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How to Become a Dentist in Kentucky

Dentistry is a meaningful career. In addition to providing your community with an important service, becoming a dentist provides job security and economic stability.

After finishing an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, the next step is to apply to dental schools. These graduate programs are incredibly selective. Subpar applicants will find themselves denied admittance into these programs.

The requirements for the state of Kentucky for becoming a dentist include graduating from an accredited program and passing the board exams.

State Requirements for Dentists in Kentucky

The Kentucky Board of Dentistry oversees the licensure process for all dentists within the state.

Dental licenses are conferred upon applicants who have done one of two things; receive Licensure by Examination after completing an approved regional clinical exam or receiving licensure by credentials.

Licensure by Credentials is an alternative option. Licensure by Credentials means that one has a qualifying experience within another jurisdiction. This method is typically used by dentists who have moved to Kentucky from out of state.

If a student or faculty member has not yet met the full requirements of licensing, the Board can issue a limited license.

According to the Board, candidates must meet the following credentials:

  • Speak, read, understand and write in fluent English
  • Not have any current disciplinary actions against you that prohibit licensure
  • Pass the Board’s jurisprudence exam
  • Be certified in CPR (certification must be current)
  • Pass a nationwide criminal background check
  • Document and verify any other dental licenses you have held in other states, cities, or nations
  • Graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) approved school
  • Complete both Part I and Part II of the National Board Dental Examination
  • Explain in a written document if you have been reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPBD)

Dentistry Board Exam

Candidates for a dentistry license must pass both parts one and two of the National Board Dental Examination to receive Licensure by Examination. This examination is conducted by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE).

After completing the exam, the JCNDE will send your scores directly to the Board. Students cannot submit their own scores.

Additionally, you must pass a state, regional, or national clinical examination. This exam is used to prove that you have clinical competency as a dentist. You may take your clinical examination with any of the following regional board-approved clinical examination sites:

  • Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA)
  • Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS)
  • Northeast Regional Board of Dental Examiners (NERB)
  • Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
  • Western Regional Examining Board (WREB)

Finally, you must complete the Board’s jurisprudence examination.

Kentucky Dental Programs

Kentucky has two publicly funded universities that offer respected dentistry degrees. Both the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky offer high-quality, accredited dentistry programs for aspiring dentists.

University of Louisville, Louisville

The University of Louisville offers a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) program that prepares new dentists to meet the needs of today’s dental patients.

The program takes four years to complete. In the first year, students tackle coursework in essential areas like physiology and biochemistry. Students also work on hand skills to build that essential professional competency. During the second year, students add lab work to their continued coursework.

During the third and fourth years, dentistry students work in the university’s on-site clinic, providing services to their patients, under the guidance of their experienced faculty.

University of Louisville School of Dentistry (ULSD) provides students with access to high-tech options for treating patients. According to their program overview, “ULSD strives to foster and sustain an exemplary community that offers a nurturing and challenging intellectual climate, a respect for the spectrum of human diversity, and a genuine understanding of the many differences that enrich a vibrant metropolitan research university.

They have had a consistent class size of 120 students since 2018. To apply, students must submit 3 letters of recommendation or 1 letter from a committee, as well as scores from the Dental Admission Test (DAT).

University of Kentucky, Lexington

At the University of Kentucky in Lexington, students can study for their Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Master of Science (MS) degree in orofacial pain, orthodontics, and periodontics.

The DMD program at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry (UKCD) prioritizes training well-rounded dentists who are eager to serve their communities. The curriculum is graduated, which means that students obtain clinical experience early in the program.

UKCD also boasts a low student-to-teacher ratio. This allows dentistry students to benefit from close relationships with their faculty, just as it allows patients to receive high-quality dental care from people who are committed to excellence.

UKCD describes the admissions process as holistic. They consider academic performance alongside service, leadership, and other qualifying experiences. Applicants must apply to the Associated American Dental School Application Service (AADSAS) to be considered for UKCD’s program. Following this application, prospective students are required to participate in an admissions interview.

Opportunities for Dentists in Kentucky

Kentucky needs more dentists. In 2022, only half of Kentucky’s counties had enough dentists for their low-income population. Dentistry is a career for people who want to make a difference in their communities.

Dental health is an essential part of a person’s overall health. Providing high-quality dental care can change a patient’s life.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for dentists in 2021 was $163, 220 per year, with an hourly breakdown of $78.47 per hour. The BLS projects continued growth in this area over the next 10 years.

As Kentucky’s dentists continue to retire, new dentists will need to step up to fill their shoes. A community will always need qualified, caring, and well-trained dentists.

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