To become a dentist, you need to attend dental school. Applicants to dental school must first complete 1 to 4 years of university level courses.
Dental schools require applicants to have taken courses in certain areas of study such as chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, biology, physics, and English. However, exact requirements vary by school so be sure to check with the dental school you might be interested in applying to in order to find out what courses you need to take in university.
One admission requirement for all Canadian dental schools is the submission of Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) scores. The DAT is administered by the Canadian Dental Association to evaluate general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, two- and three-dimensional visual perception and manual dexterity. Learn more about the Dental Aptitude Test by going to the Canadian Dental Association website.
Other admission criteria may include a personal interview, letters of recommendation, autobiographical letter, and CPR certification.
Dental school typically takes 4 years to complete. Depending on the school they attend, graduates may earn either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree.
After finishing a degree, you must be licensed by the province you wish to practise in. This generally involves passing exams set by the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB). See the Helpful Websites section for a link to the NDEB.
With extra training, a dentist can become a specialist and focus on specific dental problems. For example, oral surgeons deal with facial reconstructions and impacted wisdom teeth. They perform some difficult and complicated operations. Orthodontists correct and prevent the irregular development of teeth, and periodontists concentrate on treating gum disease.
There are nine nationally recognized dental specialties in Canada. The Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC) reviews and accredits the education programs in the nine dental specialties. More information about the CDAC and the following specializations can be found on the Canadian Dental Association website.
Dental School application deadline: some are early and range from November to December of the year prior to the year of admission.
cda-adc.ca -- Canadian Dental Association (CDA) This is a national industry website for all dentistry professionals in Canada. Click on “The Dentistry Profession” to find information about dental careers, programs, and specialties.
ndeb.ca -- National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) This board administers certification exams to graduating dentists. Click on “Links” for contact information for the provincial regulatory authorities.
rcdc.ca -- Royal College of Dentists of Canada (RCDC) The RCDC administers exams for each dental specialty. Go to the “About Us” and “Examinations” sections to find out more.
acfd.ca -- Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry (ACFD) This association oversees all of the dental programs available at educational institutions in Canada. Click on “Members of ACFD” and then have a look at “Links to Dental Schools” for a list of all dental schools in Canada.