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How to Become a Dentist in South Carolina

Dentistry is a highly respected and well-paid industry across the United States (U.S.). The field is diverse and ranges from working in a public health practice in dental medicine to educating future generations of dental surgeons. Because of the diversity, there are many jobs and a wide range of annual incomes.

However, the industry requires formal education for many of the highest-paying positions. Students in dental programs can receive a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree.

Despite the diversity of positions and fields of study, dentistry is still demanding. A limited number of schools have programs that accept dental students. National acceptance rates to dental schools are roughly 50%, meaning the requirements for dentistry are quite high. Each state has its own requirements, and each school will have more standards.

South Carolina Dentistry Requirements

Like most states in the U.S., the state of South Carolina has strict requirements for dentistry. The state requires formal education and a series of tests to qualify for a license in dentistry. While the accepted clinical examinations are marginally different for dentists and dental hygienists, the other requirements are identical. According to the South Carolina Labor Licensing Regulation (SCLLR), the requirements are as follows:

  • Graduate from an institution approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)
  • Pass the National Board Examination
  • Pass a clinical examination accepted for board licensure
  • Be certified in CPR
  • Have a good moral character
  • Pass the SC Jurisprudence Examination

The application fee for dentists is $300, and for dental hygienists is $150. Applicants must also submit their identification, a letter of reference and all educational and examination documents.

South Carolina State Board Examinations

When applying for a dentistry license, you need to have successfully passed a clinical examination. There are several exams available in the U.S. for dentistry. However, South Carolina only accepts four tests for a dental license. Dental hygienists may have a broader range of accepted exams, but these are the most widely recognized for both licenses.

Only one of these four clinical examinations is required for licensure. There is a fee that is associated with each test. Students are allowed multiple attempts on each test.

Dental Education in South Carolina

Medical University of South Carolina

Students can find the best dental program in South Carolina at The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). MUSC is the only school offering a doctoral degree in dentistry in South Carolina, and it provides students a D.M.D. The school boasts 311 students in its program as of 2022. They serve over 65,000 patients a year, are number 35 in research funding and received roughly $4,000,000 in funding each year between 2014 and 2016.

MUSC Dental Program

In MUSC’s dual degree, Dentist Scientist Training Program (DSTP), students spend seven to eight years completing the program. The first year is a year of dental school. Following this is approximately four years spent researching. The final three years are spent on the dental school curriculum.

The program is ever-evolving to meet the needs of students and the industry. The current breakdown provides a better sense of direction and higher retention of fundamental and research skills gained throughout the years. There are various stipends and tuition coverages offered by the school and outside programs to aid students in covering the cost of the degree.

MUSC Dental Program Requirements

The program is highly competitive and has strict requirements. The school accepts 75 students per year to their program. While most dental schools require a four-year bachelor’s degree, MUSC does not. Instead, they have specific requirements in the areas of science, math, and English.

These must be completed at an accredited institution, including technical and community colleges. Students who meet the educational prerequisites and want to enter the program must complete two applications before being considered complete and being able to begin the reviewing process.

The first application is the American Dental Education Association Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS). Applicants must submit official transcripts from all institutions they previously attended, Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores, and a minimum of three letters of recommendation.

The second application is the Supplemental MUSC application. This can be found on their website when applying for the dental program. To submit an application, you must create an account and sign in.

Career Opportunities Post-Graduation

Dentistry is a high-demand and well-paid industry. Dentists and related professionals will always be in-demand because people will always need dental work.

This makes the profession an excellent career for longevity. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dentists made an average annual income between roughly $130,000 and $250,000 as of May 2021. Other dental professionals, such as dental hygienists, earned between $40,000 and $70,000.

Graduates can choose from various jobs after completing their education and receiving a license. General, public dentistry is one option. These dentists handle general tasks such as examination and diagnosis, injuries and other damage to teeth and gums.

Dentists may also choose to start a private practice and be the sole or co-owner of their business. This allows them more income potential, and they can determine their own schedule and rates.

Another popular option is education. Dentists can choose to work for reputable and acclaimed universities like MUSC. Here, dentists can serve patients at the university while simultaneously teaching and mentoring future generations. These positions also come with a heavy focus on research, which is excellent for dental practitioners who want to further advance their fields.

Dentists also have the option to specialize. Orthodontists, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, Prosthodontists and other specialized fields offer far greater income potential. They are also in higher demand, making jobs in these fields easier to find than in general dentistry. Some of these specialized fields can be worked while also being an educator.

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