How to Become a Dentist in Maryland
Dentistry is a career that is growing all over the country. In Maryland, residents always need good dental care, so qualified professionals remain in demand. This is also a lucrative career with average salaries well into the six figures.
Job stability and salary are just two reasons to become a dentist in Maryland. Many people choose dentistry because it is a rewarding healthcare career. Dentists help patients maintain good oral health, fix cavities, and find solutions to oral pain. They fill a vital role in healthcare. Maryland is home to one excellent dental school with competitive admissions. If you’re interested in becoming a dentist, it’s best to go above and beyond admission requirements to get accepted.
Maryland State Requirements for Dentistry
Maryland’s State Board of Dental Examiners, part of the Maryland Department of Health, licenses dentists in the state. You must be licensed to work as a dentist in the state. The first step in getting a license is to enroll in and complete a dental program that leads to a Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree.
There are limited approved dental schools in the U.S. and just one in Maryland. Admissions are competitive, so it’s important to understand and meet or exceed the requirements before you apply.
Once you have a degree, you can apply for your license. Licensure in Maryland requires that you submit your school transcripts and required exam scores. This includes the Maryland Dental Jurisprudence Exam.
An essential part of licensing in any state is the completion of required board exams. These exams prove that you have the knowledge necessary to work as a dentist. In Maryland, you must complete and pass the National Board Examination. You must also pass all sections of one of the following:
- American Dental Licensing Examination
- North East Regional Board
These exams include both written and clinical portions.
The University of Maryland School of Dentistry
Maryland has just one approved dental school. The University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) is located in Baltimore and has a long and distinguished history. Founded in 1840 as the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, it is the oldest dental college in the world. It led the way in training dentists based on science, evidence, and best practices.
UMSOD currently has several divisions, each with a unique educational purpose:
- General Dentistry. This is where students learn and train to become general dentists through coursework and practical experience with actual patients.
- Dental Public Health. Students interested in dental and oral health societal issues study multiple disciplines within this division.
- Advanced Oral Sciences and Therapeutics. This department includes several areas of study: biomaterials and tissue engineering, dental hygiene, endodontics, periodontics, and prosthodontics.
- Microbial Pathogenesis. Dental and dental hygiene students learn about infections and how they impact oral health.
- Neural Pain and Sciences. Pain is an important part of oral health. Students learn about pain as a systemic issue to apply to dental care.
- Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences. The staff in this department are experts in several fields, including cancer, radiology, oral medicine, and oral pathology.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Residents and fellows in this department learn how to treat patients with deformities and traumatic injuries.
- Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry. The pediatric program is housed along with orthodontics, the study and care of oral function and appearance.
Students at UMSOD benefit from one or many of these departments as they train to be dentists or earn specialty and advanced degrees. The Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree is for students who want to become first-time dentists.
The D.D.S. program includes science-focused classes and clinical experiences. Students get to work in the clinical education program, which simulates a real dental practice. They also work with special needs populations. There is also a D.D.S. Ph.D. program, which adds three to four years to the D.D.S. program.
Requirements for the D.D.S. program include a Dental Admission Test score, a minimum of 90 credit hours of coursework with specific prerequisites, letters of recommendation, and proof of 100 or more hours of job shadowing with a dentist. Applicants do not need a bachelor’s degree, but it is strongly recommended.
In addition to the D.D.S. program, UMSOD offers other degrees and specialties. Postgraduate programs include:
- Advanced education in general dentistry
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery
- Pediatric Dentistry
- Oral and maxillofacial pathology
Other programs include a dual degree along with the D.D.S. Students can choose between a master’s degree in public health or clinical research. The dual degree programs aim to train dentists who are also scientists prepared to be leaders in oral health.
Non-dental healthcare professionals can earn a post-baccalaureate certificate in oral health science. This program aims to educate other health professionals about oral health so they can provide more comprehensive patient care. The program includes five online courses for a total of 13 credits and clinical experiences.
Opportunities for Dentists in Maryland
Positions for dentists are increasing all over the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), growth is strong at 8%. The BLS also reports a median annual salary of $163,220 for dentists across all states.
In Maryland, growth is even more substantial for dentists. Between 2018 and 2028, the number of dentists working in the state is expected to grow by 19%. This represents hundreds of new jobs for qualified, licensed dentists. Maryland also has competitive salaries, with an average annual income of over $160,000 for dentists.
Dentists are needed throughout the state. Once licensed, you can work in a dental practice or start your own. Dentists also work for government agencies. You can find government jobs in and around Washington, D.C. The most opportunities are around the bigger cities in the state, including D.C., Baltimore, and Frederick.
Working as a dentist can be very rewarding. Consider this career if you are interested in healthcare but aren’t sure about medical school. Dental school takes less time to complete and can have you working with patients in about four years.