy. Dental students have the added stress of focusing on the nerves of the neck and head - one of the most complex areas of the human body. Knowing your cranial nerves I-XII and your spinal tracts beforehand will help you be prepared for the onslaught dental school will throw your way. Most schools also have a cadaver lab. Being able to recognize anatomical structures on an actual human specimen will help you gain a greater knowledge of what to expect in dental school.

3. Biomedical Latin and Greek
This is something I am very glad that I took in undergrad. Biological sciences comprises of an almost seperate language in and of itself. This even helped me for the US NBDE Part I. Half of knowing the subject is knowing what the words mean, and this chore becomes much easier to accomplish if you have an understanding of why certain words are used to describe biological phenomena. It's much easier to break down components of latin and greek terms instead of memorizing large words. Thrombocytopenia? It's just another word to study and memorize if you don't know basic latin. If you know basic latin, you don't even need to bother looking this word up... you already know what this condition is!

4. Biochemistry
Knowing metabolism, DNA, RNA, and other regulated processes in the body are crucial to your success in dental school. If you don't know what the Kreb Cycle, or the Cori Cycle, or the Urea Cycle or the Pentose Phosphate pathway is, you should probably take some advanced biochemistry courses. This course takes a lot of memorizing to get by... might as well get started now if you don't have anything better to do.

5. Cell Biology
For obvious reasons. The human body comprises of cells, and healthcare professionals need to know cells and their signalling methods and processes very well. A large number of subjects relate to this including pathology and pharmacology in dental school.

6. Physiology
Physiology is one of the more difficult courses, at least it is at the dental school I went to. It's a subject that sort of links everything you know (and will learn) to how things physically operate in the human body. It's also a subject that is tested on the NBDE Part 1.

7. Pathology (Oral Pathology if possible)
I'm not sure how many undergraduate courses are available on pathology, but there might be a few universities out there that offer it. If this is offered, you should definitely try taking it. This is one of the toughest subjects that you will encounter in dental school. Any prior exposure to this subject will definitely help!

8. Endocrinology
The hormones that signal processes in the human body are important to know, especially because they can have implications upon the oral cavity. As a future dentist, you would probably want to know how things like how pregnancy induced gingival conditions occur. This subject is covered in dental school, but again, if you take this class, it will be easier to swallow in dental school as it is presented to you again!

9. Introduction to Business*
I included the last 2 of this Top 10 List as a special category. Knowing how a business operates is especially important for dentists because eventually, most dentists open a practice. Business fundamentals are not covered thoroughly in dental school and dental students clamour to take any available business or practice managment elective education they can get their hands on. Do yourself a favor and take this class while you have the oppurtunity to do so.

10. Introduction to Accounting*
Accounting essentially relates to the business side of dentistry again. Although business and accounting won't help you succeed in dental school, they will definitely help you succeed as dentists! Consider taking this course as a foundation of knowledge that you can fall back on as you might decide to open your own practice (small business) one day!

Top 10: Ways or Methods on HOW To Do Well on the DAT

Inquiring minds want to know about what methods lead to good results on the DAT!
The DAT is a comprehensive exam and covers a lot of material. You may feel lost or confused as you begin to look at the breadth of the information examined. How do you start? What is the best way of going about it? Please note that the DAT is relatively easy to pass. Passing is not the goal of this examination, you must do relatively well on this exam to be considered for admission to dental schools in the US and Canada. What kind of a score are you aiming for? I would suggest at least a 20 or more in each section should be your goal. Canadian readers should note that the Canadian DAT does not include an organic chemistry section but does include a soap carving manual dexterity section. The soap carving will be covered under the last point on this list as a special category.

Top 10 Methods on How You Can Do Well on the DAT Examination and Score High

1. Get your bearings straight
This exam is NOT DIFFICULT. Keep in mind that for most pre-dental students, this exam is simply a review of what you have already learned. In fact, for most biology majors, the exams you encountered in class are much more difficult than the questions you will encounter on the DAT. Start by doing some old exam questions. You can find these in a multitude of places - try doing a simple Google search (feel free to use the Google search provided on this site above). A quick search will yield a few sites that can provide you with samples of the types of questions asked. If you feel lost at this point, be prepared to study a bit harder. Keep in mind that dental schools have pre-requisite courses, and these courses are the foundation for this exam. Just as an aside, you should try to study in the range of at at least 1-2 months or more for this exam. Keep yourself organized, and write down your goals as you go along...

