The Specialties of Dentistry

Dentistry is a dynamic and rewarding career allowing for the improvement of one's overall health, well-being and appearance. It deals with the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and injuries involving the teeth, oral cavity, maxillofacial area and any other related area and its effects on the body. Of course, a dentists job includes much more than just cleaning and drilling teeth. It incorporates many different surgical and non-surgical procedures and enhancements that essentially improves the quality of life. However, not every dentist does the same procedures. Some may specialize or focus on certain areas.

There are currently nine (9) specialties of the field of Dentistry

1. Dental Public Health - This is the science and art of preventing and controlling dental diseases and promoting dental health through organized community efforts. It is that form of dental practice which serves the community as a patient rather than the individual.

2. Endodontics - This specialty is concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues.hi specialty is concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues.

 3. Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology - This is the discipline of pathology that deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. It is a science that investigates the causes, processes, and effects of these diseases.

4. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery - This includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.

5. Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology - this is the discipline of radiology concerned with the production and interpretation of images and data produced by all modalities of radiant energy that are used for the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region.

6. Orthodontics and Dentofacial OrthopedicsThis includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion, as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures.

7. Pediatric Dentistry (formerly known as Pedodontics) - This is an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs.

8. Periodontics - This encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues.

9. Prosthodontics - This pertains to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes.


Is Dentistry Right for You?

Dentistry is the health profession dealing with the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and injuries involving the teeth, oral cavity, maxillofacial area and any other related area and its effects on the body. There is a common misconception that the job of a dentist is to simply fill and clean teeth. This is untrue. The job of a dentist extends way beyond such tasks and involves even more tedious tasks such as performing root canal treatments, extraction of teeth, creating crowns and bridges, placing implants, constructing dentures, treating gum diseases, screening for oral cancers, to name a few. Of course, the scope of tasks extend even further once one chooses to specialize (Click here to see specialties of Dentistry).

Dentistry is a dynamic and rewarding career allowing for the improvement of one's overall health, well-being and appearance. This career makes a fruitful marriage of art and science and affords one a balanced lifestyle. For one to be a dentist, one must possess excellent hand-eye coordination, paramount manual dexterity, a love for people and a dedication to service. Well developed manual dexterity is of paramount importance to the dentist as he/she has to work in the small confines of the oral cavity.
The average dental salary range comes in around  $147,000 per annum, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this figure changes with different areas of specialization.

Dentistry is a very rewarding career. If you love working with people, dedicated to service and have a love for science and art and want a  career that will afford a balanced lifestyle, then perhaps Dentistry is right for you. 

For more help in figuring out if Dentistry is right for you, visit the American Dental Association (ADA)

GPA isn't Everything!

When applying to Dental School, your grade point average  (GPA) is
undoubtedly important to your application. However, contrary to common belief that in order to be admitted into Dental School you must possess a "high" GPA, this is certainly not the case in most schools. While a "competitive" GPA is essential, when applying to Dental School, or
any professional school, it is your overall package that is looked at,
not solely your GPA. The admissions committee want to see a well
rounded and balanced individual. You must demonstrate that you possess
the skill-set fit to be a dental practitioner. To this end, your
overall package, which includes your DAT scores, GPA, volunteer work
or community service, recommendation letters, dental experience, and
leadership skills, will be looked at and scaled when assessing your application. Each of the aforementioned tenets will in some ways complement each other. Hence, it is important to understand that your application must be competitive, possessing a balanced repertoire of most, if not all of the areas listed above. Understand that I am in no way saying that you can receive acceptance into dental school with a 2.5 GPA, although the chances of this happening are slim to none; in the end, the admissions committee doesn't care how smart you are but if you reflect a personality that befits the definition of someone that can succeed in dental school, vis a vis your personal statement, recommendation letters, dental experience, community service, grade point average and moderate to competitive DAT scores, an interview letter will surely be coming in the mail from a school of your interest.
Again, do not place your eggs in one basket. At minimum, a 3.0 grade point average with a competitive balance in the other areas mentioned, will suffice at least in getting you an interview.

To discuss the information in this post, please visit the forums.

DAT Study Tips

It's an important time for you now. Over the next couple of weeks, or months, strategically planning and organizing your schedule in anticipation of  your upcoming DAT examination is of paramount importance. Whether you decide on enrolling in a test prep course like Kaplan, Dr. Romano's (author of the DAT Destroyer) tutoring courses, or any other tutoring services,or, simply by studying on your own with several sources of test prep materials, it is imperative that you are consistent with your study habits. Of course, everyone's study habits and learning processes are different, so what works for your friend or others may not necessarily work for you.

