How to Become a Dentist in Indiana
If you want to make a career in the field of dentistry, you need to choose the right dental school. Dental school is where you’ll get the training to shape your career, so you want to attend a school that provides the knowledge you need to succeed.
Before choosing a school, consider your state’s requirements for certification in your role and what you intend to do after graduation. This will help you choose the best school or program that meets your needs.
Indiana Requirements for Dentistry
Depending on your state and the role you pick, there will be different requirements to work in the dental field. For instance, there are different requirements for becoming a dentist than for a dental hygienist.
Dentists and dental hygienists in Indiana are subject to regulation by the Indiana State Board of Dentistry. The board also outlines job descriptions and educational requirements for certain aspects of dental assistant jobs, such as those handling radiography.
Becoming a Dental Assistant in Indiana
There are 11 Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) dental assisting programs in Indiana. Dental assisting in Indiana is an entry-level position and does not require state licensure unless the assistant is to help with radiography, coronal polishing and applying medications. However, most dental employers will want someone with education or experience.
Assistants performing radiology duties must obtain a Limited Radiography License (L.R.C.). A dental assistant that wants to perform coronal polishing or apply medications must work in the dental field for a minimum of one year and complete an educational program approved by the state board, or they can graduate from a CODA-accredited educational program and hold a certification of completion.
Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Indiana
The Indian State Board of Dentistry has several requirements for becoming a dental hygienist in the state. Those include:
- Earn an Associate’s Degree (or higher) in dental hygiene
- Pass national and state examinations
- Submit an application to the board for a license
- Complete any continuing education classes to keep the license
- Becoming a Dentist in Indiana
- To become a dentist in Indiana, a person must:
- Complete a Bachelor’s Degree
- Obtain a DDS or DMD degree from a CODA-accredited school
- Complete a CPR course
- Pass all necessary exams
- Apply for a license with the state board
Indiana State Certifications and Licensing
A person interested in working in the field of dentistry, whether they aim to be a dental assistant, dental hygienist or a dentist, will need to pass national and state exams to become certified.
Dentists must have a passing score on a national board dental examination before taking the written exam covering Indiana law about the field of dentistry and dental hygiene. Applicants must pass this written exam with a score of at least 75 before being licensed.
Once applicants pass the written exam, they can apply for licensing through the state board. Applications must be complete before submission, and there is a fee to apply. All persons working in dentistry must complete ongoing education and periodically submit applications for re-licensure.
Choosing the Best School of Dentistry in Indiana
Admission to a school of dentistry is competitive. In 2019, only about 55% of applicants received acceptance to an accredited dental program. One way to ensure you get a spot in a dental school is to major in pre-dentistry or pre-health. Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, offers that type of program.
At Ball State, students can earn a bachelor of arts or science degree and meet other admission requirements for dental school. Ball State offers one of the most significant sciences and humanities departments, with more than 1,400 students that win awards, earn scholarships, obtain research funding and publish in scientific journals. Despite its student-body size, small class sizes and labs are easily accessible to give students a personalized, hands-on experience.
To learn more about the pre-dentistry program, including admission requirements, curriculum and fees, visit the school’s website.
After completing the pre-dentistry program, or another undergraduate program, students can then apply for the Master of Science (M.S.) program or Master of Science in Dentistry (M.S.D.) program at Indiana University (IUPUI) School of Dentistry in Indianapolis. From there, students can obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in dentistry or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree.
The Indiana University School of Dentistry is the only dental school in Indiana, and it is one of the oldest dental schools in the country, dating back to 1879. In addition to the programs already mentioned, IUPUI also offers dental assisting and dental hygiene programs. Those programs include:
- Certificate in Dental Assisting
- B.S. in Dental Hygiene
- B.S. in Public Health Dental Hygiene
Are you curious about a career in dental assisting? IUPUI offers a “Dental Assisting Day” with presentations about the school’s dental assisting program, followed by a panel discussion with students currently enrolled in the program. This allows potential students to determine if this is the program they want to pursue.
IUPUI also offers a “Dental Hygiene Day” where you can learn more about the dental hygiene program, tour the facilities and get more information on how to be a successful applicant.
Do you want to try filling a cavity or creating a wax mold? You can learn how at the university’s “Dental Day.” This event is for predental students to receive a hands-on introduction to dentistry and allow them to visit the preclinical simulation lab to understand what it takes to be a dental student.
Visit the school’s website to learn more about admission requirements, curriculum, and fees.
Students who have graduated from a CODA-accredited university can apply for a license in any state if they meet that state’s requirements. Students can also continue their education and select a dental specialty.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes 12 specialties of dentistry, including:
- Dental Anesthesiology
- Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
- Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
- Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
- Dental Public Health
- Orofacial Pain
- Pediatric Dentistry
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
- Oral Medicine
The practice of dentistry offers many career opportunities, but having a solid education is the foundation for building that career.