The practice of dentistry is devoted to maintaining the health of the teeth, gums, and other hard tissues of the oral cavity. Dentistry is a licensed health care profession requiring a total of 8-11 years of formal undergraduate, professional, and post-graduate training. While an undergraduate, pre-dental students reinforce a commitment to becoming a dentist by learning about the various aspects of the profession and by preparing themselves for admission to dental school. Admission to dental school remains highly competitive so that students who may be denied admission should plan for an alternate career options while an undergraduate student.

Upon graduation from dental school, dentists are licensed to practice general dentistry, or they may seek to enter residencies in one of the eight dental specialties requiring three to five additional years of training. Because of changes in the profession, it is expected that all dentists will soon be required to complete at least one year of residency training after graduating from dental school.

Men and women who are attracted to dentistry tend to be highly motivated individuals with scientific curiosity, intelligence, ambition, and social consciousness. They enjoy the independence and flexibility that dentistry has to offer. One of the main reasons why students choose dentistry is the ability to balance a professional and personal life. They are willing to invest in a profession that repays with respect and monetary rewards. They enjoy the close interactions with patients and the satisfaction from their daily professional accomplishments of being able to improve their health, comfort, and appearance.

Click on this pdf file if you are wanting to learn more About Dentistry.

Admission to dental school requires planning and preparation

There are currently 56 dental schools in the United States. Many have state residency restriction. Location, cost, educational goals, availability and types of clinical experience, and academic resources and services available to students are also important in selection. As a first step, invest in the most recent dental school preparation guide, "Official Guide to Dental Schools". This document can be ordered from the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) web site or from the Publications Department, American Dental Education Association, 1625 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036-2212. Older copies may be borrowed from your pre-dental advisor, but it is the best investment to have your own copy. Yearly updates are available in early summer to college juniors who are beginning the application process. Because changes in admission policies do occur from year to year, those students in the process of applying to dental school should purchase their own updated copy. Minority students can purchase the ADEA book "Opportunities for Minority Students in United States Dental Schools, 2003-2005" or borrow a copy from their pre-dental advisor.

Academic program

Although students may choose to major in any area, most pre-dental students major in one of the sciences, usually one of the life sciences. There are a number of elective courses that help prepare students for the profession regardless of the students' choice of a particular major. Students planning to apply to dental school need to work closely with a pre-dental advisor in addition to their academic advisor. The roles of the pre-dental advisor are: to update each semester the "Advisement Information for Pre-Dental Students at Missouri State University", to assist in recommending the sequence of coursework, to assist the student in the selection appropriate electives, to help arrange pre-professional internships, to advise the student in the dental school application process, to sponsor the Pre-dental Club, to communicate professional information and recommendations, and to serve as the primary professional and academic reference in a competitive dental school admission process.

The specific list of undergraduate course requirements recommended by most dental schools is minimal; however, students who are admitted usually have completed many of the suggested electives in addition to these minimal requirements. These electives not only serve to prepare applicants for the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) that should be taken during the second semester of their junior year, but also help prepare students for the intense coursework in the biomedical sciences taken during the first two years of dental school.

Preparation for the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is strongly recommended. The most widely-used program is sold by ScholarWare and is called Top Score Pro. Top Score Pro provides students with the practice of taking the test on a computer. The University of Missouri-Kansas City offers a DAT Preparatory Program for two weekends each spring and includes the Top Score Pro for the Dental Admission Test. There is also an updated version of DAT: The Betz Guide, edited by Aftab Hassan and published by Betz/Williams and Wilkins (Tel: 1-800 634-4365 or 1- 301-340-0030).

Applicants may be scheduled for the DAT on virtually any date. There is no application deadline. Applicants may submit their DAT applications online and fees are payable by credit card. Once a DAT application is received in the Department of Testing Services, a notice will be sent to the applicant that he or she can phone the Prometric Candidate Contact Center to schedule an appointment at a Prometric Testing Center. Ninety-days must elapse before an applicant is eligible for retesting. There is a basic application fee and fee for additional score reports beyond the five requested on the application. Additional score reports can be requested online. Beginning in January 2007, the American Dental Association will limit students to three opportunities to participate in the testing program. The policy will be retroactive when it takes effect on January 1, 2007.

  1. Minimal Required Courses

    The minimal pre-dental curriculum requires two semesters of general chemistry, two semesters of organic chemistry, two semesters of physics, two to four semesters of specific courses in the biological sciences, a pre-calculus mathematics course or college algebra and trigonometry, two or three courses in psychology, and two courses in English composition.
  2. Recommended Elective Courses (see College Catalog for specific courses in the Biomedical Sciences Department, the Biology Department, the Chemistry Department, or Business College)
    • A course in Human Genetics (BMS 230 or BMS 231) or Principles of Genetics (BIO 231)
    • Human Anatomy (BMS 307) or Comparative Anatomy (BIO 380)
    • Human Physiology (BMS 308) or General Physiology (BIO 361)
    • Embryology (BMS 582)
    • Molecular Cell Biology (BMS 521) or Introduction to Cellular Biology (BIO 320)
    • Microbiology (BIO 310)
    • Histology (BMS 585)
    • Biochemistry (CHM 352 or CHM 452); (CMB majors take BMS 321 and BMS 521)
    • Neurobiology (BMS 569)
    • General Business (see catalog)
    • Accounting (see catalog)
    • At least one course in metal working, jewelry making, or sculpting.

If you are a cell and molecular biology major, a sample four year schedule for the pre-dental student is available at the "Sample Four Year Schedule" in the left navigation bar.

Now at Missouri State University and plan to apply to University of Missouri - Kansas City Dental School?

In addition to the regular admissions, UMKC Dental School uses The Reserved Admission Program. This admission program has three stages each requiring formal application and review. The first stage is an acceptance as a Provisional Reserved Admission Program student. Provisional Reserved Admission Program students apply for full Reserved Admission status mid-way through their undergraduate sophomore year. Students with full admission into the Reserved Admission Program are assured seats in the D.D.S. class matriculating in August following the completion of their undergraduate studies, provided they meet the criteria for maintaining their status. The third state is matriculation at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry.

Regular admission students must meet the regular admission course requirements

(pdf file of UMKC requirements). In addition, about 100 hours of "dental experience" in 4-5 dental offices are now required. All pre-dental students at Missouri State University should note other specifics found in the most recent version of the Pre-Dental Advisement at Missouri State University document that is available from their pre-dental advisor.

Pre-Dental advisement at Missouri State University

The document "Pre-dental Advisement at Missouri State University" is updated each semester. Pre-dental students are urged to download a copy each semester to be aware of important information about the dental school application process. Click on this pdf file for the latest full text version of the Pre-Dental Advisement at Missouri State University. Also, check student testimonials from former Cell and Molecular Biology majors from Missouri State University who are attending or have completed dental school .

Primary web sites for predental students

American Dental Education Association

For advisement and more information

Dr. R. Tyler Morris, 417-836-6240, Professional Bldg., 338
Pre-Dental Advisor
Department of Biomedical Sciences
Missouri State University
Springfield, MO 65897