Is dental school right for me?

October 13, 2020

There’s a lot to consider before deciding to attend dental school. Before committing significant finances and time, consider pros and cons of the profession, your unique skill set and strengths. Then visualize your immediate future and a professional career through retirement.

Trying to distinguish if a career in dentistry is right for you? Review the information here to get the decision-making process started.

Take into account:

  •  Hand-eye coordination: As a dentist, you can expect to be working on an extremely small scale where strong hand-eye coordination will come into play.
  •  Empathy: As a care provider, it is important to be able to empathize with the patient. Being able to put yourself into their shoes during an operation or treatment plan can make all the difference in making a patient feel comfortable in the practice.

Consider these factors:

  •  Prerequisites: When applying to dental school, contact the admissions department with questions and confirm that you are not missing any prerequisite courses from undergraduate school.
  •  Time: A dental education can encompass four to seven years. Dental school typically requires a four-year course of study. Specialty degrees such as orthodontics require an additional three years of school.
  •  Location: Often the city where you attend dental school will translate into your future residence and practice location reside. Is it far from family?


  • Altruism: As a dentist, you are altering someone’s physical appearance in a positive way! Brightening a smile be the confidence boost a patient’s needs.
  •  Financial stability: Opening your own practice can provide financial stability for years to come.
  • Self-employment: You are your own boss in the practice. As a leader, set your hours and vacation times, and hire the in-practice team that fits the environment.


  • Cost: Dental school is expensive. The average student graduates with $300,000 in debt. However, it’s possible to seek out scholarship opportunities to offset tuition costs.
  • Lack of benefits: As a self-employed entrepreneur, you won’t receive a built-in benefit package – health insurance, retirement – unless decided upon by you.
  • Sacrifice. Studying while others enjoy free time can be no fun. It might be difficult to watch peers in their 20s fill their off hours with diversions and activities, but a sacrifice for your education is necessary.

Hard work pays off. Cliche, but for dentistry, accurate. The investment of time and finances will be worthwhile when the day comes to open a dental practice and impact the lives of others in the best way. Understand that dental school is not for everyone. If you decide to follow through, remember you chose that path for a reason. Success is not immediate, but in a profession like dentistry, it will come.