How To Become a Dental Assistant

There are a lot of jobs in medicine that most people never come into contact with. However, almost everyone has seen a dental assistant at some point in their life. Almost every dental office needs them in order to succeed. This explains why there is a large demand for them, especially now that many practices are beginning to reopen after the pandemic.


Unlike other medical professions, dental assistants do not require attending a higher education institution. The majority of programs last anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. During these programs you will learn the different softwares that offices use such as Eaglesoft and Dentrix. Additionally, some schools will have their own equipment and dummies to work on so that you will be able to smoothly transition into an office setting. What makes transitions even easier is that many programs require some amount of clinical hours in order to graduate. This not only allows you to be better prepared but also means that you get your foot in the door with a dental practice even before becoming certified. However, you don’t actually have to become certified or have previous experience. That being said, most dental offices highly prefer someone with proven chairside skills.



There are a multitude of titles out there, but the two most common are registered dental assistants (RDAs) and certified dental assistants (CDAs). The main difference between them is that becoming a certified dental assistant allows you to practice nationwide while RDAs can only practice where they have completed the state-specific requirements. In fact, some states do not even recognize RDAs at all and therefore must obtain a certification in order to work. If you are interested in beginning a program, make sure you also know the difference between being a certified dental assistant and having a certification in dental assisting. While sounding basically identical to each other, they are not the same thing. Any program can give out a certificate for completing it, even if it is just a week long. To become certified you must take the Dental Assisting National Board’s (DANB). Most accredited programs offer this at the end of the education, however not all schools are accredited so do your research before enrolling in one. If the school is not accredited or you were just trained while at a practice it is still possible to become certified once you complete two years of work.https://www.traditionrolex.com/36


As a dental assistant, you will have some interaction with the patients, however not as much as a hygienist. Assistants often prep rooms, sanitize equipment, room patients, and of course, assist the dentist when needed. There are both regular dental assistants as well as expanded function dental assistants. Expanded function assistants can do everything a normal assistant can as well as place sealants and certain types of fillings. As you might expect, you must first become a certified dental assistant before moving on to an expanded function assistant. Additionally, you must work for two years as an assistant before becoming licensed as an expanded function DA. Another thing to be aware of is the existence of both 4 handed and 6 handed dentistry. This, however, should not affect how you go about becoming a dental assistant. There are few differences between them.

Earning Potential:

Like hygienists, dental assistants are extremely important and in demand which is great news. Even better, the average salary for an assistant is $18/hr but may vary depending on location. Considering that education does not take years to complete nor will you come out thousands of dollars in debt, it is a great option for people who are looking for an alternative to the standard 4 years of college. Combine that with a competitive salary and a growing field, becoming a dental assistant is a great choice for a lot of people. If you do the math, you can make back the tuition cost of many assisting programs in just a few weeks to months. If you are in the Chicago area, make sure to check out the Dental Assistant Academy of Chicago. Not only are their facilities top notch, but they also have an extremely high placement rate. 


5 Industry Changing Events the Pandemic Has Had on Dental

Much of the world hit pause when COVID-19 began spreading in early 2020. Unfortunately, even as medical professionals, many dental offices had to temporarily close their doors to their patients. As a new normal became evident, some offices have been able to reopen with precautions in place to protect staff and patients. However, not all practices have been so lucky. Many have closed down for good and others still sit by, waiting and hoping for their chance to get back into business.

Precautionary Measures

Due to the innate close proximity that occurs during dental work, there is an increased risk for both staff and patients of transmitting the disease. This has led to temperature checks, pre-visit screens, and countless other measures taken by offices in hopes of returning back to their normal work flow. On the dentist side, unfortunately standard surgical facemasks are not effective at preventing the spread of submicron particles like that of COVID-19. The top concern for dental professionals coming back to work is whether or not they will have adequate PPE so that they can go home to their families safely, knowing that they were protected. Therefore, most providers have transitioned to wearing plastic face shields, N95 masks, and goggles. All of these can prevent the spread but can be uncomfortable and intrusive when wearing for the entire day.

