About the Profession

Dentists diagnose and treat diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth and mouth. They perform surgical procedures such as implants, tissue grafts and extractions, and can improve a patient’s appearance by using a variety of cosmetic dental procedures. Dentists educate patients on how to better care for their teeth and prevent oral disease. Some dentists also teach dental students and dental hygienists or perform research directed to improving oral health and developing new treatment methods.

Studies in dentistry take four years to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) with additional years for a residency to specialize. There are 66 schools of dental medicine in the U.S. and they belong to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). Most use the centralized American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). Information about dental admissions for all US and Canadian schools can be found in the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools. There are five dental schools now in New York State: SUNY at Buffalo and Stony Brook are public; NYU, Columbia and Touro are private. Please visit the American Dental Education Association (ADEA)  for more information.

Your Record

From the time you begin college, you are assembling a complete dossier with which to apply to dental schools.

To apply usually requires five achievements:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree in any major.
  • Achieve excellent grades; most recently admitted students had overall and science average GPAs around 3.5.
  • Earn a good score on the DAT (Dental Admissions Test). Averages for recently accepted applicants were in the 19-20 range.
  • Obtain letters of recommendation. 
  • Involve yourself in sincere, sustained dental related volunteer work. Research is a plus.

Special Programs

The University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine's Destination Dental School (DDS) is an eight-week, summer pathway program for individuals interested in a career in dentistry. This program prepares students who have been historically underrepresented in the profession to successfully apply and be accepted to dental school. DDS fellows participate in seven weeks of virtual Saturday meetings, and then visit the UB School of Dental Medicine for a one-week, in-person, intensive training program. Through the DDS program, Fellows learn about the dental profession and dental school application and financing strategies, study for the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), participate in hands-on activities, conduct research projects, and network with faculty mentors, dental students and community leaders. DDS fellows receive Dental Admissions Test (DAT) study resources, reimbursement for one DAT, a waived application fee to UB SDM, and a stipend to cover the costs of travel and lodging for the in-person component.

Course Requirements

Start planning as a freshman to meet the following course requirements: a minimum of one year each of chemistry, organic chemistry, biology and physics, all with a year of lab; one year of English; and one year of math recommended. Several require biochemistry and/or microbiology. Below are the UB courses we recommended to meet these requirements.

Pre-Dental Course Requirements
Chemistry (Required and on DAT) CHE 101-102 w/labs 113-114, or 105-106, or 107-108 w/labs 127-128 10 credits
Organic Chemistry (Required and on DAT) CHE 201-202, or 203-204 w/labs 205-206, or 251-252 10 credits
Biology (Required and on DAT) BIO 200, and BIO 201 w/lab 211 9 credits
Physics (Required) PHY 101-102 w/labs 151-152, or
PHY 107-108 or 117-118 w/lab 158*
10 credits
English/Writing (Required) Communication Literacy 1 and 2
(If any waived take 3 or 6 credits of writing intensive, literature-based courses – check with prehealth advisor if unsure)
6 credits
Biochemistry (Highly Recommended – required by UB Dental and many other schools, also on DAT) BCH 403 or BIO 305 with optional lab of BIO 315 3-5 credits
Calculus (Highly Recommended – some schools require) MTH 121 or 141 4 credits
Human Physiology (Highly Recommended and on DAT) PGY 300 or PGY 451-452 4-6 credits
Statistics (Highly Recommended and on DAT) STA 119 or PSY 207 or STA 427 4 credits
Microbiology (Recommended as it is required by some dental schools and frequently recommended by others) MIC 401 4 credits
Genetics (Recommended as genetics topics expanded on DAT starting in January 2022) BIO 319 or BCH 410 3 credits

*Consult with a prehealth advisor regarding additional lab requirements if taking a physics sequence which includes only one lab.

Online prerequisite courses, including English, are strongly discouraged as many professional schools will not accept them.

Some dental schools may have additional courses required or recommended. Review the admission requirements of U.S. and Canadian dental schools in the preprofessional health advisor’s office, the undergraduate library, or purchase your own copy from the ADEA.

All required courses must be taken for a grade. Each school has its own policy about AP credit. Usually, AP credit in these areas should be followed with additional upper level work in the discipline including labs. AP credit in math is the only subject in which more advanced work is not necessarily required.

Additional Courses

To further strengthen your application, here are some additional UB courses you could take:

  • APY 345/346 – Comparative Primate Anatomy
  • APY 348 – Forensic Anthropological Osteology
  • APY 448 – Human Genetics/Legal and Ethical Issues
  • BIO 367 – Developmental Biology
  • BIO 303 – General Physiology
  • PAS 313 (formerly 113) – Human Anatomy
  • PAS 427 – Premedical Gross Anatomy