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I need advice on becoming a dental hygienist to then becoming a general dentist

I’m currently in my final year of highschool and I don’t have a lot of money for 8yrs of schooling to be a dentist so I wanted to start off as being a dental hygienist so I would be able to afford going to school and become a general dentist. I been needing advice because I don’t really have anyone to go to for advice please help dentistry dental-hygienist dentistry dental-hygienist dentist dental general

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Mary Jane’s Answer


Here are some resources that can help you:

Dental hygiene programs are often 2 years at a community college, and while that can be quite affordable, remember that most students in dental programs do not pay for their dental school tuition without loans. The vast majority of students do not have the money to pay cash for a dental school degree, so they use financial aid and loans to cover their costs while they are in school and then their salaries upon becoming a dentist are high enough to pay back the loans over the course of their careers. If you start with a dental hygiene program, you are looking at 2 years of tuition for that program, followed by 4 years of undergrad and four years of dental school. While the dental hygiene option would give you hands-on experience and some opportunity to make and save money, it could add a lot of time to your trajectory. None of the classes you take in that program would count toward your Bachelors or dental degree so it won't save you any time in terms of schooling. If you are OK with all of that, then definitely move forward with your plan!

I'm not trying to be discouraging, but in my experience, students who get certifications in health-related areas and then try to work a lot while they are in college to cover all their costs without loans often have poorer grades because they don't have time to focus on school. Grades on your prerequisite science classes will have the biggest impact on whether you get accepted to dental school, so it's very important that you not over-extend yourself working at the expense of doing well in college classes. You should be willing to pull back on work, or only work during breaks and summer, if you find your grades slipping in college--shoot for mostly As and Bs.

Please know that most students get assistance with tuition in the form of financial aid so most people do not pay the full "sticker price" for college tuition. Some colleges discount 50% or more by way of scholarships and grants that don't need to be paid back. Talk to some admissions people at your in-state school and your nearest community college but don't discount small private colleges. In the current climate, many schools are aggressively recruiting students and are giving large amounts of financial aid, which can make a private school as cheap or cheaper than in-state tuition at your large state university. Loans can be scary, especially if you don't know whether you'll have a high paying career to fall back on, but it's important to balance work with grades so you don't end up with a debt-free degree and a GPA so low you can't move forward in your career. Good luck!

Mary Jane recommends the following next steps:

Talk to some local dentists about shadowing or informational interviews and discuss your concerns about costs, how they manage loans. Shadowing may be limited until the pandemic improves.

Thank you so much !! I need this advice for awhile I really really appreciate it. Can please stay in contact in case I have more questions? Zamira D.

Absolutely! When you get to a 4-year college or university, they will likely have a pre-dental or pre-health advisor to assist you. Some 2-year colleges do as well. If your school does not, you can use the "Find an Advisor Tool" at the NAAHP: The Go Dental site also has excellent videos and articles to support you: Mary Jane Shroyer

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RAVI’s Answer

General Dentistry requires an undergrad degree in an appropriate field.
I do not have much background in health industry. However, my younger daughter just graduated with a degree in Biology and going to med school this fall. I have learnt a few things working with her since high school about health sciences.

I think you should be able to go to local community college and get Dental Hygienist certificate and start out that way.
Then continue to enroll and get your undergrad degree - either part time or full time (working full time or part time respectively) and seek advise from the college guidance councilors.

To save money, stay instate and study at public universities until you get undergrad degree.
I see you are in New York and recently the governor announced free tuition for most undergrad programs in state universities. Take full benefit of this program. Talk to your guidance councilor now or go to a state college and discuss with the administration department about this program.
This should help you a lot financially and help setup the foundation for the dental degree.
You can then get loans/financial aid and get your dental degree.
You will have a lot less burden this way.

Best wishes for a future dentist.

thank you so much for your advice I really needed it !! Zamira D.