The Dental Office Reimagined

In addition to personal protective equipment, some offices have had to rethink their layout. As the virus has proven to be transmitted via aerosol particles, the air flow and ventilation of a dental practice can also be important. Some practices are not adapting properly to the necessary changes and dental assistants as well as hygienists are unhappy. No one wants to be forced to work in an unsafe environment. If you are finding yourself in this situation, don’t be afraid to look around for other openings. Some practices are expanding and actively looking to add to their team.

Expect a Changing Workforce

When it comes to the workers in the dental office, many people are hesitant to come back to work. During the early stages of the shutdown, many practice members were furloughed. Now as offices start to open back up, there has been an increase in open positions. However, some workers believe that they should be paid more due to the increased health risk which has led to some tension. Many practices are still trying to recover from the several months of no income at all. This has led some previous employees to look elsewhere for work. While this is unfortunate, a new market for people straight out of school or those with little experience has arisen.

Managing Health Disparities

While things are changing within dental offices, there have also been some changes with the patient base as well. Similar to other statistics, coronavirus has sadly increased the disparities of oral health between socioeconomic classes. Minority and poor populations have significantly less access to proper oral health care. Without insurance, these populations are unable to pay for proper care out of pocket. Even before the pandemic, there were statistically more instances of tooth decay and oral cancer among these groups. For many, they must choose between their health and putting food on the table. In addition to limited access, going into public spaces, including the dental office, has become a dangerous activity for many people who are at increased risk of infection. This has led to significant developments in a relatively new field: telemedicine.

The Increasing Need for Teledentistry


Unlike some other medical fields, dental can not easily be transitioned to virtual. First of all, it is basically impossible for us or a dentist to see clearly inside our mouth over something like Zoom. Additionally, almost every service a dental office provides requires specific tools, and more importantly are very hands on. However, due to the pressure to maintain business, there has been progress in the success of teledentistry as practices have been forced to adapt. This can have implications even after COVID as it may provide a cheaper and more readily accessible alternative for underserved communities. While some dentists may be reluctant to try teledentistry, it can be beneficial for everyone moving forward. At the very least many offices have begun incorporating virtual triaging so that patients do not enter the office until they are ready to be seen. Don’t think of being asked to wait outside as rude as it helps keep everyone safer so that the dentist can provide better care.

Everyone is adapting to a new normal and that includes the dental field. After several months of being closed down, offices are slowly coming back but facing many challenges. The workforce is shifting and precautions are becoming standard. It is important to be open to changes so that practices can continue to provide care for as many people as possible.


Why You Should Be Using a Staffing Firm

While we are a staffing firm connecting dental offices primarily with dental assistants and hygienists, there are agencies that cover just about any field imaginable. Whether you are a job seeker or an employer, you know that the hiring process sucks. For companies, it can be expensive and time consuming. For applicants, several aspects make the situation extremely stressful as well as time consuming. This is where staffing firms come in. They help both sides by streamlining the process and making sure everyone’s time is spent as efficiently as possible regardless of which side of the table you sit on.

Employer Benefits:

Companies can save time and money by using staffing firms. These agencies have an ever-growing network of candidates that they can use to help quickly fill positions. Additionally, they are well versed in the hiring process as it is their job; it’s what they do every day. If done independently by businesses, employers take the long, tedious path to hire the correct person, often without the knowledge or resources needed to ensure efficiency. On top of that, this means that the business is actively drawing a team member’s time and energy away from other responsibilities.

No matter what the professional field is, the first step in hiring is forming a description of the open position. Not only does it take time to write up an attractive job post, but it’s crucial to find the correct place to post it. Many of the online places where job openings are put do not have a specialized applicant pool, especially the free ones. This means that there will be more resumes to comb through and fewer qualified applicants. That being said, businesses also have the ability to pay to post their jobs. Whether that means putting them at the top of the results for a general site or allowing them to be seen on specialized job boards, this can quickly run a company hundreds of dollars for just one post without a guarantee of quality candidates.