2. Kaplan DAT Blue Book
The infamous Kaplan blue book for the DAT. Purchase it and use it. Personally, this book was the ONLY STUDY MATERIAL THAT I USED (I am a dental student, I achieved about an average of 23 per section, my lowest score was in the perceptual ability test in which I scored a 19). I borrowed mine from a friend who already took the exam. It was a few years old and it did not matter at all that it was an older book. Don't get me wrong, stick to a recent version of this study book, but don't be so concerned that you feel that you have to go out and get the most recent version to get a solid score. If you are a strong student, read this book once and you should get in the range of 18-20 per section. Read it twice and you should do really well. If you are the type of person who requires more studying time than your peers, you may want to consider some of the other options presented in this Top 10 list as well. I am not in any way affiliated to Kaplan. I simply know this book to be the best resource available for people who want to study the least amount of time and have the highest score.

2. Get access to the Kaplan DAT Quiz Bank
I never did this myself, however, I have friends who got access to the quiz bank available through Kaplan and have highly recommended it. What's the point? The strength of this quiz bank lies in the sample chemistry questions. Organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry isn't fun and the best way to do well in these sections is to do lots of questions and to get a sense of what is going on.

3. Realize that time is a factor
For most exams you might have encountered up to this point, time may have not been a factor. For the DAT, it can be a problem. Do your research! Read the DAT Examinee Guide provided by the ADA. Each section is timed, and you may run out of time easily. Learn to manage your time and answer questions not only accurately, but quickly.

4. Barron's DAT Book
I have not used this book myself, but again, insiders recommend this book strongly for the PAT section. The PAT section requires a certain specialized knowledge that one can obtain by practicing constantly. This book gives you the BEST EDGE that you can get for the perceptual ability test section of the DAT. Please note that due to some biomedical or hormonal, or unknown reason, females tend to do poorer on this section than males. I am a strong proponent of getting more females into dental school :) Females should strongly look into getting their hands on this book to improve their PAT section scores.

5. Do NOT take a DAT tutoring course
Well, unless you seriously have no motivation on your own. In which case, you should reconsider your choice to go on into dental school anyways. If you need a tutoring course that bad, then keep in mind that dental school will likely be the hardest thing you will encounter in your life. You won't have the chance to get tutoring to make your way through dental school. So save your money and dig that motivation out of that cave now, because this is just the beginning. You should not need to take any expensive tutoring courses to do well on this examination. For the rest of you who still think this is bad advice... if you have money to waste, and if you like the structure of a classroom to motivate you, a DAT course won't hurt, so go for it!

6. Join a pre-dental society
Pre-dental student clubs or associations at your school may be holding mock DAT exams. These mock exams can help you prepare for the exam day by letting you experience first-hand what it feels like to be examined for so long. These are better than setting exams up yourself because you don't have the option of 'cheating' and taking quick breaks here and there! Top 10 Nation personally recommends local pre-dental ASDA (American Student Dental Association) chapters for pre-dental students who are looking for support.

7. Set up mock exams for yourself
The same reasoning applies here, especially if you don't have the oppurtunity to join a pre-dental student society. A few mock exams interspersed into your study schedule can help you greatly. This is especially important for those students who may tend to get anxious during exams. Do yourself a favor and don't take breaks when you are not supposed to.

8. Take the optional break
There is an optional break somewhere in the middle of the exam. Take this optional break, even if you think you don't need to. Just relax and maybe have a bite to eat. It will give your brain a chance to rest, and a small bite can refuel your body and mind. Some people tend to skip this break, but my advice is to take the break to its fullest extent. Also be sure to take a sweater with you as the testing room may be chilly.

9. Realize that it is hard to study for Reading Comprehension
It's practically pointless to study for this. If you struggle with this section in mock test scenarios, consider completing more English courses before you take the DAT. Actually I don't really know what else to suggest when it comes to this part. It takes a long time to develop these skills, not a short stint reading some book full of hints. English, biomedical terminology, and vocabulary skills may help to improve your performance on this section of the DAT.

10. *For Canadian DAT takers only * Practice carving by purchasing soap and equipment from the CDA
Purchase the soap and knife directly from the CDA. This will be the same soap that you will get during the DAT. Use only the recommended sharpie to mark up the soap, as this is the only writing tool that you may use during the exam. Purchase any DAT carving study book to help you get through this section. Any relevant study book will help show you techniques to mark up and carve the soap. Keep in mind that courses are sometimes offered to help with this section, I suggest them especially if you think that this section may pose difficulty for you. Practice makes perfect, and hardly anyone is perfect at first. Also stay on top of rules governing this section, as I am aware that certain aspects such as the permission to wear latex or nitrile gloves during this examination section may change.

There you have it! With this advice, and your good head on your shoulders, you shouldn't need any good luck, but here it is anyways... Good luck from everyone at Top 10 Nation!

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