How to Become a Dentist in Oregon
Dentistry is a well-respected medical field that has been around for centuries. Thankfully, unlike in ancient times, modern dentistry is heavily regulated and treated like any other medical science. Dentists endure long years of training to receive their dental license in the U.S. Their efforts are repaid by their incredible income.
Dentists are some of the highest-paying skilled professions out there. The dental field also has a wide range of jobs. Because of diversity and the work put in, dentists across the U.S. earn roughly $80,000 to $300,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Despite the high pay and great demand in the field, it isn’t easy to receive a dental license. All states have regulations on the profession. Applicants are required to show proof of multiple examinations and competency to obtain a license.
They are also required to have a formal education. Subsequently, each school has standards that you must meet. Many schools have GPA and degree requirements. Acceptance into dental school is also competitive, with the acceptance rate in the U.S. for all dental schools combined each year at approximately 50%.
Oregon Dentistry Requirements
The state of Oregon has placed less strict but more detailed regulations on the industry, allowing them to manage individual cases more carefully. The Oregon Board of Dentistry oversees the state’s laws and management of dentistry.
The board requires all applicants to have completed a formal education. Upon applying, one must at least have the following:
- Evidence of completing an approved educational program
- Evidence of passing a board exam or other approved exam
- Proof of being 18 years of age at minimum
- A background check
- Completed a pain management course administered by the state
- A completed application and the application fee
Other requirements are subject to the discretion of the board. Contact the board or a local office when applying for a license to ensure your application is complete and accompanied by the correct documents, as the fee is not refundable.
Oregon State Board Examinations
Most states require applicants to complete two examinations and show documentation. Oregon also requires this. However, their system functions differently from other states. Oregon administers its own test that includes a written and clinical element.
Applicants may request to take this state board exam as proof of competency. However, the state will accept third-party examinations if they satisfy the required testing elements. Oregon will accept the following tests:
- 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)
The board does not require any specific number of examinations, only that the test satisfies the requirements. Check with a local official or contact the board to confirm the required testing elements.
Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry
The Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry (OHSU) provides students with a collaborative environment that intermingles students from many different medical disciplines. Their waterfront building houses both clinical patient care facilities and the entire school of dentistry. This allows students to experience the most realistic environment during their studies.
Doctor of Dental Medicine Degree
OHSU’s Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) is a comprehensive program in general dentistry. The program is 47 months, making it roughly a 4-year program. Students going into this program will spend an initial six-week term in the summer when they begin the program and then will spend 12 weeks in each subsequent term.
The first patient experience for students is in the fall term of their first year. The early introduction sets the tone for the remainder of the program. It allows students to understand how theoretical classroom knowledge applies to practice.
The first two years of the program place heavy emphasis on theoretical classroom knowledge. Though there are more clinical experiences, the classes cover primarily biological science and preclinical practices before moving on to the program’s second half. The last two years of the program are mainly, though not exclusively, focused on clinical training and experience in a clinical setting with patients.
Advanced Education Programs
The advanced education programs at OHSU are post-graduate programs for people who have completed a program at an accredited dental school. OHSU only accepts U.S. or Canadian dental schools. No foreign dental degrees are accepted for these programs. There are six programs ranging from endodontics to periodontics. The programs vary in length and expenses.
Career Options Post-graduation
After graduating and receiving a dental license from the state of Oregon, dentists have several options for work. First is practicing general dentistry. The duties of these dentists include inspection, disease prevention, cleanings and tooth repair. There are many public and private practices across the state one can work for. This is the most common route and pays an exceptional wage.
Another option is returning to school for post-graduate education. OHSU’s advanced education programs are just one of the many education options available in the country. After completing one of these programs and being certified in a specialized field, dentists can continue working as general dentists or utilize their degrees.
Specialized dentists are in higher demand and earn significantly more income than general dentists. While dentists make an average of $200,00 a year, dental surgeons can earn an average of $300,000.
Long-time professionals or specialized dentists who want to give back to the dental community can go on to become professors. Universities like OHSU welcome standout professionals who are passionate about their field and educating future generations.
Working as a professor allows you to continue practicing dentistry in a clinical setting, treating the public and spreading oral care awareness while instructing students on the best practices and management.
This is also great for dentists who want to further the industry by way of research. Universities receive some of the most extensive research funding in the country. They are great for expanding technology, uncovering new threats and creating better methods of practice that will galvanize the future of dentistry.