Before applying to dental school, you must determine whether it is the right career choice for you, what the educational and training requirements are and what opportunities a dental degree can offer you beyond the scope of general practice.
Dentistry is an artistic as well as scientific profession. Dentists must have an artist's aesthetic sense, an eye for detail and the manual dexterity to perform precise procedures in a small area. Dentists must also be good communicators who can interact well with a diverse group of people. It's important to recognize whether you have any of the above skills before considering a career in dentistry.
If possible, talk to the career or guidance counselors at your school about preparatory courses you may need to take before applying to dental school. Talk to your dentist and other dental health professionals and spend time in their offices. This will give you an opportunity to see what life as a dentist is really like and whether this career choice is right for you. Most of these professionals will be excited to help you learn about career opportunities.
There are certain basic pre-dental education courses (maths and sciences) that must be completed before enrolment in dental school. However, advanced biology and physics are typically not required. Since these requirements vary from school to school, it is essential that you contact the appropriate school(s) to determine specific admission requirements.
One simple way to obtain this information is to visit dental school Web sites to obtain a list of course requirements. Access a list of Canadian dental schools.
You should know that one admission requirement for all Canadian dental schools are the submission of Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) scores. The DAT is administered by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) to evaluate general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, two- and three-dimensional visual perception and manual dexterity. Learn more about the DAT.
While all Canadian dental schools require applicants to submit DAT scores as part of the admission process, the test results are only one factor considered in evaluating the admission potential of an applicant.
It's important to note that registration for the DAT is not an application to dental school. To complete an application for entry to a dental school, contact the school(s) of your choice directly and return the completed application according to the instructions given by the school(s) you are applying to.
Financial and Time Commitment
Attending dental school is a huge financial and time commitment. You will spend a minimum of 4-5 years at dental school so it is important to ensure the school you choose to attend is the right school for you. Most universities offer virtual tours of campuses on their websites. Take the time to learn everything you can about campus life. If possible, visit the campuses of the dental schools you wish to attend.
Tuition fees across Canada continue to rise and you will most likely need to obtain student loans to finish your degree. Learn what the tuition fees are for the dental schools you want to apply to. Research what financial support options are available to you, either through personal savings, scholarship and bursaries or through federal and provincial student loans.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) Web site offers information and resources about the financial assistance options available to Canadians wishing to obtain post-secondary education in Canada.
Canada Student Loan Program:
Provincial and Territorial Student Assistance Offices: