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How to Become a Dentist in Arizona

Dentists play a vital role in the healthcare industry, supervising and working alongside the hygienists and assistants in their office to treat patients’ oral health concerns. Successful dentists must make their patients feel safe and at ease, be passionate about oral health care, have an eye for details and be technically inclined.

Students can expect to spend approximately seven to eight years training to become a dentist and there is a significant financial commitment, but for those who persevere there is an aging population across the nation who will need more acute oral care in the years to come. Someone interested in dentistry can be sure of a long and rewarding career.

Arizona State Requirements

The first step to becoming a legally practicing dentist is completing a high school education or GED with a heavy emphasis on chemistry and biology. Next, students must complete a bachelor’s degree, preferably in the sciences: biochemistry and molecular biology or biological sciences.

You will begin your final years of training by applying to an Arizona Dental Association (ADA) accredited dental school. Admissions are competitive so good grades in earlier schooling are essential. Most programs are four years in length and students will want to consider their next steps during their studies. A dental student must complete the following requirements to become licensed in Arizona:

  1. Sit and pass the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE)
  2. Take and pass the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners Jurisprudence examination
  3. Take and pass a Board approved clinical examination within five years of application

Arizona accepts the following regional board examiners:

  • Commission on Dental Competency Assessments
  • Council of Interstate Testing Agencies
  • Central Regional Dental Testing
  • Southern Regional Testing Agency
  • American Board of Dental Examiners
  • Western Regional Examining Board

All accredited dental schools should assist students in preparing for these testing requirements through specific courses in the program or faculty advisement. With so much at stake students should take advantage of any assistance at their disposal.

Maintaining Licensure

All practicing dentists in the state must renew their license every three years between January and April. Dentists must complete 72 hours of continuing dental education broken down into the following areas:

  • 42 hours in dental and medical health
  • 18 hours in dental practice organization and management
  • 3 hours in chemical dependency
  • 3 hours in Infectious diseases
  • 3 hours in CPR, ACLS and PALS
  • 3 hours in ethics and or dental Jurisprudence
  • Maximum of 24 hours in self-instruction or charitable activities

License renewal costs $204 unless the submission occurs after the expiry date of June 30th, in which case the applicant must pay an additional $100.

Dental Schools in Arizona

Midwestern University – Glendale

Located in the city of Glendale, nine miles northwest of Phoenix, the school is a private medical and professional institution founded in 1900.

The Doctor of Medicine program offers students a contemporary curriculum featuring integrated, simulation-based pre-clinical oral health sciences, systems-based basic sciences and integrated, patient-based clinical dentistry sciences. In addition, students learn ethics and professionalism, advanced clinical dentistry, practice management and community service.

First and second-year students focus on pre-clinical skills in the CDMA’s simulation clinic, and third and fourth-year students work in conjunction with clinical faculty to provide oral care to a set of patients at the Midwestern University Dental Institute. 140 students are accepted into the program each year and the program boasts a 100% graduation rate.

To be a competitive applicant, students should possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with science (biology, chemistry, physics) and a 3.20 GPA. Students should refer to the College of Dental Medicine’s detailed list of requirements. The application deadline is January 1st.

A.T. Still University – Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health

Located in the city of Mesa, the most populous city in the East Valley section of the metropolitan area of Phoenix, the University is a private medical institution that can trace its roots back to 1892.

The Doctor of Dental Medicine program focuses on an integrated system and case-based learning curriculum centered on four main topics:  Fundamentals of Patient Management, Clinical Dentistry, Community Dentistry and Practice Management and Professional Development. Students develop clinical skills through a pre-clinical simulation environment and on live patients.

Students are exposed to clinical work early in their first year and expand their skills by serving in their community through multiple external partnerships. Students have the opportunity to create a unique professional development experience through electives and specialty course topics. All students may earn a certificate in public health in conjunction with their degree.

A 3.0 GPA in the sciences is a prerequisite for admission. Three years of college coursework is acceptable, but a bachelor’s degree is preferred. You can find a complete list of requirements on ATSU’s website.

Opportunities for Dentists in Arizona

The field of dentistry has an extremely bright outlook. According to O-Net Online Dentists can expect their occupation to grow 17 % from 2018 to 2028 which translates to roughly 60 new jobs per year, which is much faster than other occupations across the nation and even faster than the average for dentistry in other parts of the U.S.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Dentists can expect to make an average of $164,060 per year which works out to $78.88 per hour. This salary is slightly higher than the national average of $77.10 per hour.

For new graduates looking to stay in Arizona but open to moving around, the metropolitan area of Lake Havasu City-Kingman has the highest number of Dentist jobs with 110 employed. Dentists are needed in rural and urban areas so new graduates can take their choice of living environment.

A dentist has the opportunity to start their own practice; however, new graduates would benefit from starting as associate dentists in an established practice or partnering with a seasoned professional.

Students and new graduates may find the following resources helpful,

Membership benefits include networking events, continuing education resources and job listings.

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