Dentist Education

Your Georgia Dental Association dentist has chosen dentistry as a career to make a positive difference in patients’ health and well-being. Dentists typically complete an undergraduate college degree in a science field, or in a field with the addition of predental science requirements, before applying to dental school. These predental requirements include biology, physics, general chemistry, and organic chemistry.

Individuals who apply to a dental school must first take a Dental Admissions Test (DAT). This computerized test measures general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. Completion of at least one year of college level courses in biology and general and organic chemistry is recommended before taking the DAT.

There are more than 60 dental schools in the United States accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Typically, a United States dental education program takes four years to complete once an individual is admitted. Doctors may choose to train for additional years to complete a dental specialty education.

Many GDA member dentists have graduated from Georgia’s only dental school at Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta. If you would like more information about applying to GHSU, visit www.georgiahealth.edu. Consumers are also encouraged to visit the dental education page at www.mouthhealthy.org (the ADA consumer resource web site) to find out more about dentistry as a career.

You may be curious about the degrees that dentists earn. A dentist can graduate from dental school with a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. Because of standardized regulation of U.S. dental schools, there is no difference in the educational qualifications of a dentist with a DDS degree and one with a DMD degree. The degrees are now primarily reflective of a given school’s history.

Dental Specialties

The majority of the 164,000 dentists practicing today in the United States are general practitioners—family dentists. About 20 percent are dental specialists who limit their practices to one of nine American Dental Association recognized specialties. A dental specialist is a professional who has completed an undergraduate college degree, completed four years of dental school, and pursued additional training in a dental specialty field.

The nine recognized dental specialties are: Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics and Prosthodontics. Please follow this link to obtain a PDF document that describes the various dental specialties.

Many consumers incorrectly assumed that cosmetic dentistry and implant dentistry are recognized specialties. In fact, most disciplines in dentistry provide cosmetic and implant procedures. Your general dentist is your primary dental provider and is trained to provide preventive, restorative and cosmetic dental services. Some of these treatment services include cleanings, fillings, implants, whitening, extractions, veneers, crowns, bridges, dentures, and root canals for patients of all ages. Talk to your GDA dentist about all of your treatment options.

GDA Benefits

Dentists, more than 3,300 professionals, choose to join their professional association for numerous reasons. American Dental Association and Georgia Dental Association publications keep dentists up to date on the latest regulatory and scientific advancements. Association advocacy efforts keep track of proposed laws that may be harmful to patients, or the doctor-patient relationship, and convince lawmakers to act in a positive way to protect patients. Association staff members help dental offices and patients with difficult questions about insurance and other third party issues. Doctors who join the association make a commitment to uphold and adhere to the American Dental Association’s Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct, and uphold the standards of their profession. Make sure to ask your doctor if they are an ADA and GDA member dentist! Many members proudly display their membership plaque or sticker in their waiting rooms.

Dentist Testimonials

“All of us in the dental profession in Georgia are fortunate to have wonderful and talented leaders who help guide this profession and protect our patients … We are blessed with such a great group of people looking out for our best interest now, as in the past. There is much to know besides practicing dentistry, and there is much to learn. I look forward to more opportunities to increase my knowledge within the GDA organization itself.” Dr. Ron Cavola, Conyers.

Find a Dentist Search

The GDA invites you to search for a GDA member dentist in your area by using the search form on this web site. There are hundreds of family dentists and specialists eager to talk to you about your dental needs, and work with you to find the treatment that will provide you, and your family members, with optimal oral health.