top dental schools in the us

10 Top Dental Schools in the US in 2023

Graduating from one of the best dental schools in the US opens up a myriad of opportunities for you as a dentist. 

Just like every other medical field, the demand for dentists in the US is ever-increasing. However, to benefit from the high demand, you need excellent medical education as a dentist. 

With over 50 dental schools in the US, choosing the one of the best might be a bit of a challenge for you. That’s why, in this article, we’ve narrowed down the long list of dental schools to the best 10 in the country. 

Apart from the schools, you’ll also get to know your career prospects as a dentist and how much you can earn per year. 

Let’s get started… 

What is dentistry

Dentistry is a branch of medicine centered on the teeth, gums and mouth. A professional in this field is called a dentist.

Dentists are certified healthcare professionals who diagnose, prevent, manage and treat diseases in the oral cavity. A dentist is sometimes also called a dental practitioner or dental surgeon.

This branch of medicine is one of the best to study in health sciences. It is lucrative and not as time-demanding as medicine and surgery. Generally, schools that offer Medicine and surgery offer dentistry.

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Is there a high demand for dentists in the US?

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects an 8.1 percent increase in the demand for dentists between 2020 and 2030. 

With the national average for all occupations being 6 percent, it shows there’s a high demand for dentists in the US. 

Advantages of being a dentist

Dentistry is not just about the teeth. As you go further in your career, you can also do maxillofacial surgery.  Professionals in this field can also lecture in universities and colleges.

Dentistry is both scientific and creative, and most importantly, it is also rewarding. As a dentist, you are more opportune to have a relaxed professional and social life and can balance your personal and professional life to suit your needs.

If you are the type that is interested in being an entrepreneur, this profession enables you to make that dream come true.

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10 Top dental schools in the US 

For a person who wants to pursue a career in dentistry, one of the things that can set your professional life up for success or failure is where you studied. It’s essential to pick an institution with the best educational resources, research facilities, academic reputation, and networking opportunities.

With these qualities in mind, we have compiled a list of the top 10 dental schools in the US.

1. Harvard University 

The Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) is considered a world-renowned dental university. It is also generally referred to as the premier dental institution in the U.S.

The school offers a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) program to its students. It also offers graduate programs that see students graduate with master’s and doctorate degrees in several dental programs. 

The Harvard School of Dental Medicine was the first college-based dental school in the United States. Students at HSDM have access to highly experienced tutors, awesome research centers, and other state-of-the-art dental training facilities. 

In addition, the school provides students with networking opportunities and other exciting extracurricular activities. The college is in Boston, Massachusetts, in the Longwood Medical Area. Visit the school’s website for more information about its programs. 

2.  University of Michigan – Arn Arbor

The University of Michigan School of Dentistry (U-M Dentistry) ranks among the top dental schools in the U.S. It is also considered a prestigious and well-respected dental school.

The school offers several dental medicine programs, with the Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry being its core. Other programs U-M Dentistry offers are dental hygiene and oral health sciences. They also offer dual degree programs that see students graduate with DDS/Ph.D. and DDS/MBA certificates.

U-M Dentistry is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Visit the school’s website for more information. 

3.  University of California – Los Angeles

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Dentistry has a strong reputation as one of the best dental schools in the US. 

The college is famous for its cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art facilities for dental education. 

UCLA School of Dentistry offers pre-dental programs, doctor of medicine in dentistry and other graduate programs in dentistry. They also offer dental programs specifically for international students. 

You can visit the school’s website for more information about its programs. 

4. University of California, San Francisco

The University of California, San Francisco is one of the oldest university-based dental schools in the country. It has earned the most funding for research from the National Institutes of Health in the US over the past 25 years.

UCSF offers a DDS program, plus dual degree programs like DDS/MBA and DDS/PhD for its dental students. They also offer programs for international students, plus several specialty options for residency.  

