Dental School Costs
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts dental jobs to grow by 6% through 2031 (compared to 2021), which is as fast as the average for all other occupations. This may be due to the rising accessibility of health care information, plus an aging population of Baby Boomers is increasing demand for better care. Whether you’re interested in becoming an orthodontist, prosthodontist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, or general dentist, there will still be plenty of job security once you complete schooling and licensing.
Pursuing dental school is a costly endeavor, but with smart planning, you can pay back your loans sooner rather than later. We’re here to help you consider all the costs associated with dental school, preparing you for the many years of schooling ahead.
Use our guide below to explore the costs of dental school and what to expect.
Dental School Requirements
Most dental school programs require a four-year bachelor’s degree prior to admittance. Popular undergrad majors for dental students include chemistry, biology, and physics, but no specific major is required. To be accepted to a dental program, you must first take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The DAT involves four tests covering the natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning.
Once you’re accepted, you will begin a four-year program to complete a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. During the first and second years of dental school, students take classroom and lab courses in health sciences like anatomy, biochemistry, histology, microbiology, pharmacology, and physiology. They will also study the basic principles of oral diagnosis and treatment. Third- and fourth-year students will begin to treat patients under licensed dentist supervision. This is when you’ll get a chance to explore community clinics, hospitals, and outpatient clinics. During these years, practice management courses also teach effective communication and business management to round out your education. (ADA)
To become a practicing dentist, students must earn a license. This requires graduation from a dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, plus passing a written and practical exam in your state.
Private and Public Dental School Tuition
The cost of dental school will vary depending on where you study. Tuition is different across institutions, and the price of books, food, housing, and supplies are just as variable. Here is a breakdown of average costs by institution type:
AVERAGE PRIVATE SCHOOL COSTS
$78,581 Tuition & Fees
AVERAGE PUBLIC SCHOOL COSTS
In state Resident
$41,927 Tuition & Fees
According to the ADA and a survey by the Health Policy Institute, in 2021-2022, the average resident first-year cost of public dental school programs was $41,927while the cost of private dental school programs was $78,581.
Total Cost of Dental School
Over four years, a dental student can expect to pay anywhere from $210,625 (public school) to $353,008 (private school) and up. If you’re going right from undergrad to dental school, tacking on these costs probably sounds daunting. But according to BLS, the median salary of a dentist is $163,220, and the top earners make more than $208,000 per year. There are also many options for paying for dental school. Specialized loans, grants, scholarships, and affordable programs can make payment easier and automatic.
Going to dental school is a four-year commitment that will reap benefits for the rest of your life. With the right tools and research, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions that improve your future and build the foundation for a rewarding career.