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How to Become a Dentist in Massachusetts

If you’re interested in a rewarding and lucrative healthcare career but are unsure about medical school, consider becoming a dentist. Dentists in Massachusetts earn a good income and are in demand. The dental industry is growing, and opportunities for licensed dentists are easy to find.

Massachusetts State Requirements for Dentists

Dentists in Massachusetts are licensed through the state’s Department of Public Health. You must apply with proof of all the requirements for licensing:

  • Graduation from a dental program approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation
  • Passing scores on required exams
  • A signed statement from a primary physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner attesting to your medical clearance to practice as a dentist
  • Certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation/automated external defibrillation and basic life support
  • A passing score on the Massachusetts dental ethics and jurisprudence exam
  • A $660 fee

Board Exams

Part of licensing for dentistry includes passing board exams. The required and accepted exams vary depending on the state. Massachusetts accepts exams administered by:

  • Commission on Dental Competency Assessments  
  • Florida State Board of Dental Examiners
  • Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners
  • Central Regional Dental Testing Service 
  • Southern Regional Testing Agency

Massachusetts Dental Programs

Three world-class universities in Massachusetts have recognized dental schools with approved Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree programs and many other offerings.

Boston University, Boston

BU’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine is both a research and educational institution. The school has an innovative Simulation Learning Center that allows students to begin getting clinical experience right away in their first year. Students also have opportunities to participate in research and reach underserved communities.

The D.M.D. program is the professional track for students becoming dentists for the first time. It begins with an academic foundation in coursework, followed by plenty of hands-on experiences with pre-clinical simulations. Students work in small mentor groups to simulate running a dental practice. Research also sets the BU experience apart from other dental programs. Students can begin participating in research in their first year.

The application process for the D.M.D. program at BU is holistic. The committee looks beyond grades and test scores. They are also currently flexible on certain parameters in consideration of the recent lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In general, admissions require course prerequisites, a passing Dental Admissions Test (DAT) score, shadowing experiences, and an interview.

In addition to the D.M.D. degree, BU offers several graduate programs for dentists seeking expertise in specialist areas:

  • Dental Public Health
  • Digital Dentistry
  • Endodontics
  • Geriatric Dental Medicine
  • Operative Dentistry
  • Oral Biology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial orthopedics
  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Periodontology
  • Prosthodontics

Harvard University, Boston

The Harvard School of Dental Medicine is headquartered in Boston, with an additional dental center in Cambridge. The cornerstone of the school is the D.M.D. program. The program’s philosophy is that dentistry is a specialty area of medicine, and with the world-renowned medical school at Harvard, dentists learn from the best.

Students in the program begin taking courses with medical students emphasizing interdisciplinary learning. They participate in research, team-based learning activities, and a primary-care medical rotation. The program is unique in offering this type of collaborative learning that treats oral health as a part of systemic and holistic health.

To apply to the program, prospective students must submit transcripts, letters of evaluation, and DAT scores. Those who meet qualifications will also undergo a virtual and in-person interview process.

The School of Dental Medicine offers many additional programs for dentists. Graduate programs include:

  • Dental Education
  • Public Health
  • Endodontics
  • Geriatric Dentistry
  • Implant Dentistry
  • Oral Medicine
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology or Surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontology
  • Prosthodontics

There are also multiple residency programs, a research academy, and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences in Dental Medicine.

Tufts University, Boston

Yet another excellent center for dental education in Boston is Tufts University’s School of Dental Medicine. It has been training dentists for more than 150 years.

The four-year D.M.D. program focuses on foundational coursework, pre-clinical and clinical experiences, and the management of dental practices, all in preparation for working as a professional dentist. Students can also get involved in research and global health initiatives. Applicants must send official transcripts, two letters of evaluation, proof of dental experience, and DAT scores.

D.M.D. students can enroll to earn a dual degree. The options include a master’s degree in public health and dental research. Students can also choose the Early Assurance Program. This eight-year program consists of a Bachelor of Science plus a D.M.D. degree.

Graduate programs for dental specialties include:

  • Endodontics
  • Advanced Dental Technology and Research
  • Esthetic and Operative Dentistry
  • General Dentistry
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Oral Medicine
  • Orofacial Pain
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontology
  • Prosthodontics

Additionally, the school offers several fellowships and internships in implant dentistry, digital prosthodontics, esthetic dentistry, and more.

Working as a Dentist in Massachusetts

There are plenty of opportunities for licensed dentists in Massachusetts, as this is a growing career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an 8% growth in positions for dentists across the country. Projections Central reports an increase of 6.7% for Massachusetts. This means there are many jobs available throughout the state. Average salaries for dentists in the state are $164,480 per year and $79.08 per hour.

Dentists often find work in dental practices, but many also start their own offices and practices. You can also find alternatives, including positions in government agencies, community clinics, and hospitals. Some dentists choose to focus on research and education in university positions.

If you plan to work as a dentist in Massachusetts, finding a job shouldn’t be difficult. Wherever people live, they need dental care. Most opportunities will be in the bigger cities, like Boston and Springfield.

Dentistry is a rewarding career with many opportunities for specialization, growth and a great income. With its three excellent dental schools, Massachusetts is a good place to start.

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