Ok, sure it’s tough to get applicants, but now that you have them the rest of the process should run smoothly, right? The unfortunate truth is that there are many people out there who are qualified candidates but are not responsive. This means that even after paying for a specialized post and vetting through hundreds of resumes, businesses still have to go through the hassle of contacting the applicants. Staffing firms bypass this massive headache by only connecting you with the most responsible, qualified, and professional candidates.

But how can staffing firms save a company money if they charge them a fee for their services? Well the hiring process is not what it was forty years ago. There are a lot of steps and expenses associated with hiring someone. In a 
study done in 2016 it was found that companies spend on average about $4,130 to hire a single employee in 42 days. These costs can easily go up if the wrong person is hired causing more problems in the long run. Staffing firms can not only help bring that number down but also make sure that the business is getting as much as possible out of the money that they do spend. Over time relationships between companies and staffing firms can strengthen, giving businesses confidence that they will get the best results. 

Job Seeker Benefits:

Looking for a job can be time consuming. There are a million different job posting sites out there so how do you know where to look? On top of that, some businesses don’t even post on these sites and you have to find their openings some other way. It can be stressful not knowing whether you are seeing all the open positions, especially with the varying requirements and filters used on the sites. This often leads to people applying to any job they can possibly find, regardless of relevance to their skillset or preferences. One of the best ways to make everything easier is to use a staffing firm.

Constantly looking for and applying to new positions can seem futile, especially if you never hear back from the hiring company. Staffing firms can help find more positions that better fit you as they likely have more knowledge about the job search process than your average applicant. When using these agencies, you are not limited to applying to each job one by one. Rather it is their job to look through hundreds of jobs that may be possible fits. What is important is that when they do finalize the positions for you, you’ll know that you are a truly competitive candidate for each one.

When you use a staffing agency, you add to the number of people working in your corner. In order for them to get paid, they need to provide companies with quality candidates that fit their requirements. Therefore, they don’t just want you to succeed, they need you to. The quicker and more appropriate place that they can place you, the better for them. This is done by getting to know what you are looking for and what your background looks like.

It’s difficult to not get lost in the pile of applicants. Staffing firms provide the chance to be put on the top. This can be because of either the relationships they have with specific companies they are partnered with or just the reputation of being a staffing agency. This gets your resume viewed quicker and by far more businesses than if you were to apply by yourself. Many of these firms also provide some sort of help with interviewing and polishing up your resume so that when you do get matched, you have the best chance of getting placed.

TLDR; Staffing firms can save hiring companies time and money whether large or small. On the job seeker end, you have the ability to be placed at more positions as well as only being matched with places that fit your preferences and needs. In general, the entire hiring process is streamlined for both sides.


Which Intraoral Scanner is Best for You?

Organizing the Mess – Our Criteria

By now there are a lot of intra-oral scanners on the market and little to no reviews on them. The only “reviews” are from the manufacturers themselves touting their own scanners while forgetting to mention the pros and cons of each and everyone. We’ve decided to rank them all from the best value to the worst value so that you know what intraoral scanner would be best for your practice.

With so many scanners on the market, it’s hard to figure out what scanner is best fit for your practice. Here, we will rank all the scanners based on 6 criteria:

(1) Scan Quality

(2) Build Quality

(3) User Interface

(4) Ease of Use

(5) Unique Features

(6) Price

We aren’t affiliated with any one company nor are we endorsed by any. These are our opinions on what the best scanner would be for your practice.

Straight to the Point

The 10 most popular intraoral scanners on the market are:

Dentsply Sirona’s Primescan

Medit’s i500

3shape’s Trios

Planmeca’s Emerald S

Carestream’s CS 3700

Itero’s Intra Oral Scanner

GC America’s Aadva

Straumann’s Virtuo Vivo

Midmark’s True Definition

Shining 3D’s Intra Oral Scanner

The question is… which one will be the best investment for your practice? We’ll outline it here for you so you can make the best informed decision.

