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Educational Pathway

After completing an Associates of Arts and Science Degree with a major in Science Specialization: Pre-Medical, you will continue your pre-dental study by transferring to a four year school. Most dental schools prefer candidates to have a bachelor’s degree before entering dental school.

You can declare a major in any subject at the four year school to obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree which will require an additional two years. Your chosen major does not determine your success in being accepted to a dental school.

After being accepted to dental school it will typically take a total of four years to be awarded a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.D.M). Early in your academic career you will need to research some of the dental schools you are interested in attending in order to insure you will meet all their criteria for admission. Some basic factors are:

  • Good undergraduate grades (overall GPA of 3.0 minimum)
  • Test scores (DAT®)
  • True interest in profession as demonstrated by shadowing or volunteering in the field and this is very important
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Strong reference letters from professionals who know your character, as well as, your work ethic

What is the DAT®?

It is Dental School Admission Test. It is a standardized test taken by students who are applying to dental schools. It will be similar to the ACT® or SAT®. It is a broad assessment of your critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning skills — all skills developed over the course of many years, which includes your two years at SWCC. It consists of four tests: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning

Important qualities for dentists

As in other health-related occupations, empathy, understanding and the desire to help others are good qualities for dealing effectively with patients. Decision-making skills, desire to learn, empathy, and interpersonal skills are also needed. Dentists must have fine motor dexterity and an eye for detail work. Patience is another quality needed to deal with patients anxious about dental care. The student must like learning math and science.

Is dentistry for you?

The student should shadow dentists and ask questions about the profession. Dentists diagnose and treat diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth and mouth. Dentists educate patients on how to care for their teeth and prevent oral diseases. Over 80% of dental graduates are general practitioners with 20% specializing in one of the nine recognized specialties in dentistry.

Dental Schools

There are 65 dental schools in the United States. You can review them at the following site


Local Dentist and Adjunct Faculty Member began education with Southwest

Dr. Erik Roberts received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the VCU School of Dentistry. Dr. Roberts received his A.A.&S. in Science from Southwest. He then transferred to Virginia Tech, where he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology. After establishing his dental practice locally, he joined the SWCC faculty, and currently teaches online laboratory courses in human anatomy & physiology and microbiology.

Dr. Roberts is with Richlands Family Dentistry. “Serving the dental needs of my home community has always been my goal, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to finally do so. I look forward to remaining a part of the SWCC family and continuing to foster the development of online learning.”

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