Dental School: Year Four

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A pre-dental student on her dentistry work experience placement in Tanzania You have made it to the homestretch. You may find it hard to believe, three years of dental school went so quickly, or you may feel you have been in dental school forever. Either way, you are almost done. But before you celebrate, you still have one more year to get through.

By your fourth year of dental school, you probably know the ropes and are looking forward to graduation. But it is critical to stay on track and meet all graduation requirements. You will not spend too much time in lectures. You may still have a few classes, but most of your time will be spent in the student dental clinic continuing to get hands on experience.

Before you can graduate, there is a list of procedures you are required to perform. Procedures may include root canals, bridges, dentures, biopsies and crowns. The specific number of procedures may vary, but you will likely have to do several of each.

By your fourth year in dental school, you are probably more confident than when you started school, but you may still not be quick to get through procedures. Make sure you know far in advance what procedures you still need to meet graduation requirements. You don’t want to find yourself in a position of being in a time crunch and having to rush through things.

Keep in mind, you are still a student and in learning mode. Confidence is good, but thinking you know everything will get you into trouble. Ask questions when you need to, and take advice from your professors.

In your senior year, you also have to prepare to take the second part of your national boards. The national boards involve passing a two-day written test on a variety of topics including oral pathology, radiology, pediatric dentistry, oral surgery, pain control and other dentistry topics. There is a lot to cover. During your fourth year, take time out of your schedule to prepare for the exam.

Students in their Gap Medics scrubs In addition to the second part of the national boards, you also have to pass your clinical board examination. In order to become licensed as a dentist, you need to graduate from a dental program, pass your boards and the clinical licensing exam.

During your clinical exam, you will be evaluated while performing a variety of procedures on either plastic teeth or real patients. The exam is held over two days and helps evaluators determine if you are competent enough to practice as a dentist.

Your senior year also means it is decision time. After graduation, some dentists choose to apply for a dental residency. A dental residency is a time for additional training. There are various residencies of different lengths depending on the type of dentistry you want to practice. For example, a one-year general dentistry residency is an option for those who feel they want a little more experience before joining a practice. Additional, longer residences in periodontics, orthodontics, endodontics and pediatric dentistry are also an option for dentists who want to specialize.

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