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How to Become a Dentist in North Carolina

There are a lot of advantages to a career in dentistry, not the least of which is job satisfaction. Dentists can also depend on the future of the profession, as it continues to show steady growth. With such a steady growth rate, dentists have the potential to turn their skills into a lucrative business. If dentistry seems like a good fit for you, then you can be excited about what the future might hold. 

Of course, becoming a dentist isn’t a quick path to joining the labor force. This career requires patience, hard work and a lot of studying. As a dentist, you will be responsible for a person’s health and well-being, and you will need to be knowledgeable and capable to ensure you are caring for them properly. Since dentists hold so much responsibility, you will want to receive the best possible training from a reputable school.

North Carolina has many such schools for dentists. However, it’s essential to understand the requirements to gain licensure in the state before deciding which school is the best fit for your future.

State Requirements for Dentists in North Carolina

Dental degrees require doctoral-level training after the completion of an undergraduate program. In the State of North Carolina, graduates must have graduated from a  Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association accredited program. Applicants for licensure will be required to submit transcripts as proof and meet all additional requirements detailed on the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners website.

North Carolina Dental Boards

The North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners currently accepts the ADEX examination offered by the American Board of Dental Examiners. This examination is administered through two agencies, the Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA) and the Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA). North Carolina requires applicants to have completed both the written and clinical exams before they can apply for licensure.

Top Dental Schools in North Carolina

Now that you know what education you need to be able to work as a dentist in the state, you are ready to look more closely at the available universities that will meet your needs. North Carolina has several accredited dental schools from which to choose. The following are a few of the top schools for dentistry in the state.

East Carolina University

Located in Greenville, NC, East Carolina University offers a four-year program that awards a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD). The program prides itself on its collaborative environment, innovative curriculum and integrated classroom experiences. Students will have access to state-of-the-art equipment and training facilities.

Students in the program will spend the first year working in the classroom and lab before beginning to gain clinical experience in the second year. Clinical work will expand further in the third year, with students gaining knowledge as team leaders in the dental field. The final year of classes includes working in expanded access clinics which the university runs throughout the state in areas of need. The school manages these clinics as a commitment to providing expanded dental access to patients from 100 counties while simultaneously allowing students to gain hands-on experience. Additionally, the college offers opportunities for students to participate in research studies.

Formal applications to the program can be made in June, the year before the matriculating year. Candidates must have completed specific educational requirements to be considered for admission, including eight credit hours each in biological sciences, organic chemistry, chemistry and physics. Six credit hours in English and Mathematics are also mandatory. Courses in biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, embryology, genetics and psychology are recommended.

As of 2022, tuition for the program is listed as $36,984 for the first three years and $24,654 for the final year. Books and supplies are expected to cost between $5000 and $10,000 per year. Financial aid is available for students who qualify. For more information, reach out to the university’s Financial Aid Office.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, NC, offers numerous programs for dentistry, including a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. Provided through the Adam’s School of Dentistry, the program has trained dentists to provide exceptional care since 1950.

The school promises students will gain experience working with groundbreaking technology and provides plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning in the community. The university provides occasions to work in various practice settings throughout the state, giving care to underserved populations in North Carolina. Students will gain experience working in interdisciplinary teams made up of forward-thinking practitioners.

Program admissions open in June of the year before the start of the program. Potential students can expect interviews between September and January and will be notified of acceptance after that. Prospective students should have at least three years of accredited college courses. However, a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree is preferred. Medical biology, math, statistics, writing skills, and business and computer science courses should be strongly considered for anyone hoping to enter the dental program.

Tuition for first-year students will be around $58,237 for in-state students and $100,273 for out-of-state students. Student aid is available and can be applied for through the Financial Aid Office. In addition, students are encouraged to apply for any scholarships for which they are qualified.

Opportunities for Qualified Dentists in North Carolina

Dentists work in diverse settings, the most common of which are dentist’s offices, outpatient care centers, physician’s offices and hospitals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dentists made a mean annual salary of $167,160 in 2021. Those who work in dental specialties like orthodontics or oral surgery reported yearly salaries nearly double that amount. Many dentists also choose to run a business, either their own private practice or a more effective practice with multiple dentists and specialties, which could make earnings higher, though perhaps at the cost of an increased workload. Whichever route you choose, dentists have the potential for a long and lucrative career with many options for specializing and branching out. 

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