#1 Best Intraoral Scanner – The Medit i500

(1) Scan Quality – 5/5

The scanning quality of the i500 Medit rivals that of the big brand names like Trios and Dentsply Sirona. From single unit crowns to multi-unit bridges to partial frameworks and implants, the i500 Medit can scan it all in a speedy fashion. At this point in time, all scanners should be able to scan a full arch without any trouble. The i500 Medit is no exception. Color and shading match is accurate to a point. Sometimes the end user may need to adjust the computer generated shade matching; however this is seldom the case. The digital scan itself is highly accurate with precise measurements.

(2) Build Quality – 4.5/5

Although not the most premium feeling scanner on the market, who really cares? The scanner is light, durable, and sleek. Made out of plastic material, this scanner is probably the most simple scanner you can get on the market without losing quality and speed. The product comes with 4 extra scanner tips, which last around 100 scans depending on how you sanitize the scanner tips after every scan. The scanner also comes in many small boxes in an Apple like design. The scanner may not be made out of the best material, but it still feels good in your hands while you scan.

(3) User Interface – 5/5

Their Medit Link computer software is Free. No Annual Fee. No Monthly Fee. No Dongle. Is there any more to say? The software can easily be downloaded on any compatible computer and you can start scanning and creating digital files right away. You don’t have to worry about changing dongles or having an account code number associated with your scanner. The scanning user interface is intuitive to use and really easy to teach assistants to maneuver. Medit usually updates the software every couple of months or so and does not charge for it.

(4) Ease of Use – 5/5

There isn’t much else to say here. The scanner is fast, small, and captures accurate information. Doctors’ who already have the Medit barely complain and the scanner rarely has any issues in terms of use.

(5) Unique Features – 3/5

Needless to say, intraoral scanners are just cameras on a wand. There’s not much else to it. Some other scanners have unique features, but nothing in the Medit i500 is unique to its own. Everything the Medit does, everyone else can do. The Medit can do A.I. Abutment & A.I. Scan Body Matching. It can also do Margin Line Creation, Pre-Operation Scan, Impression Scan, High Resolution Scan, Occlusion Analysis, and Scan Replay. Again, nothing fancy here except for the basic features you should expect in a scanner.

(6) Price – 5/5

The dental world makes it hard to find the best and most accurate prices for any sort of dental equipment. However, with our research, the i500 Medit goes for MSRP of about $18,000-$20,000. That’s not bad considering you get the quality and speed of the high end intra oral scanners without breaking your back for one.

Cons – Because of Medit’s late entry into the intraoral scanner market, there are still some kinks that need to be fixed with the software. Sometimes, the scanner misreads and creates a double layer of an impression causing the doctor to start the scan all over. Although it is rare, it is definitely something to note when buying the scanner because patient time and your time is precious. Additionally, the scanner does not come with a computer, stand, or touch screen.. so if you want the luxury of looking really cool in front of your patient or mobility, you will not get it with the i500 unless you retrofit a DIY stand.

Who this Scanner is for – It’s for the doctors who want to have the highest quality scanner they can get without breaking their bank. The Medit i500 scan quality rivals that of Trios and others but doesn’t charge you so much for it. It’s a great starter scanner or it can be the scanner you embrace. Regardless, this is the best scanner for your buck. From no annual fees to simple ease of use, it’s no wonder the i500 Medit has been selling like hotcakes.


Preparing For a Dental Job Interview:

Interviewing for a job in dental is a little different than most professions.

There are a few more steps that are taken in order to ensure that you are not only qualified, but also a good fit for the practice. Not only will most dental offices require a sit down interview, many prefer you do a working interview in order to assess your skills.

There are a few “good rules of thumb” that are good to know for any interview process, but these are a couple extra that can put you over the top when it comes to a working interview.


