How to Become a Dentist in Mississippi
Dentistry provides a meaningful career for over 200,000 people in the U.S. However, Mississippi has the second lowest number of dentists per capita compared to the rest of the nation. Only the state of Arkansas has fewer dentists.
Pursuing a dental degree in Mississippi means embarking on a meaningful, financially rewarding career that is important to the community.
Following undergraduate education, prospective dentists can begin to apply to dental schools. Dental programs, which offer a range of master’s and doctoral degrees in dentistry, are incredibly selective. Getting into dentistry school is a considerable challenge.
To become a dentist in Mississippi, candidates will need to apply to an accredited program, complete the required coursework and fulfill all of the requirements of the state’s dentistry board.
The Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners is responsible for all dental licensing within the state. They are a regulatory agency consisting of seven practicing dentists and one practicing dental hygienist.
The state’s dentists are divided into six regions, each with its own representative on the board. The governor appoints the seventh member at large.
This licensing body will determine if candidates have met the qualifications for practicing dentistry in the state of Mississippi. They oversee examinations, licensing, registrations, and regulation of dentistry and dental hygiene practices and ethics.
Mississippi has a lengthy code that dentistry applicants must meet to be licensed. Reading through the code, candidates will learn that to be a licensed dentist in Mississippi, they must:
- Complete the Board licensure exam
- Graduate from a dental school that has been accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA)
- Be of good moral character
- Be a high school graduate
- Be at least 21 years old
- Complete Part I and Part II of the National Board Examinations of the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations
A candidate who graduated from a dentistry school outside of the United States may still apply for a dentistry license in Mississippi. However, their regulations are a little more in-depth than those of statewide dentists. They must:
- Be of good moral character
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be proficient in the English language, including oral and written communication
- Have completed no less than six years of postsecondary study
- Have graduated from a dental school that is recognized by the licensing board of that nation
- Have already been licensed as a dentist in that nation
- Be able to document at least two additional years of full-time post-doctoral dentistry training at a school that the ADA has accredited
- Be certified by the dean of that school as someone who has the same level of experience and knowledge as other graduates of the school
If someone moves to Mississippi from another state where they have practiced dentistry, they can apply for a License Based on Credentials. They have to meet the same minimum qualifications as licensing by examination, and they must also:
- Submit proof that they graduated from an ADA-accredited dental school
- Have either been practicing dentistry or enrolled in dental school full-time for the past five years
- Hold a valid and unrestricted license that meets the requirements of the laws of Mississippi
The Board accepts applications from candidates who have completed their licensure exams that were administered by one of the following organizations:
- American Board of Dental Examiners (ADEX)
- North East Regional Board of Dental Examiners (NERB)
- Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA)
- Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
All candidates must pass both Parts I and II of the National Board Dental Examination, which is conducted by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE).
Even though dental candidates can apply for a dentistry license after completing their studies elsewhere, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) is the only dentistry school you can attend in Mississippi.
University of Mississippi, Jackson
Since 1975, the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry has been educating the state’s dentists and preparing them for their board exams.
The School of Dentistry boasts more than 5,000 square feet of research laboratory space. They offer programs in Advanced General Dentistry, Biomedical Materials Science, Care Planning and Restorative Sciences, Dental Hygiene, Endodontics, Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery and Pathology, Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry and Community Oral Health and Periodontics and Preventative Services.
UMMC’s School of Dentistry places a heavy emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Some of their values are:
- Lifelong learning
- Collaborative teaching
- Continuous improvement
They see these as essential qualities of a dentist in Mississippi.
The program is designed to be completed within four years. The third and fourth-year student dentists practice in the school’s clinic under the supervision of the licensed dentists on the faculty. Because their fees are about half what it costs to go to a private practice, the school provides an essential service to the community of Jackson and beyond.
Mississippi needs more dentists. The UMMC School of Dentistry is working toward an important goal of training more dentists for a state with a “dentistry gap.” Becoming a dentist in Mississippi is about more than just launching a great, satisfying career. It is also about making a difference in your community.
When people have access to safe, high-quality dental care, their overall health improves.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies the median pay for dentists in 2021 as $163,220 per year. That breaks down to an hourly rate of $78.47.
Notably, the BLS projects that this area will experience continued growth at a rate of 8% over the next ten years. That means about 11,000 people will become dentists in the U.S. between 2020 and 2030.
Mississippi will experience comparable growth of 7.2%. Currently, there are about 30 openings annually for new dentists in the state.
Mississippi’s older dentists will continue to retire, and new dentists will be needed to fill those vacancies. Every community needs qualified, well-trained dentists, including both the rural counties and urban hubs of Mississippi.