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10 Best Degrees for a Career in Dentistry What to study if you want to become a dentist

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Dentistry is an essential component of oral health care that involves everything from treating gum disease to providing adolescents and adults with braces. If you obtain the right schooling, there are many different dental careers that you can enter, which extend to dental hygienists, dental lab technicians, and dental assistants. While there are comprehensive educational requirements that you must meet if you want to become a dentist, the only undergraduate requirement is that you obtain some kind of undergraduate degree before you enroll into a four-year dental program.

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When completing your studies for this degree, you will also be tasked with taking pre-dental courses to assist with your studies and to make sure that you’re wholly prepared for dental school. Even though it’s possible to enroll into practically any undergraduate degree program when you want to become a dentist, there are some degrees that are more beneficial than others and will help prepare you for a career as a dentist. The following takes a look at ten of the best undergraduate degrees available to individuals who want to pursue a career in dentistry.

1. B.S. in Biochemistry

Biochemistry is a very popular undergraduate degree and area of study for students who would like to pursue a career in dentistry. Some of the top courses that are taken during a biochemistry degree include biology, calculus, physics, and chemistry. The subject matter that you learn will prepare you for careers in medical and pharmaceutical industries while also providing you with a wide variety of useful laboratory skills.

A degree in biochemistry will help you in your pursuit of a career in dentistry because every dentist must have a sound understanding of biochemistry for their jobs. All dentists must comprehend the molecular physiology of the body as well as the viruses and bacteria that live within. Dental health can impact the health of the rest of a person’s body, which is why biochemistry is essential. Even students who don’t obtain a biochemistry degree should take courses in the subject during their undergraduate studies.

During the course of obtaining a biochemistry degree, you will be provided with knowledge about the role that biochemistry plays in dentistry, which is mainly centered around specific dental problems. For instance, an understanding of biochemistry is necessary to better understand the formation of dental caries and plaque. Biochemistry also plays a key role in the advancement of diagnostic techniques and research for dentistry. These advancements occur at a rapid pace. Students who obtain a BS in biochemistry should gain an ample amount of experience working in state-of-the-art laboratories, which can prepare them for a career in dentistry.

2. Bachelor of Science in Physics

A Bachelor of Science in Physics degree is typically taken by students who are interested in starting a career within the physics research field. However, anyone who wants to become a dentist must take at least two semesters of physics courses. While it’s possible to take physics courses with another degree, a physics degree opens up numerous career paths that you might want to have access to. Physics is a very complicated subject that will prepare you for dental school.

The courses that are taken by students who are enrolled into a B.S. in Physics program provide the student with an extensive foundation of physics that can later be used in a career as a dentist. Most of the courses that you will be expected to take during this degree will include laboratory and classroom components. Along with some math, computer programming, and chemistry courses that you will be tasked with completing, the physics courses that you’ll need to take for this degree include:

  • Computational methods
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Digital and analog electronics
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Laboratory physics
  • Astrophysics

While a physics degree may not be necessary for some careers in the dentistry field, physics has a lot to do with dentistry. Oral surgery instruments, x-rays, and lasers are all rely on many of the principles that you’ll study during your physics classes. Many of the tools that are used by a dentist are based on principles of torsion and levers. Some of the more complicated aspects of dentistry require at least a basic understanding of the principles of physics.

3. B.S. in Molecular Biology

A Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology degree is a complex degree that involves an interdisciplinary science. Molecular biology combines aspects of science like genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, and biophysics. As such, the many courses that you take during this degree program will center on the four aforementioned subjects as well as mathematics, computer sciences, and chemistry. Many of the principles that are covered in the coursework provided in this degree program are integral for modern advancements in genetic engineering and biotechnology.

If you want to obtain an undergraduate degree in molecular biology, it’s highly recommended that you’re interested in the sciences. Many students who enroll into a degree program for molecular biology choose to minor in neurobiology, cell biology, or microbiology. The students who graduate with a B.S. in Molecular Biology will usually pursue a career in biomedical sciences. Molecular biology is an essential component of dentistry that allows dentists to better understand the diseases and health conditions that they treat. Since molecular biology centers around understanding the interactions between different systems of a cell, the very basis of oral health has to do with this particular subject.