This may seem obvious, but to many it’s not. It is not only important to have a resume but there are a few things you can tweak to make the interview process smoother. First of all, you need to update it. It can be confusing to employers when you have large gaps in your resume. The less time figuring out where you worked or what you did means more time for you to show them why you want to work there. Next, only put relevant information that you know you can confidently back up. This will help the interview go smoother and the conversation will be more lively. Just because your resume is short does not mean you are unqualified.

Most likely, your possible employer will only be looking for relevant information anyways. If you have any specific questions or are looking for general help, our office also provides career training resources that have proven successful for many of our clients.


Before you go into an interview, you should know everything about the practice. Who the dentist is, how many people work there, what kind of procedures do they do, are they privately or corporately owned. These are just some of the things you should know. The more knowledge you show about the practice, the more invested you will appear to the interviewer. 

Additionally, do not be intimidated if you do not meet every single requirement that is listed in the job post. A lot of posts are just recycled from other places and most of the time the office will be willing to work with you if you show promise. However, there are limits. Experience and languages spoken are two things that many offices care about. Don’t be surprised if the job post lists Spanish as a requirement and you are questioned about it in the interview. 


There is no reason to be surprised by the questions being asked when you get into the office. The calmer and more prepared you are, the more impressed the interviewer will be. There are common questions that are asked in interviews all over the internet. You can either have a friend ask you them or just speak through the answers yourself. Either way, thinking is not enough- you need to be able to communicate your answers verbally.

Some of the most common questions are:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you choose to be a dental hygienist/assistant?
  • How long have you been practicing?
  • How would you deal with a difficult patient?

These are just a handful of examples. Check out some other websites which have long lists of just about every possible question imaginable.


Almost every interview ends the same way, with the interviewer asking if you have any questions for them. This is where you can stand out from the other applicants. By doing research beforehand, you should have a few questions prepared. This shows the person interviewing you that you are interested about the practice and what they do. It is also more engaging. The more the interview is like a back-and-forth conversation, the better. 


This is a great way to show your skills. That being said, it is also a way for you to see if the office is actually a good fit for you. You will be able to see what the general flow is like, how the dentist acts, and what your general responsibilities will be. Don’t feel too pressured! The office knows that you are not familiar with their system. It is simply more of a way to see how well you work with people and making sure your talents on paper translate to the practice. The duration of these interviews varies depending on the office. Some only last a few hours while others will ask you to come back multiple times. It is not a bad thing if your interview only lasts two hours. That may just mean that the practice was super impressed with you!

Regardless of how long it lasts, you should be compensated for your work. Offices are legally required to pay you, but not necessarily at a hygienist/assistant rate- just minimum wage. Not that this should be a deal breaker, but it is something that you may want to keep in mind. If you find yourself getting anxious or nervous about doing a working interview, it may not be a bad idea to see if you could shadow first. This will help you get a better understanding of what they will want you to do as well as help make you feel more comfortable.


What Characteristics are Dental Practices Looking for In People They Hire?

For all the people out there looking for jobs in dental, this question comes up a lot. In fact, this is probably the most important question an employer who’s looking to hire needs to answer. The main reason for this is because one of the most important determinants on what make a dental practice successful or not is the people who work there. Assembling a successful dental clinic is tough. It takes a lot of time, thinking, and problem solving in order to really create a team that works coherently together and efficiently.

You can see which employers put thought into their team. For example, during your job hunt, if you’re applying at a dental office that’s been around for 10+ years but only has 4 chairs and is closed half the week.. are they successful? Is their practice environment fun? Comfortable? Up to date? Does it seem like their front office cares about their patients or do all they see is dollar signs? These are questions both employees and employers need to ask. Potential employees need to ask this question because it’s important in evaluating whether or not this is where they want to establish or grow their career. Who wants to work at a dental clinic that has paint chipping on their walls? Who wants to work a dental practice that has bad reviews? What if they have horrible employee turnaround? There are many questions potential and current employees need to ask themselves in order to really determine whether or not it’s worth their time to be there.

