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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!

3 comments:

  1. How about an introductory sculpture or ceramics class? Most universities require some kind of fine art and a sculpture class should satisfy that while at the same time demonstrating to dental schools your ability to work with your hands. My sculpture class is all girls except for me and is a great creative/relaxing outlet.

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  2. This list and site are very thorough. I'm a predental student (biochem. major) and it's good to have a resourceful blog like this to help guide others, be it classes or admission tips. Thank you for your efforts.

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