- Take the pre-requisite courses in college (check the websites of dental schools for specifics). These are usually just science classes, although some schools require a writing course. It's nothing beyond what a science major would take in college.
- Take the DAT (Dental Admission Test) http://www.ada.org/dat.aspx. There are Kaplan Courses to help you study.
- Apply to a dental school. They should have information on their website about the forms you need to fill out. Here is a list of schools: http://www.ada.org/267.aspx
- Interview well
- Almost all dental schools are 4 years (University of the Pacific is 3 years, but you have less time off)
- Graduating dental school makes you a dentist and allows you to do most everything specialists can do under state law if you want.
- Become a dentist by completing dental school (Good marks will help)
- During dental school you will take two Board Exams, do well on them.
- Some Orthodontic programs require you take the GRE, so take it just in case.
- Apply to Orthodontic programs and interview well. Many of the orthodontic residencies participate in a standardized application process called MATCH.
- Orthodontic Residency is 2-3 years long depending on where you go. Most places do not pay you during your residency.
Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon
- The application process is roughly the same as orthodontics
- Some programs offer an MD (and are longer), so you may need to take the USMLE before you residency.
- OMFS residencies pay you and are 4-6 years long
Periodontist, Endodontist, Prosthodontist and other Specialties
- Roughly the same application process
- These residencies are about 2 years long, and some residencies pay.
If you want to specialize, it is easiest to submit the applications during dental school (you need to get a lot of materials together). Orthodontics and Oral Surgery are arguably the most competitive, so if those interest you study hard.