Dentistry is a precise, challenging field that improves the health and appearance of the teeth and mouth. Dentists are also important advocates of computer and technology research. Becoming a dentist generally requires at least four years of postgraduate education at an accredited dental school. A foundation in biology and chemistry is required, but math courses are also beneficial to a dentist's career. Requirements vary by program and type of admission exam but generally include calculus and statistics.
Depending on math placement upon undergraduate admission, college algebra will often be a student's first math course. The course is an introduction to algebraic functions, equalities and inequalities, and is a minimum requirement for dental schools. The American Dental Association specifically notes that algebraic concepts including exponential notation, absolute value and ratios and proportions appear on the Dental Admission Test. Although most schools require more advanced coursework, college algebra is almost always a prerequisite.
Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry
Before taking calculus, students must have a thorough foundation in functions and trigonometry. Many of the questions on the DAT will cover concepts taught up through pre-calculus, such as trigonometry, real and complex numbers, sequences and series, and solving inequalities and equations. Depending on the student's high school math performance, he may be able to test out of pre-calculus and move directly into calculus. Additionally, students who are placed into calculus but still require some more review may choose to take a semester of pre-calculus.
Calculus, the study of change, is strongly recommended for students applying to dental school. Making precise measurements based on constantly changing data is important in dental work. Dartmouth College states that two terms of mathematics are required at only 20 percent of schools in the United States, but recommended by most schools. The Health Professions program at Dartmouth recommends that these two terms be calculus and statistics. In addition, many dental students take courses in physics, which often require a course in calculus.
Statistics is strongly recommended for students applying to dental school. Some schools may take Medical College Admission Test scores in addition to DAT scores, and in 2015 the MCAT will include a significant statistical information. Additionally, more and more dental schools are requiring statistics courses for admission. The basic statistical concepts, including the manipulation and collection of observational data, are helpful for advanced science coursework that involves experimentation. In addition, the ADA states that probability and statistics will be on the DAT.
- ADA: DAT 2013 Program Guide
- Dartmouth College: Required Courses for Medical, Dental, or Veterinary Schools
- ADEA: Official Guide to Dental Schools
- College of Charleston: Mathematics Courses
- College of Charleston: Mathematics Department Recommendations
- Boston University: Requirements for DMD
- University of Connecticut: Course Requirements
- UCLA: Dental School Requirements
- Johns Hopkins University: Dentistry
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