How to Become a Dentist in Ohio

Dentistry is the kind of career that is always in demand. People continue to need dental care throughout their lives and are more aware than ever of the importance of dental and oral health. Working as a dentist can provide job security and a good salary while also being meaningful work.

If you are interested in becoming a dentist in Ohio, learn more about what it takes. You’ll need pre-dentistry coursework or a degree and an excellent application. Dental schools are limited, and admissions are highly competitive.

Ohio’s Requirements for Dentists

The Ohio State Dental Board licenses professional dentists. To apply, you must have all the requirements completed in advance:

  • Complete school transcripts, including those from an accredited dental college
  • Passing scores on one of the required exams, or a license in good standing from another state, or proof of completion of an approved dental residency program
  • Proof of a hepatitis B vaccine
  • A passing score on a jurisprudence exam on the Dental Practice Act
  • The full application fee of $454 on even years or $267 on odd years

Once licensed as a dentist in the state, you must renew the license every year with 40 or more hours of continuing education credits.

Board Exams

When applying to be a licensed dentist in any state, you must include passing scores on approved Board exams. Each state determines which exams are valid for licensing. Ohio accepts the following Regional Board exams:

  • Central Regional Dental Testing Service
  • Commission on Dental Competency Assessments
  • Council of Interstate Testing Agencies
  • Northeast Regional Board of Dental Examiners
  • Southern Regional Dental Testing Agency
  • Western Regional Examining Board

Two schools in Ohio offer a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree. Although they go by different names, these two degrees are the same and lead to a career as a licensed dentist. Other schools in the state can prepare you for dental school with pre-dentistry programs.

Ohio Dental Schools and Programs

University of Dayton, Dayton

The University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, is a Catholic research university located in the southwestern part of the state. Among the many options is a major in pre-dentistry, which prepares graduates to enroll in a D.D.S. or D.M.D. program.

The program focuses on biomedical and science-focused courses but is also self-directed to some degree. Students can choose from two minors to enhance their degree and later career options: Medicine in Society or Quality Assurance in Life Science Industries.

In addition to coursework, students in this program complete a clinical experience. The school ensures that every student has an opportunity to get this valuable hands-on experience. They can also choose to shadow licensed dentists, which the school arranges for students.

Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland

The School of Dental Medicine at Case Western is one of just two dental schools in Ohio. It offers students several degree options depending on their career goals:

  • Doctor of Dental Medicine. This is the professional degree for students who hope to become licensed dentists. It is a four-year program. The school uses REAL curriculum, which stands for relevant experiential active learning. The focus is on small-group learning, inquiry, self-direction, and cornerstone experiences.
  • D.M.D/Master of Public Health. Students can also choose to combine a D.M.D. professional degree with a master’s degree in public health. The program is designed to train dentists to bring dental care to their communities and to improve the health of populations.
  • D.M.D./Master in Clinical Research. Another option is to add in a degree in clinical research. This is for students who hope to have an academic and research career in dentistry and dental health.
  • Post-Doctoral Programs. Case Western also offers a variety of post-doctoral programs for dentists who want to specialize in certain areas of dental care: dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, and periodontics.

Ohio State University, Columbus

OSU is the other university in the state with an accredited dental school. The College of Dentistry trains professional licensed dentists through a D.D.S program. It also offers a degree in dental hygiene, specialty training for dentists, and dual degree programs. OSU’s dental school is the fourth largest in the country and provides students with numerous opportunities for education and work experience.

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery. The D.D.S. program is the professional degree course of study for students who plan to become licensed dentists. Admissions to this program are highly competitive. For the class of 2025, it received 1,244 applications and admitted 120.
  • D.D.S./Master of Public Health. This dual degree course confers a professional degree and a master’s in public health to students interested in this angle of dentistry. Students complete two years of the D.D.S. program and then enroll in the College of Public Health.
  • D.D.S./Ph.D. Students interested in becoming a dentist and having a career in academia can choose the Ph.D. dual degree program. This program takes seven years to complete and confers a Ph.D. in oral biology.
  • Advanced and Specialty Degrees. OSU also offers dentists graduate programs and advanced training in several areas of dental health. These include oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, endodontics, orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, pediatric dentistry, dental anesthesiology, and general practice residency.

Job Opportunities for Dentists in Ohio

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), positions for dentists are growing at a rate of 8% across the U.S. The BLS also reports that American dentists earn $163,220 per year on average. Unfortunately, growth in dental careers has stalled in Ohio but remains relatively stable.

For a dentist with the right credentials and licensing, finding work in the state should not be difficult. Dentists are needed in all areas, but the most opportunities are in the biggest cities: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, and Dayton.

Most dentists work in dental offices or own their private practices. You can also find jobs with the government and public health agencies, in hospitals and at universities. Alternative careers for licensed dentists include dental instruction and education, dental research, consulting, dental product development, dental insurance, and non-profit work.

The path to becoming a dentist in Ohio is not short, but it’s worth the time and effort if you are passionate about healthcare and making a difference for people daily.

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