The study of molecular biology also allows dentists to push for personalized care as opposed to a one-size-fits-all treatment methodology. With a basis of molecular biology, treatment can be tailored to meet the individual needs of each patient, which is why a degree in molecular biology can be helpful for any students who want to go into the dentistry field.

4. Biological Science

Biological science is an undergraduate degree option that students can enroll into when they want to become a dentist. During the course of your studies, you will learn about cellular, supracellular, molecular, and supramolecular processes, which provide the basis for dental medicine. These subjects are required by the majority of dental schools and can help you learn more about oral microbiology, bone biology, tooth development, and pain research, all of which are essential for dentists to understand before entering such a career.

Some of the field-related competencies that students will be prepared for when obtaining a degree in biological sciences include:

  • Understanding genetics
  • Understanding the role that biology plays in society
  • Comprehending the relationship between every living thing
  • Applying science to research
  • Integrating sustainable living practices whenever possible

As with the majority of science-related degrees that students can take before dental school, undergraduates who have enrolled into a biological sciences degree will take part in standard classroom lessons as well as laboratory work. While many colleges and universities that offer this type of degree allow students to choose when to take certain courses, consider taking chemistry before most other subjects. The principles that you learn in chemistry can make it simpler to understand the language of biology. Dentistry is among the top careers that people enter after having earned a biological sciences degree.

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5. Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering is a degree that provides undergraduate students with knowledge on how to apply the problem-solving techniques and principles of engineering to medicine and biology, which extends to dental medicine. Many students who obtain a biomedical engineering degree go on to enter a career in dental research. Biomedical engineering coursework allows students to better understand how to create devices and tools that are used by dentists and in dental offices. If you want to be involved in creating the technological advancements that help push the dental industry forward, a biomedical engineering degree may be right for you.

The main goal of a biomedical engineering degree is to help the student understand how to improve health with the skills that they have. When you obtain this degree, it can be used to enter a variety of different careers within the dental industry. Since you don’t need a specific degree to enter dental school, you could focus solely on becoming a dentist. You could also work on the advancement of dental implants or on breakthroughs with dental imaging. The coursework that students must take when completing a biomedical engineering degree includes aspects of chemistry, mathematics, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering.

When taking a biomedical engineering degree, many students are able to gain hands-on experience through internships and similar initiatives. As long as you take the right courses that will allow you to get into dental school, a biomedical engineering degree can help you become a dentist.

6. Biomedical Sciences

Biomedical sciences is a degree option that allows students to study the fields of medicine and biology with a focus on the health of humans and animals. The main issues that are explored in biomedical sciences coursework include medicine, disease, and human health, which can be integral towards better understanding oral health and the many ailments that an individual can experience in and around the mouth. The primary subjects of study with a biomedical sciences degree extend to genetics, anatomy, and chemistry.

You’ll learn how to promote and maintain health by obtaining knowledge on the basics of immunology, nutrition, and diseases. By the end of this four-year degree, you should be wholly prepared for the coursework that you’ll be expected to take in dental school. When taking a degree in biomedical sciences, it’s also possible to delve into fields like cell biology, toxicology, and parasitology, the latter of which can be particularly useful for anyone who wants to become a dentist. This degree will prepare you for evaluating new scientific findings and integrating them into the work that you do as a dentist. The biomedical sciences curriculum can train you to think critically, solve problems, perform self-evaluation, and act as an ethical practitioner.

7. Physiological Sciences

Physiological sciences is a bachelor’s degree option that focuses on the normal functions of organisms and their parts. Obtaining an undergraduate degree in physiological science can pave the way for dental school and a future career as a dentist. The coursework that you complete will:

  • Help you improve your verbal and written skills
  • Allow you to understand the fundamentals of physiology and vertebrate anatomy
  • Allow you to address questions and solve scientific problems
  • Give you the tools to apply critical thinking for your future dental work
  • Help you learn how to interpret results

The core curriculum of a degree in physiological science includes physics, mathematics, statistics, biochemistry, chemistry, and life sciences classes. When you take this degree, you should learn how the concepts and principles of physiological science apply to dental practice. To be fully knowledgeable of oral health care and the treatments that you will be tasked with administering as a dentist, you must understand cell physiology, nerve physiology, the central nervous system, and the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. This knowledge will be a core component of your future studies in dental school and may make it easier for you to get through dental school without struggling over the coursework.