The school’s dental center has more than 120,000 dental patients annually, allowing students to gain real-life experience. UCSF has a strong academic presence, and its dentistry school rates the highest in research opportunities.

Visit the school’s website to learn more about its programs.

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5. University of Pennsylvania

The College of Dental Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania ranks among the top dental schools in the US.

The school is well known for its cutting edge research in dental medicine. It has a research center on new dental materials and their different applications. 

Penn Dental Medicine has different degree options such as bioethics, education, law, public health, and business administration for DMD students.

Dental care and services are provided in its primary care unit to almost 22,000 patients a year. Students have clinical opportunities through the outreach programs created for the community.

You can get more information on the school’s website.

6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Adams School of Dentistry has strong recognition as one of the top dental schools in the US.

The school follows the Advocate-Clinician-Thinker (ACT) premise. Students studying dentistry in the school receive instructions on how to be innovative and provide solutions for their patients. 

Excellent patient care is the utmost priority at UNC Chapel Hill’s Adams School of Dentistry. The school offers dental hygiene programs, a doctor of dental medicine program, and other postgraduate studies. 

The students have access to clinical experience through 50 rotation sites in North Carolina and two free student-led free clinics. These clinics provide dental and oral health care to more than 90,000 patients per year.

More information is available at the school’s website

7. University of Washington

The University of Washington’s college of dentistry ranks 7th on the list of top dental schools. The college provides dentistry students with an avenue to gain experience through a

  • mobile geriatric clinic
  • specialty clinic for persons with disabilities
  • specialty clinic for people with psychological conditions and significant dental fears

Furthermore, the Seattle Children’s Hospital, Harborview Medical Center, and the School of Dentistry’s clinics provide opportunities for students to gain experience. Visit the school website to learn about the dental programs at the University of Washington. 

8. The State University of New York at Buffalo

The University of Buffalo College of Dental Medicine (UBDM) ranks among the top dental schools in the US. It has a comprehensive study program for dental students, using research and clinical practice.

The school offers a general Doctor of Dental Medicine program and a more specific program for international students. They also offer masters and doctorate programs in other dental disciplines. 

You can visit the school website for more information. 

9. New York University

The New York University dental school is a highly reputable school of dentistry in the US. The school, which is located in New York City, is known as the largest dental school in the United States. The percentage of US dentists that earned their degree at New York University is almost 10%, as the school’s college of dentistry graduates about 400 DDS students per annum.

The school trains its students by providing clinical experience through diverse sets of medical facilities. You can get more information by visiting the school website

10. Columbia University

The University of Columbia ranks as one of the best dental schools in the US for obvious reasons. It provides world-class education, cutting edge research, and extensive clinical practice to its students. 

The school offers a DDS program, an advanced program for foreign trained dentists, and postdoctoral and residency programs. 

Columbia College of Dental Medicine provides dental education in an interactive environment where students and faculty members work closely together on research work to gain experience. You can visit the school website for more information. 

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Can a dentist be called a doctor?

Yes, a dentist is also a doctor. Just like a medical doctor can diagnose, treat, and take care of the human body, a dentist is also tasked with diagnosing, treating, and taking care of the oral cavity. They also go through the same training as a medical doctor, but they focus mainly on the oral cavity, while a medical doctor gets trained to take care of the human body.

After university graduation, a dental student receives a medical degree called a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree or a Doctor of Dental Surgery. A dentist can be called a doctor because they have earned that status. 

What major do I need to study dentistry?

According to the American Dental Education Association, most dental schools accept students with majors in biology, chemistry, engineering, and math. They also accept students with majors in music, humanities, art history, and even sports administration. 

How long do I need to study to be a dentist?

It takes eight years post secondary education to become a dentist. After spending four years in a bachelor’s program, you’ll need to study dentistry for another four years in a medical school. 

However, there are fast-tracked programs that allow you to complete both a bachelor’s degree and a doctor of dental medicine in about six years. 

