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How to Become a Dentist in New Jersey

Dentistry is a well-respected industry with a diverse range of well-paid and progressive fields. This rewarding career choice helps millions of people across the U.S. maintain their teeth and even recover from life-threatening complications.

Unlike the ancient history of dentists, modern dentistry is heavily regulated by state governments. Though some states do not require training or experience to become dental assistants, formal education and licensure are required for all dentists and the diverse subsections of specializations.

Though Dentistry is diverse and in high demand, there are many regulations and rules, making the field difficult and costly to break into. First, each state has laid out rules for obtaining a license.

These rules usually include completion of several examinations, specific qualifications and certifications, formal education and proof of graduation. Before one can graduate, many universities’ dental programs have strict prerequisites and GPA requirements. The average annual acceptance rate to these programs is roughly 50%.

New Jersey Dentistry Requirements

Most states in the U.S. impose regulations on the field of dentistry. The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) manages Dentistry in New Jersey.

The DCA requires residents to apply for a license after they meet the requirements. A non-refundable $50 fee must accompany all applications. Some of the requirements of the application include:

  • An official transcript from the dean or secretary of the attended university
  • A regulation photograph
  • Proof of completing a clinical examination
  • Proof of completing parts one and two of the National Board Dental Examination
  • Completing the jurisprudence examination
  • Passing a criminal background check

These must all be mailed to the appropriate address, and no part of the application can be completed online. To ensure that the application is complete and accurate to the best of the applicant’s knowledge, DCA recommends carefully checking their requirements and contacting them for further information, should it be needed.

New Jersey Board Examination

States generally require two board examinations to become a licensed dentist. One is the National Board Dental Examination. As the name suggests, this is an exam held across the country as a single standard.

The second exam is a clinical examination administered by a certified public or private organization. Because several exams are offered, each state carefully selects which tests they will approve. Many states accept a range of them.

However, New Jersey only allows a single clinical exam for licensure: the North East Regional Board examination (NERB). As of 2022, this exam has been changed to the Commission on Dental Competency Assessment (CDCA).

Rutgers School of Dental Medicine

Rutgers School of Dental Medicine is a top 25 public national university. It is the only dental school in New Jersey. With 14 outstanding dental education programs, it offers the public the best dental care available. Rutgers programs include a doctor of dental medicine (D.M.D.), endodontics, and more.

The school provides excellent opportunities to aspiring dentists for specialization and post-graduate education. These programs allow dentists and students to pursue the field they are most passionate about and make a change in their lives and the lives of others.

Department of Pediatric Dentistry & Community Health

At Rutgers University, students can take pediatrics in their specialty program. Pediatrics is defined mainly by the age of the patients. Like general dentistry, students in the program learn about cleaning, filling, extraction, sealants, x-rays and general examinations.

However, this is coupled with a heavy focus on performing these tasks on infants and children through adolescence.

Much of the focus is placed on behavioral management and minimizing trauma both mentally and physically. Students also learn how to care for primary teeth and permanent ones as these have different purposes and treatments depending on the stage of development.

In the same department is the community health program. This program targets disadvantaged communities and those at high risk. The faculty and students collaborate to deliver oral health education and information to the public. They also research, develop and run clinical trials on new technology and products that improve public oral health.

Department of Restorative Dentistry

The Department of Restorative Dentistry focuses on the academic and research elements of the dental profession. It upholds the school’s ethical, excellent and inclusive standards while pursuing the betterment of the oral health industry. Students in this postdoctoral program prioritize patient care, academic rigor, the pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of dental technology and programs.

In particular, students in this department are looking toward the future. They develop new technology and programs to garner research funding. A current focus is the field of digital dentistry. Rutgers University’s restorative dentistry program is part of the leading edge in the future of dentistry and dental education.

Post-Program Career Opportunities

After completing a program, most dental students receive their doctorate degrees and enter the dental industry as general dentists. Some will return to school to specialize in other dental fields that are in higher demand and pay more.

For pediatric program graduates, the path is similar. Graduates can start their own practice or go into public health and treat children and teens. They can also specialize further in pediatric surgery and other areas.

Community health graduates will have some similar options. They will be able to perform general oral care to patients. However, much of their work will be centered around helping disadvantaged populations.

This can lead to many different jobs. Graduates can utilize this particular degree by joining public health commissions or non-profit organizations and aiding in their mission. Another option is to go abroad and assist countries in need by curating programs and educating the general public about oral care.

Restorative dentistry graduates will naturally have the option to go into general practice. However, this degree allows many graduates to join research teams or take a professorship with universities like Rutgers University.

Further specialization in fields like orthodontics and endodontics is also beneficial. It provides greater knowledge and the opportunity to craft innovation and bring new technology into existence. This program grants graduates excellent diversity in their options.

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