8. Chemistry

A Bachelor of Science in Chemistry is a highly popular degree for undergraduate students who want to enter careers as chemists or go into adjacent fields like medicine, biology, and dentistry. The coursework that a chemistry student is expected to complete during this degree includes organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry. Some of the more specialized courses that you will take extend to chemical biology, nuclear chemistry, and analytical chemistry. Students who obtain a B.S. in Chemistry will gain comprehensive hands-on experience in a lab, which should prepare you for your eventual studies at dental school.

Many undergraduates who enroll into a chemistry degree will also join a research group to further their studies. Chemistry is a core facet of dentistry and is a requirement for anyone who wants to become a dentist. Dental schools require students to obtain two semesters of chemistry before they are allowed to enroll into a program. Since chemistry covers the study of matter, this particular degree will allow you to better understand dental diseases like tooth decay, the role of saliva in oral health, and the composition of teeth.

9. Pre-Dentistry Studies

Pre-Dentistry studies is a type of degree that’s offered by some colleges and universities around the country. The majority of universities provide pre-dentistry studies as a preparation program that doesn’t classify as an undergraduate major. Instead, the program is designed to help prepare students for dental school. However, certain universities allow students to obtain a B.S. Degree in Arts/Dentistry with the option of applying to dental school one year earlier than is typically possible. This type of degree will provide you with an expansive base for your eventual enrollment into dental school.

The coursework for a pre-dentistry studies degree focuses on all of the requirements that a dental school has. The main courses that you will be tasked with taking include general and organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, biology, and math. Once all of the required courses have been completed, you should be accepted into the dental school at the college or university that you’ve chosen to study at. Students will typically complete a year in residence following the completion of a three-year pre-dentistry studies program. This specific degree is ideal for individuals who want a streamlined path towards becoming a dentist.

10. Introductory Sociology

Introductory sociology is an undergraduate degree that isn’t specifically related to dentistry but will allow you to take many of the courses that are needed to prepare you for a career in dentistry. It’s also important to understand that obtaining this type of degree will give you access to a wide variety of career paths in and outside the field of dentistry.

Though not exactly integral to your eventual work as a dentist, introductory sociology takes a look at social life, social interaction, and sociological investigation. The many topics that are covered in introductory sociology classes include social class, race, information technology, and economic globalization.

During the course of your studies, you’ll learn about how to apply sociological ideas to your life, how your life is shaped by external factors, and what the lasting effects of social institutions and structures are. Along with this coursework, it’s important that you sign up for classes in biology, physics, English, organic chemistry, and general chemistry, which will provide you with the prerequisites you need for dental school.

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These are 10 of the best undergraduate degrees that students can seek when they wish to start a career in dentistry. Each degree will present to you the opportunity to take all of the courses that are required in dental school while also providing you with an education that can enhance your skills and better prepare you for the job requirements that a dentist has.

A degree in biochemistry can make it easier for you to understand how dental health issues develop. On the other hand, a degree in biomedical engineering may allow you to have a more in-depth knowledge of how dental tools work and how to get the most out of them. With a myriad of options to select from, the aforementioned degrees should give you a firm starting point when choosing the degree that’s right for you.

Salary Expectations for Dentistry Careers

There’s more to dentistry than just dentists and dental hygienists. Ancillary and support professionals are also key in this field and can earn you a good salary. Depending on where you live and what you do, we’ve researched national wage estimates for several dental careers.

Dental CareersAverage SalarySalary Range
General Dentistry (DDS)$160k$102k-$208k
Dentistry Specialists (DDS)$159k$174k-$238k
Dental Laboratory Manager$106k$90k-$124k
Dental Ceramist$64k$58k-$73k
Dental Hygienists$81k$62k-$108k
Dental Assistants$45k$31k-$59k
Dental Laboratory Technicians$41k$30k-$66k
(Sources: U.S. News and World Report, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and

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Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?