How to Become a Dentist in Oklahoma
One gratifying occupation for young men and women to go into is dentistry. It is a well-respected field of work with a long history. Modern dentistry is a carefully researched science with many regulations. Dentists are also paid well for their work.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed dental workers made between $80,000 and $300,000 as of May 2021. The wide range of income comes from the diversity of fields dentists can enter.
While there is a high demand for dentists and many fields of specialization, dentistry is a complex career and requires time and resources. Each state has its own requirements for obtaining a dental license.
States across the country require formal education, and Schools give students a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.). These schools also have their own requirements for entrance and graduation, and admission is competitive.
Oklahoma Dentistry Requirements
Oklahoma has strict requirements for obtaining a dental license. The Oklahoma Board of Dentistry is the governing body for dentistry in the state, and it sets forth the laws and regulations of the industry.
According to the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, applicants for a dental license must be at least 21 years of age before they may apply and must complete several examinations. Other requirements include:
- Being of good moral character
- Passing a written theoretical and clinical examination
- Passing the National Board Dental Examination
- Passing the Jurisprudence examination
- Proof of graduation from an accredited dental university or program
- A completed written application
- An application fee
This list is not exhaustive, and the board recommends contacting them or checking with local officials before applying to ensure all requirements and documents are needed.
The application must also be completed and mailed directly to the correct address. Failure to supply and meet all requirements can result in rejection.
Oklahoma State Board Examinations
Each state generally requires applicants to have completed two examinations before they apply for a dental license. The first is the National Board Dental Examination. This is a national standard that blankets the country. It is the same in each state. The second is a clinical examination.
These are provided by different organizations and serve as proof of competency in place of experience and credentials. Because the state does not run them, several of these exams are offered to recent graduates. The state carefully chooses which ones are acceptable. Oklahoma accepts the following clinical examinations:
- The Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA)
- Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA)
- Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS)
- Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
- Western Regional Examining Board (WREB)
Only one of these tests is required when applying for a license. However, you must submit scores from all tests taken if you take more than one.
Oklahoma University College of Dentistry
Oklahoma University (OU) College of Dentistry has the only D.D.S. program in the state. Its goal is to become the country’s top dental education and research institute.
Applicant numbers for their traditional four-year and international programs have recently increased. Many dental programs in America have prerequisite classes that must be completed. Contact OU for more information about prior course requirements for their dental programs.
Doctor of Dental Surgery Program
OU’s D.D.S. program is a traditional four-year program and is currently among the best programs in the nation. This program prioritizes giving students the necessary skills and abilities to graduate and become competent, skilled dentists who know how to care for patients and satisfy their dental needs.
They do this by utilizing didactic and theoretical education, preclinical course work and progressive clinical patient care in their dental offices.
The program’s first year focuses on the course work and theoretical knowledge of the dental field, which is the bulk of the in-class lessons. The subsequent years of the program move away from bookwork and into the practice area.
Students begin utilizing state-of-the-art simulated patient experiences and laboratory work. The final years of the degree will be applying this knowledge in significant patient treatment opportunities.
Advanced Education in General Dentistry
At OU, graduates can apply to and attend the Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) program. This residency program allows residents to gain valuable knowledge to propel their careers forward. The program is comprehensive and designed to enhance clinical skills and productivity in a realistic environment.
The AEGD program provides students with a broad range of patient care opportunities. Students will spend approximately 80% of the program on direct patient care in a group practice environment. Students will have the same experience as practicing dentists in their careers. This makes the program an excellent experience for those who wish to open a private practice.
Career Options Post-Graduation
Graduates from OU will have all the necessary skills and knowledge to pass the board examinations and receive their Oklahoma state dental license. After receiving a license, graduates can become general dentists and go into public or private practice.
The tasks involved include inspections, cleanings, fillings and more. This may not be the final stop for many dentists, though.
After completing a general dentistry degree, many graduates and professionals have the opportunity to specialize in a subfield of dentistry, such as orthodontics or endodontics.
These fields are in higher demand than general dentistry and pay significantly more in most states. General dentists earned roughly $165,000 on average in Oklahoma as of 2021. Dental surgeons could earn up to $300,000 a year by comparison.
Once a dentist has worked or specialized for many years, they may wish to give back to the community. So, another opportunity they can take advantage of is a professorship. Dental professors continue their clinical work in a public setting while teaching students by lecture or clinical practice.
This is also the best opportunity for people who want to pursue research and further the domain of dental knowledge. Universities often have the most funding for research and provide the tools, resources, and connections necessary for bringing new practices and technology to fruition.
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