How much does a dentist earn in the US? 

According to Salary.com, the average salary of a dentist in the US is $177,158 per year. However, the range falls between $154,376 and $204,543. 

What states pay the highest for dentists in the US?

According to Money.USNews.com, the highest paying states for dentists in the US are Rhode Island, Vermont, Alaska, Maine, and New Hampshire. Here are their annual salary averages: 

StateAnnual Average Salary
Rhode Island$258,920
Vermont$254,190
Alaska$242,850
Maine$236,060
New Hampshire$222,430

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How do I become a dentist in the US?

Here are the necessary steps to take to become a dentist in the US: 

Earn a bachelor’s degree

After high school, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in dental sciences or hygiene, biology, chemistry, or any science discipline. 

Though most dental schools accept students from any discipline, they have a preference for students from science and math related disciplines. 

Earn a DMD or a DDS degree

After your bachelor’s degree, you need to earn a doctor of dental medicine (DMD) or a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) degree from a reputable dental school. 

Obtain your dental license 

To obtain your license, you must write and pass the assessment examination from the American Board of Dental Examiners (ADEX). 

This exam consists of assessments in both written and clinical examinations. 

Consider a residency 

Your DDS or DMD license is enough for you to practice as a dentist. However, if you need to specialize more in a particular aspect of dentistry, then you need to complete a two or three years residency program. 

Are there specialties in dentistry? 

Here are key specialties you might want to consider:

  • Endodontics
  • Orthodontics
  • Periodontics 
  • Prosthodontics 
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery 
  • Oral and maxillofacial radiology 
  • Dentist anesthesiology 
  • Oral and maxillofacial pathology 
  • Pediatric dentist or Pedodontics
  • Orofacial pain
  • Oral medicine
  • Dental public health 

Qualities to consider when picking a dental school

Choosing the best school to study at is not the only recipe for success for students. Qualities such as school fees and geographical location are all relevant and need proper consideration when picking a dental school.

At first glance, it might not seem important, but it has dire consequences if ignored—the following need proper consideration when choosing a dental school.

1.  School fees: 

Compare the school fees and pick the one that works for you. Understand your financial situation before choosing a school, not just the school fee, the cost of living and other expenses you will incur.  Dental school is an expensive endeavor. You should be fully prepared and aware of what you are doing. 

2. Number of students in a class

If you are the type that prefers a smaller population, you need to take note of this when picking a dental school. NYU might have a class of 400 while Harvard has a population of 40 students.

3. School location: 

Do you want to study in an urban area? Do you want to stay local? You need to consider your school’s location while picking a dental school. Picking an environment where you’ll be most comfortable will help your study to be seamless

Conclusion on the top dental medicine schools in the US

Dentistry is an interesting and rewarding career. The opportunities to earn a good living with your knowledge of dentistry are many. You can decide to practice privately or work with a hospital or the government. You can also decide to go full time into dental research or maybe become a teacher, teaching the next generation of dentists. 

Hopefully, this article has answered all the questions you might have about dental medicine schools in the US. 

Frequently Asked Questions about dental schools in the US

How hard is dental school?

Dental school is hard, just like other medical disciplines. However, with the right dedication and desire, you’ll scale through.  

What’s the highest paid dental specialty?

The highest paying dental specialty is oral and maxillofacial surgery. Dentists in this specialty earn as much as $400,000 per year.  

What city pays the most for dentists in the US? 

Dover, New Hampshire, with an average annual salary of $286,540, is the highest paying city for dentists in the US. 

What’s a good GPA for dental school?

Most dental schools require a GPA of 3.5 or above. However, there are schools that accept GPAs of less than that. Something in the range of 3.0 and 3.5. 

Do I need an MCAT for dental school?

Though dental schools accept the MCAT (Medical College Assessment Test), the Dental Admission Test (DAT) is more acceptable for admission into a dental school. 

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