Ever wondered why some dental practices look so successful and others look like their practice is on the borderline of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? Simple answer – its their choice or lack of who they hired. Good and successful practices have managers/owners who care immensely about who they hire and who they extend offers to. This same hiring philosophy is applied coherently and strictly at all positions from general doctors to front office administrators. While if you want to know why a dental practice is struggling, just look at who they have on their team. You can clearly see the difference between a good practice and bad one really by looking at how their employees treat you and how the practice presents themselves. Although this is a generalization and there are exceptions, the rule really is easily applicable throughout the entire industry.

So the question is – what are the GOOD practices looking for when they hire and what are the BAD practices looking for when they hire?

Good practices can be defined as practices that are focused on sustained financial growth as well as maintaining a brand that gives off a message of credibility and reliability. It could be a dental practice managed by a single owner or by multiple partners, but at the end of the day the practice clearly cares about branding, growth, and most importantly internal employee culture.

These good practices are looking for employees who subscribe to this message. What does this mean? This means they are looking for potential employees who care about how they present themselves, who are responsible, nice, caring yet straightforward and efficient. They’re looking for employees who are trying to grow a career rather than be there for a quick paycheck. They’re looking for employees who care about the growth of the practice rather than the growth of their own bank account. So how do you show and tell the hiring dental practices that you have have these characteristics? Simple, you show. Don’t Tell. How do you show? Well you show by every small thing you do leading up to the interview, during the interview and post interview. This means showing up early, knowing everything about the practice, being prepared for the interview, and sending consistent follow up. This means being aware of your strengths and weaknesses and being able to adapt and change your mindset when it comes to growing your skills in dental. If you are able to convey to your hiring manager that these are the characteristics that you have, you will be easily able to land a job in no time.

Now, what are the bad practices looking for? Simply put, bad practices are looking for one thing and one thing only – what your price is. They want to hire anyone and everyone who has some sort of dental experience at the cheapest price they can. What does that mean? Thea means they’re looking for anyone to fill the open job positions they have at their practice with the lowest hourly salary they can get. To be honest this works because there is always someone who is willing to work for some sort of monetary return. However, what ends up happening is the practice tends to hire those who are not as motivated or responsible because of the monetary compensation attracting the employees to the practice.

The best of the best aren’t looking to get paid minimum wage. They’re trying to get paid as much as they can. This creates a vacuum where the low paying jobs tend to attract the low tier employees. Practices don’t care and end up hiring low tier employees. This affects the patients experiences, the other employee experiences and is ultimately detrimental to the practice itself, which makes it effectively a bad practice. So at the end of the day – it’s all about employee culture. This is a great question to ask – what is the culture like here? Are people here friends? Or does everyone want to leave the moment the clock hits 5pm. Is everyone here from top tier schools/practices? Or are the people here just because they have nowhere else to go? These are questions you as a person who is applying must ask yourself and the practice because that will determine how your career trajectory goes.


Is Dental School the Right Fit For You?

Before you even decide to apply for dental school, you should reflect on whether dentistry is the career for you. If looking into mouths (and not the ones you see in magazines and movies) and working with your hands are not things you’d enjoy or excel at, then to attend dental school and become a dentist may not be the choice for you. The process to become a dentist is a time consuming and expensive process, but also incredibly rewarding from a professional, interpersonal, and financial standpoint. 

Dentistry is an ever-expanding and stable industry that will provide job security until the day dentists choose to retire. While not everyone may need to visit an optometrist or a dermatologist, but most people visit a dentist a couple of times a year. The American Dental Association reports that the average salary for recently graduated dentists is about $130,000 while the average across all general dentists was over $200,000 per annum.

Your work as a dentist helps people regain their confidence, and it’s one of the few industries where your clientele always leaves with a smile on their face. Once you’ve become established in the industry, you can expand your businesses, set your own hours, and give yourself flexibility with your personal life.

Once you are set with your choice, be ready for accompanying work and effort required to get your foot through the door.

