How to Become a Dentist in Wisconsin
Are you considering attending dental school? This is a big decision because the school you attend will impact your career for years. You want to ensure you have all the necessary information before selecting a school to attend.
It should be noted that there are only 70 accredited dental schools in the U.S., which may limit your choices. Some things to consider are your state’s requirements for working in the field of dentistry, how to become certified and what you want to do with your education. When you have the answers to these questions, you can confidently choose the right dental school.
After you have chosen a school, you should check that you meet the requirements to attend. Remember that admission to dental school is competitive- in 2019, only 55% of applicants in the U.S. were accepted to a school of dentistry.
State Requirements for Dentistry in Wisconsin
You must meet specific requirements to work in the dental industry, which will vary by state and the job you choose. For instance, the criteria for becoming a dentist differ from the criteria you would need to meet to become a dental assistant.
- Complete an undergraduate program at an accredited institution
- Pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT)
- Earn either a doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.) or a doctor of medical dentistry (D.M.D.) degree
- Pass the national dental examination
- Pass an examination administered by the board on the rules relating to dentistry
- Pass a CPR course
- Provide proof of the above to the board for approval of a license
These rules apply to anyone attempting to become a dentist in Wisconsin. Furthermore, the board may have other requirements, particularly if someone is pursuing a specialty in dentistry, such as orthodontics or periodontics. Applicants must submit the licensing applications with a non-refundable fee, so check with the state board for further requisites to ensure you have everything in order before applying.
Becoming a Dental Assistant in Wisconsin
Wisconsin does not license dental assistants. However, dentists must train dental assistants and document all training and certifications completed with verifiable records.
The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) lists the following duties for dental assistants in Wisconsin:
- Process dental x-rays
- Sterilize instruments and equipment
- Take impressions
Dental assistants in Wisconsin may not perform:
- Any duties pertaining to nitrous oxide, aside from monitoring the patient’s condition while undergoing such treatment
- Procedures that may cause permanent damage to the mouth or teeth
- A procedure that may cause adverse reactions
- Assessments, screenings or treatment plans
Because of these restrictions, most dentists will only hire a dental assistant with some experience or formal training. Dental assisting programs are available. These programs take 9-11 months to complete, and many have accreditation through the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services’ Dentistry Examining Board licenses dental hygienists in the state. To become a dental hygienist in Wisconsin, applicants must:
- Complete an approved Dental Hygiene program
- Pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE)
- Pass an approved clinical dental hygiene exam
- Apply for a license with the board
- Keep the license up-to-date
Wisconsin allows dental hygienists to administer local anesthetics if they take the proper courses and pass an exam. Dental hygienists must also complete courses and an exam on dentistry laws and CPR.
Wisconsin Dentistry Boards and Licensing
The Wisconsin Dentistry Board accepts these exams as proof of competency after a student has obtained a degree in dentistry:
- American Board of Dental Examiners
- Council of Interstate Testing Agency
- The Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA)
- Western Regional Examining Board (WREB)
- Central Regional Dental Testing Score (CRDTS)
- Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
Those seeking a dental license must also complete a state ethics examination and an open-book exam on the Wisconsin Statutes and Administrative Code. Dentists in Wisconsin must be re-licensed and take additional classes to keep their license current.
Choosing Marquette University’s School of Dental Medicine
Marquette University’s School of Dental Medicine is Wisconsin’s only dental school. The university offers advanced clinical resources and technology to train students to provide quality dental care.
This CODA-accredited school enrolls only 100 first-year students yearly. These 100 students consist of 50 Wisconsin residents and 50 non-residents.
At Marquette University, students will find:
- A challenging curriculum
- A program that serves communities in need
The dental school boasts a 40,000-square-foot facility and a 5,000-square-foot laboratory, which includes a 24-chair clinic, an expanded simulation lab and various classroom and student spaces.
Aside from degrees in general dentistry, Marquette University also offers the following graduate degree programs:
- Dental Biomaterials- M.S.
- Endodontics- M.S.
- Orthodontics- M.S.
- Periodontics- M.S.
- Prosthodontics- M.S.
Additionally, this university is one of six U.S. dental schools with a Special Care Dentistry Association (SCDA) student group. This group is specifically trained to administer dental services to individuals who have special needs.
Visit the school’s website to learn more about its admissions requirements, fees, curriculum and areas of study.
Opportunities After Graduation
After graduation, students can become licensed in dentistry in Wisconsin or any other state that administers exams to graduates from a CODA-accredited university. Graduates can then move into the workforce or continue learning in the dental field and become a professional in one of the many specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA).
Those specialties include:
- Dental Anesthesiology
- Pediatric Dentistry
- Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
- Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
- Dental Public Health
- Orofacial Pain
- Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
- Oral Medicine
People interested in dentistry in Wisconsin have many opportunities to pursue a career that is perfect for them. Still, that career must start with a solid education, which comes from choosing the right dental school. School will be challenging, but the career can be rewarding.