What Does a Dentist Do?

Doctors who examine, diagnose and treat oral health issues are called dentists. Just like other doctors, dentists also have various specializations. For instance, they may specialize to be an Orthodontist or a Prosthodontist. They may also choose not to specialize and work as general dentists.
The specific duties of a dentist coincide with their area of specialization. However, a few duties performed by all dentists include:

  • Checkup of teeth and gums.
  • Removal or repair of damaged teeth.
  • Prescription of medicines.
  • Measurement of teeth and gums to make models for dental appliances etc.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Dentist in Houston, TX

Becoming a dentist may take almost 8 to 10 years. The entire process is described in detail below:

    1. Completing an Undergraduate Degree (4-years)

To begin your career as a dentist, completion of a 4-year bachelor’s degree is a must. It is important that your degree include courses in biology, chemistry and other sciences. These courses allow the development of fundamental concepts that help you during your doctoral degree in dentistry (DDS/DMD).

    1. Passing the Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

Without clearing the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), you will not be able to enroll in a doctoral degree i.e., a DDS or a DMD at a dental school.

    1. Attending a Dental School (4-years)

The next step for dental school candidates is to enroll in a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or in a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. Both of these degrees take at least 4 years to complete. The first 2 years require students to take a combination of lectures and lab courses. However, the students must gain clinical experience in the next 2 years of their DDS/DMD degree.

    1. Attending a Dental School (4-years)

Acquiring State Issued License

Each state in the U.S. has its own requirements for licensure. However, it is mandatory for all dentists to take and pass the National Board of Dental Examinations (NBDE) to apply for a license.


Requirements to Become a Licensed Dentist in Houston, TX

Dentists who want to work in the state of Texas must apply for licensure with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. There are 4 ways to become a licensed dentist and the requirements of these licenses are explained below:

    1. Dentist License – By Exam
  • Be at least 21 years old.
  • Graduate of DDS or DMD degree accredited by CODA/ADA.
  • Passed Part I & II of the NBDE exams.
  • Passed the clinical examination conducted by a regional examining board within last 5 years.


    1. Dentist License – By Credentials
  • Be at least 21 years old.
  • Graduate of DDS or DMD degree accredited by CODA/ADA.
  • Already licensed as a dentist in another state of the U.S.
  • Passed a dentistry clinical examination conducted by a regional examining board.
  • Has practiced dentistry for at least 3 out of 5 years immediately prior to applying for licensure.


  • 5 years practice as a dental educator at a CODA-accredited dental school prior to applying for licensure.
  • Passed both NBDE exams.
  • Have no disciplinary action on their record.


    1. Dentist License – Foreign-Educated Graduates

Apart from the requirements described in “Dentist License-By Examination,” foreign educated dentists must fulfill the following requirements.

  • Trained in an ADA-approved specialization in a CODA-accredited education program with at least 2 years of training.


    1. Dentist License – Faculty
  • Possess a DDS/DMD degree from a CODA/AMA accredited dental school.
  • Hold a salaried faculty position at a CODA/AMA accredited dental school.
  • Has the employer’s endorsement on the application form.


How Much Can I Make as a Dentist in Houston, TX?

According to the data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2018, general Dentists in the state of Texas earned an annual mean salary of $185,680. Furthermore, the data on BLS website shows that the state of Texas has been ranked as the 3rd state with highest employment level for this profession in 2018.

Job Outlook for Doctors in Houston, TX?

An employment growth of 7% has been predicted by the BLS for general Dentists in the U.S. from 2018 to 2028. This growth rate is faster than the average for other occupations making it a career worth pursuing.

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