1.     Know your goals

Of course, you’re not committing to anything this early on, but it’s helpful to look at some prospective schools for comparison’s sake as it will help you set more concrete goals with your studies.

There are three dental schools in Illinois, the University of Illinois at Chicago (Chicago), Southern Illinois University (Carbondale), and Midwestern University (Downers Grove). Their admission rates and statistics are all close to the national average, with UIC being the most competitive and Midwestern University having slightly lower admissions average numbers.

If you want to go to dental school somewhere other than Illinois, you have 66 programs nationwide to choose from; just make sure to do research on each one you’re interested in. Just as you did while researching undergraduate programs, you should know what benchmarks to hit to qualify for your reach schools, your target schools, and your safety schools.
It doesn’t matter whether you choose a DDS program or a DMD program, as the licensure and qualifications of graduates from either program would be equivalent.

2.     Get good grades and hit the prerequisites

The most obvious objective is to get good grades. Of course, you should do this regardless of your future career choices, but especially for the dental school, since the national average GPA of applicants admitted into dental school is 3.55 (on a 4.0 scale)

Although this is the average, it’s always advantageous to be above average in any competitive scenario.

Dental schools typically accept candidates who have 2 semesters (or 3 quarters) completed of general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, and physics as well as their accompanying lab sessions. Although their official stated requirements tend to be lower (1 semester or 2 quarters), it’s generally safer to go beyond the base prerequisites.

You don’t need to major in the hard sciences, you just need to excel in whatever you study, so long as you fulfil the prerequisites necessary. Most students in dental school have studied sciences, in particular biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, biomedical sciences, and chemistry.

3.     Take the DAT and get a good score

The next thing to do well on is your Dental Admissions Test (DAT). While the average score of students taking the DAT is 17.5 on a 26 point scale, the national average score for admission into dental school is 20.5. As with all other factors, scoring above average on your DAT will open up doors. A student who scores 23 will be considered in the top 2% of test takers and will have their choice of schools. There are many digital and print resources to help you study with this with many available through the ADA itself.

4.     Fill your resume with experience

Get experience (part time at a local clinic or volunteer, this will help with references too). If you’re able to pick up a part time role during the school year or a full time role during the summer, hands-on experience will be invaluable for both experience and admissions purposes. Not only will you get a better feel for a professional dental environment, you’ll also figure out quickly whether this is the career for you. If you happen to know a dentist, a personal connection is the easiest way to get a position. Otherwise, contacting practices local to you/your school is traditionally a great way to get in the door if you demonstrate a willingness to learn. If you find it difficult to gain a position, try volunteering at a local clinic or community health center.

The experience itself is amazingly helpful, and you’ll also be able to prove yourself to individuals who you can later approach for letters of recommendation. Having the professional statement of a dentist in your application is always a plus, and in some prestigious or research-orientated schools is a must.

Extracurriculars help! If you can join a dental related club or organization, your chances will increase for demonstrating a committed interest in dental. Naturally, the availability of these organizations will vary on your locale as well as your college.

5.     Look into scholarships and alternative ways to help pay for school

The days where a summer job could pay your way through college are long gone, and most dental school students would find it impossible to find time between their studies for a job. However, excelling at the criteria for dental schools will also make it easier for you to apply for scholarships and grants.

While a quick Google search will reveal multitudes of dental-related scholarship to apply to, there are also thousands of scholarships available on a local and school level. Many dental students also look into loan forgiveness programs, where you work in an underserved community for a couple of years and as a result have most or all of your loans forgiven. Although it’s not uncommon to graduate with $300k+ in loans, a disciplined dentist can easily pay this off by leveraging multiple tools.

Some would say that these are bland suggestions, and that doing each thing on the list just turn you into the average dental school student, but realistically, that’s the goal. These are the characteristics of the average dental school student because it’s what the average dental school is looking for. There’s nothing terribly convoluted about the steps to become a dentist, but each step comes with a fair amount of work.

The good news is, for every incremental step you get closer to a rewarding career in dentistry, and closer to a professional life with growth and stability.