How to Become a Dentist in Louisiana
Dentistry is a superb career choice for someone interested in boosting the health of others. Dentistry also has a high earning potential. If you’re afraid of spending many years in dental school, the time commitment is less than you might expect. You can get a doctoral degree in dentistry approximately four years after you have completed a bachelor’s degree. While this may still seem like a huge commitment, students spend less time in school studying dentistry than they would in medical school.
There are several requirements you must meet to become a licensed dentist, and these requirements will vary by state. Keep reading to learn what you must do to become licensed and practice dentistry in the state of Louisiana.
Requirements for Dentists in Louisiana
The Louisiana State Board of Dentistry regulates dentistry careers in the state. Before obtaining your dental license, you must complete a dental program at an accredited dental school. You must also complete a clinical license exam approved by the State Board and pass both parts of the National Board Dental Examination. Other requirements include:
- Certification in BLS and CPR
- U.S. citizenship or authorization to work in the U.S.
- Pass a fingerprint background check
- Complete an opioid management course
- Pay the $400 application fee, $50 well-being program fee and any applicable exam fees
Additionally, you must apply for anesthesia permits to administer anesthesia for any procedures. There are separate applications to administer nitrous oxide, moderate sedation and general anesthesia.
National Dental Board Exams for Licensing
In addition to the exam administered by the State Board, you must also pass the National Board Dental Examination, which is a written exam. The Louisiana State Board of Dentistry approves the following National exams:
The Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA)
The Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA)
Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS)
Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
Western Regional Examining Board (WREB)
Louisiana Dental Programs
Completing an accredited dental program is mandatory to become a licensed dentist in the state. Only one school in Louisiana offers such a program: the School of Dentistry at Louisiana State University in New Orleans.
LSU School of Dentistry offers a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S) degree. They also offer a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Dental Hygiene and an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree in Dental Laboratory Technology. These are highly competitive programs with limited acceptance. The D.D.S. degree program accepts 65 students annually, the B.S. degree program accepts 36 students annually, and the A.S. degree program accepts 12 students annually.
For acceptance into the D.D.S. program, students must complete the pre-dentistry bachelor’s degree program. They must also apply to the program through the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS), pay the application fee and submit evaluation letters to the AADSAS. After you have completed the AADSAS portion of the application process, the School of Dentistry Admissions Office will contact you. You will then need to apply to the School of Dentistry, and submit a passport-sized photo, a copy of your driver’s license and proof of residency. You must also take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) and complete a faculty interview.
Acceptance into the Dental Hygiene B.S. program requires completion of at least 60 credit hours in general education and electives, scoring at least a 20 on the ACT, completing the Admissions Test for Dental Hygiene (ATDH), and completing 80 hours of volunteer work or job shadowing in a dental clinic.
Additionally, the school offers Advanced Education certifications in:
This program focuses on treating patients with complex tooth problems, especially those involving the pulp of the teeth. This program is two years long, with 60 % of the student’s time spent in clinical practice.
General Dentistry is a 1–2-year residency program in a local teaching hospital for students interested in treating medically compromised patients. Students learn hospital protocols and complete rotations in comprehensive care, emergency medicine, general anesthesia, implant dentistry and oral surgery.
Orthodontics is a two-year program that focuses on diagnosing and treating jaw and teeth irregularities. The program is composed of clinical training, lectures and seminars. Coursework includes biomechanics, craniofacial morphogenesis, orthodontic technique and surgical orthodontics.
This two-year program focuses on dental work in children, including general anesthesia, minor tooth movement and the treatment of medically compromised children.
Periodontics is a 3-year program that focuses on diagnosing, treating and preventing gum disease. It includes clinical training and experience in administering IV medication.
Prosthodontics focuses on the use of prosthetics in dentistry. It is a 36-month program that includes seminars and a research project and prepares students for a career in academic dentistry. Three applicants are accepted into this program annually.
Dental Career Opportunities in Louisiana
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dentistry careers are growing by 8%. Dentists make an average of $163,220 annually, so dentistry is a highly sought-after career. In Louisiana, the annual average salary is slightly less than the national one at $148,060. According to data provided by Projections Central, dentistry careers in the state will likely decline by –5.6% between 2020 and 2030. However, this does not mean that there won’t be any new jobs available for dentists in the coming years. Between changing jobs, moving, and retirement, there will be 20 dentistry job openings annually in Louisiana, which could change in the coming years.
Dentists work in private practices, hospitals, community clinics, government agencies, dental schools and universities. They may also open a private practice. Some dentists even specialize in both general dentistry and academics and either teach the next generation of dentists or do research.
People need dentists in all cities and towns, including rural areas. So, job opportunities should be available almost anywhere in the state. However, there may be additional opportunities in larger cities such as Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
If you want to work in healthcare and are interested in a job that helps people improve their oral health and overall general appearance, consider a rewarding career as a dentist in Louisiana.
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