1. Gather test prep/study materials - Do your research and find out which materials help most in properly preparing students for the test. I have compiled a few which have proven time and time again to be very helpful. You can find them here in my post last week.

2. Make a Study Schedule - It is important to keep a schedule as it enforces discipline. It is very easy to become side tracked by your everyday activities, especially if your test is months away. If two hours are dedicated everyday for DAT prep, assuming you're studying on your own, make sure and stay with that schedule, for, not only will it help over time with familiarity of material, but, it will aid you in developing a mastery of different components of the test.

3. Take a Diagnostic Test. Any material you chose to study from should come equipped with practice tests. If you had to do the DAT today, what score would you receive? This test helps to answer that question. It will give you an idea of where you are and hence gives you an idea of what you need to work on to get where you need to be.

4. Take about the first week to re-familiarize yourself with the materials. Read through the different subject sections of your test prep material and get an idea of the information you will need to know and retain for the test.

5. Study by sections - This is only my suggestion. Study each part of the exam one at a time, for example, study the Biology section first, test yourself periodically on this section and then once you're finished, move on to studying General Chemistry, and so on. I find that it is easier to study by sections. This minimizes confusion and helps you to study in a more organized fashion.

6. Continuously test yourself as you go along by taking subject tests - Ensure that you have mastered the areas you've been studying.

7. Pull information from different resources if a certain topic/ area is difficult to grasp. If you come across material in a text with which you are studying that is not quite clear, do not be afraid to use another text or source, or even the web to supplement this material. Maybe you will find a different author providing a simpler explanation to the concept that you were having difficulty with. Get a wide and general understanding of the concepts that you are attempting to master.

8. Ask questions! The Stu-DENT Network Forums is a good place to ask questions of individuals who are also studying or who have already taken the test. Usually, someone will be able to provide you with an answer that in some instances may provide more insight than the given texts that you're reading..

9. Take full practice tests once you feel comfortable with all the material and subject areas.

10. DO NOT take the DAT until you are absolutely sure that you are ready.

Click here for a compilation of different Study materials 
Want FREE DAT study Materials? Click here  
Need clarification on anything? Click here to visit the forums

The Nuts & Bolts: DAT Study Prep. and Materials

There's a lot of study and test preparation materials out there that's designed to help you do well on the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). However, It can get really frustrating trying to find the right materials and resources  that adequately covers all that you need to know in order for you to perform well on the test. This becomes difficult because there's  a plethora of different resources, and they are constantly being updated to best match the actual exam.
Study and test prep materials may not only be books padded with information that may be tedious to go through, but, other mediums such as actual courses, flash cards, computer software with practice exams are available as well, and can be considerably easier to go through.
From the experiences of others I've spoken with,  as well as my own, a simple comparison of the different resources can be made. Depending on your study habits, you can choose either to enroll in a test prep course such as Kaplan's or Dr. Romano's ( In Staten Island, NYC), or study on your own by pooling different resources together. Having pursued a combination of all of the above, coupled with consulting with others that did also, I can shed some light on what I perceive as advantages and disadvantages of each.


There are different books that have been proven time and time again to be very helpful to DAT takers. One such book is the Kaplan DAT. The Kaplan DAT text is one of the more common books of choice by many pre-dent students. This book is complete with review notes, which is a concise compilation of the necessary information needed to know for the test. In addition, it also comes with two full practice tests at the end of the book, coupled with a CD-ROM,  which has two more comprehensive examinations. Kaplan has over the years, been the choice for many test takers not only in dentistry, but, other areas such as law and medicine, to name a few. However, while the Kaplan  DAT text may be one of the more common choice for many pre-dent students, its strength lies in areas such as General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Reading Comprehension. However, for a more rigorous coverage of Biology, Quantitative Reasoning and Perceptual Ability  that mirrors the challenges of the DAT, other resources may be needed.

DAT Destroyer
The DAT Destroyer is a book compiled by Dr. Jim Romano which comprises of multiple questions that basically poses as practice once you have adequately reviewed your notes (whether your own from school or that of other materials). The DAT Destroyer has proven to give many students the edge they needed to score well on the test, as seen in the appreciation letters section of his website.  It comprises of challenging questions which allows the reader to gain a deep rooted knowledge of each subject matter. Generally, it is updated to contain  information that adequately matches the challenge of the actual DAT. Its strength lies in Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning. However, one will have to look to other resources to cover Perceptual Ability and Reading Comprehension.

