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A Guide to Dental School

By Heartland Dental

We understand that dental school can be an incredibly strenuous time for a prospective dentist’s life. A typical student will tend to feel overwhelmed with classwork, making it seem like there’s not enough time in the day to spend with friends or even just relax for an hour or two here and there. As the nation’s leading dental support organization, we want your time in dental school to be a resounding success, which is why we’ve crafted a guide to dental school for you.

Dental School Throughout the Years

To give you an example of what to expect throughout your years at dental school, we’ve provided you with a year-to-year look for a typical dental student:

  • Year 1 – Freshman year of dental school is mainly to get you and other students acclimated. The majority of these freshman classes are lecture-based. Plenty of them cover broader topics that you may have seen during undergraduate classes, such as biochemistry and anatomy. There are also more dental specific classes that you’ll take, including oral biology and dental anatomy.
  • Year 2 – During your sophomore year, you’ll take advanced courses that build on what you learned during your freshman year. Also, you’ll start to see that the amount of lab work you’ll get will increase greatly. In most schools, this is when you’ll get to start working on a real person. Usually, this also means that someone else will be working on you too!
  • Year 3 – While you’ll still attend some lectures, you’ll be spending much more time in the dental clinic. It’s typically during this year that you’ll start treating real patients while under the supervision of your professors. During the third year, many students begin thinking about their paths after dental school.
  • Year 4 – This is what you’ve been working for! You’ll still have a few lectures to go, but the vast majority of your time will be spent finishing the clinical procedures that are required for graduation. Also, you’ll be preparing to take the second part of the national exam at the end of the year.

Tips for Dental School Success

A couple of tips that we suggest for getting through dental school include the following:

  • Get Your Sleep and Relaxation – A good night’s sleep is needed to make sure that you’re able to clearly focus during your day’s work. After all, strong mental health is one of the most important traits to have – in school or elsewhere. This is why it’s not just important to get your sleep – you’ll want to be relaxed as well. Give yourself some time to unwind at the end of every day and consider doing a calming activity like yoga.
  • Make a Schedule and Stick to It – A dental student has an incredibly busy life, which is why time management is so crucial to utilize. You’ll be spending plenty of time in class, at a dental clinic, or studying, giving you little time to do anything else. To help, we recommend making a schedule to keep yourself on track and know when you have time available to study or just do something fun.
  • Join the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) – If you’re looking for an extra boost to your dental knowledge, we recommend joining ASDA.  ASDA provides many benefits and educational resources to help a dental student through his or her career. A few of the advantages of joining  ASDA are that you’ll have access to the American Dental Association Center for Professional Success and you’ll get a subscription to the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Options After Dental School

Ultimately, it’s never too early to begin thinking about options after dental school. Thinking in the future tense will help set you up for success. Some of the main options after dental school include postdoctoral educations/residencies, working in private practices, or partnering with a dental support organization (DSO) like Heartland Dental. If you’re interested in viewing supported positions in one of our 850+ supported offices, please visit our job site!


Tags: Heartland Dental, Dental Student