Advanced Placement (AP) Materials
Amazingly enough, high school AP books have also proven to be very helpful in studying for the DAT, especially in covering the broad, general areas of Biology. Books such as Cliff's AP Biology, Barron's AP Biology and Princeton Reviews AP Biology have been widely used and acts as good reference books. It is advisable to have one close by as part of one's arsenal of study material.

Test Prep. Courses 

Enrolling in a test prep course will help those who are less organized or those who just aren't sure what they need to study for this exam. The courses are beneficial as it has a set plan and schedule and will keep you on point with your studies. Kaplan has different options for those preparing for the DAT. Such options are a classroom course, an online course, and private tutoring. The classroom course has two parts, an in-class section much like that of  an undergraduate course, and a computer based section. The in-class section offers an atmosphere where students and instructor can interact, share ideas and ask questions. It comes with several books: Review Notes, which is a concise book of notes on the different topics covered on the DATs, a Lesson book, which comes equipped with different questions on each topic covered in the Review Notes, and Flash cards, which can be used on the go to "brush up" on concepts studied; On the other hand, the computer based section offers lots and lots of practice exams (subject tests and full tests) which is designed to be used in conjunction with the in-class section to match your performance along the way. At a time and place of your choosing, you can log on and take different examinations in order to measure your improvements. Kaplan's classroom course keeps you on point with your DAT studies because of  a deluge of resources. However, this is more self-help, where you are guided by someone, in most cases, who was extremely successful in the DAT examination. Needless to say, even though it's a classroom course, the onus is on you to do all the studying on your own. Unlike an undergraduate classroom where instructors come in and lecture on fundamental concepts, the classroom component of Kaplan's course acts as forum where you can bounce questions and solicit ideas from your classmates or the instructor. The price for such a course is quite comparable to most professional school test prep. It will run you at least $1,400 USD plus the cost of transportation to and from the Kaplan center.
Kaplan's online course is quite similar to its in-class course. This includes everything stated above minus the in-class component. This option offers you the same materials and resources without having to travel to a Kaplan center to attend classes. It will also cost you $150 less as it runs at $1250 USD. If you are not very organized, need one on one help, would prefer not to be bogged down in a classroom setting, and can afford it, Kaplan also offers private tutoring. This will cost you  $2400 for 15 hrs, $3500 for 25 hrs, $4600 for 35 hrs, etc.

Dr. Romano
Dr. Romano, for those who are not familiar with the name, is the author of the popular test prep book The DAT Destroyer. Not only does he offer a great resource that has brought about many successes, but he also offers classroom courses similar to that of Kaplan's. His organic way of delivering and organizing the material in his study sessions have led to many success stories, despite not having all of the fancy amenities, (such as  computer based tests), as his competitors. The only drawback to some is that he is located in Staten Island, New York. Nevertheless, that did not stop people that I know personally, who've traveled from all over the country to be a part of his classes. His class runs at $75 per session. Each session is 3hrs long.

Computer Software

The Crack DAT PAT software is specifically designed to help you with the Perceptual Ability section of the DAT. Depending on what package you order, you will get a number of different practice tests for each section of the PAT. This is very helpful in getting you prepared for the PAT section of the test as it closely resembles those of the actual test.

DAT Achiever
The DAT Achiever is a software that comprises of many practice tests which can be used to gauge yourself for the real tests. Though I have not extensively used this software, many people have, and they've had great successes with it. From my review, the questions are challenging and it will help you to gain a deeper understanding of each subject areas.

Topscore is another software much like the DAT Achiever. Again, I have no experience with the software but have been told it is more challenging than the DAT Achiever and often times more challenging than the actual test. However, from what I've been told, it is very good practice full of supplementary material. Some individuals that used it felt comfortable enough with the material, which they found very reassuring.

Remember, the key to performing well on any examination is to give yourself adequate time when preparing. Attempting to prepare two weeks before such an important examination can prove to be an exercise in futility. You must be fully cognizant of its format. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you tend to feel about the examination, which can reflect in you performing well. It is advisable that you do not attempt to cram the material. Some of the concepts are from your undergraduate experience. The main difference may be the structure of the questions which will require some sophistry and critical thinking. Linda Elder and Richard Paul - Critical Thinking Reading and Writing Test is a good supplementary guide that can help to augment your critical thinking, reading and test taking skills.

All in all, whichever method you choose to study, there are some materials that have proven over the years to be great help in preparing students for the DAT. Such materials include, but is not limited to:

To find a list of the above materials go here.
To discuss the materials here go to the DAT Discussion tab of the Stu-DENT Network Forums
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