How To Become A Dentist (With Multiple Career Options)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 January 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career in dentistry is a highly valued and respected profession. Besides paying well, becoming a dentist gives you the immense satisfaction of treating and improving patients' oral health. Knowing more about their role, skills and salary can help you determine if you want to become a dentist. In this article, we will share a step-by-step guide on how to become a dentist, discuss the eligibility criteria for dental courses and highlight the different career paths you can pursue once you earn your dental degree.

How To Become A Dentist

A career in dentistry begins with a bachelor's degree. Have a look at some of the crucial steps to become a qualified dentist:

1. Complete 10+2 with biology, physics and chemistry

Dental schools require candidates to complete senior secondary (10+2) from a recognised education board. Knowledge of biology, physics and chemistry can students prepare for the advanced courses at dental school. Therefore, choosing science subjects and discipline is important during 10+2.

2. Clear the NEET-UG admission test

Before applying to dental schools, candidates have to qualify for the NEET-UG (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Undergraduate) exam. Dentistry is one of the most sought-after courses among medical aspirants and the competition for it is immense. The cut-off marks are usually very high and to secure a seat in their preferred dental college, students require high-grade points in the NEET exam.

3. Earn a UG dental degree

The duration of the undergraduate dental programme is five years. The professional medical course has four years of academic study and one year of rotational internship. The UG programme includes courses on dental hygiene, oral pathology, periodontics, orthodontics, pharmacology and radiology. The final year is a hands-on internship where students gain clinical practice by diagnosing and treating patients under the supervision of their dental professors.

4. Set up your dental practice

Once you complete an undergraduate degree in dentistry, you can set up your clinic after obtaining the necessary licenses and permits. Dentists registered with any state dental council can practice anywhere in the country. Alternatively, you can also apply for a job as a dentist in a private or government hospital. Draft a well-written resume showcasing your skills and talents to get a well-paying job in a reputed hospital.

5. Consider a specialisation

While most dentists start practising immediately after their UG, you can choose to specialise in a specific field of advanced dentistry. You can pursue a postgraduate course after qualifying for NEET-PG. Becoming a specialist entails three years of additional study after your UG. Alternatively, you can also join a short-term certificate or diploma course to update your skills and gain mastery in specific fields of dentistry.

Related: 10 Resume Writing Tips To Help You Land a Job

Eligibility Criteria To Join Dental Courses

The DCI (Dental Council of India) regulates dental education and oversees admissions to dental courses at various universities and colleges across the country. Here are the general eligibility criteria for the standard dental programmes:

Eligibility criteria for BDS

Candidates who complete senior secondary (10+2) with biology, physics and chemistry from a recognised board with an aggregate of 50% marks are eligible for BDS. Besides the 10+2 marks, dental colleges require candidates to qualify for the NEET-UG with the specified cut-off marks. Universities and colleges admit students via a counselling session based on the candidate's marks.

Eligibility criteria for MDS

Candidates who complete the bachelor's degree in dental surgery (BDS) from a dental college recognised by the DCI can apply for MDS. Besides scoring high marks in BDS, clearing the NEET-PG exam with the required cut-off is essential to pursue MDS. Additionally, the DCI requires all candidates to complete a minimum of one-year compulsory internship before joining the MDS program.

Eligibility criteria for diploma and certificate courses in dentistry

Besides the undergraduate and postgraduate courses in dentistry, various universities and colleges also offer short-term diploma and certificate courses to candidates. These courses specialise in specific dentistry skills and help dentists advance their careers by gaining additional skills and practice in the various branches of dentistry. To join an undergraduate level diploma or certificate programme, students require a 10+2 qualification with biology as the main subject. For postgraduate level diploma or certificate programs, students require a bachelor's degree in dentistry.

Types Of Dentistry Specialisations

After completing your undergraduate degree, you can pursue several specialisations depending on your skills and interests. Some of the popular dentistry specialisations include:

  • General dentists: General dentists are primary dental care providers and are responsible for the patient's overall oral health. They perform various services like non-metal fillings, crowns, bridges, gum care, scaling and cleaning the teeth and gums.

  • Oral surgeons: Oral surgeons perform dental surgeries to correct the facial deformities of patients. They also perform complicated extractions and amend abnormal growth in the gums and jaws. They also treat tumours, cysts and other growth in the mouth and jaws of patients.

  • Periodontists: Periodontists are specialised dentists who diagnose and treat diseases in the jaws, gums and the supporting tissues surrounding the teeth. They also perform cosmetic surgeries to correct the alignment of teeth, jaws and gums.

  • Endodontists: Endodontists are highly trained dental specialists focussing on treating complex tooth problems that affect the tooth pulp. They are experts in root canals and concentrate on relieving your toothache while trying to save the natural tooth as much as possible.

  • Orthodontists: Orthodontists correct irregularities in teeth alignment by fixing dental devices like braces and retainers in the mouth of patients. They specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of 'bad bites' of the teeth due to crowded, missing or excess teeth.

  • Paediatric dentists: Also known as pedodontists, they treat the dental problems of infants and children till adolescence. Besides training in dentistry, paediatric dentists also train in child psychology that helps them better communicate with their young patients.

  • Prosthodontists: Prosthodontists specialise in fixing artificial teeth like dentures, crowns and caps as permanent replacements for missing teeth. Some prosthodontists also specialise in replacing missing parts of the jaw and face with artificial substitutes.

  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeons: Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform dental surgeries in the jaw, mouth and facial areas. They are specialists who offer facial reconstructive surgeries and implant dentistry for patients who have experienced facial injuries.

Related: What Is a Dental Hygienist? A Complete Career Guide

Career Options For Dentists

Dentistry offers multiple career options. Besides private practice, candidates can also choose other rewarding dentist job opportunities like teaching, research and a career in government hospitals or dental corporations. Here are some of the top career options for dentists:

  • Private practice: Most dentists set up a private clinic either independently or in partnership with other dentists. Before setting up a new dental clinic, consider various factors like location, the neighbourhood's economic potential and the necessary license and permit to practice in the area.

  • Hospital dentistry: Private and public hospitals have dental departments that treat outpatients. You can also join a hospital as an in-house dentist and provide treatment to patients.

  • Academic dentistry: As an academic dentist, you get the opportunity to work in a dental college or university, teaching and training dental graduates. A career in academic dentistry combines research, education, patient care and community service.

  • Public health dentistry: This career involves creating dental policies for the overall community rather than practising dentistry skills. In this role, you work with other health professionals to develop dental health policies and promote awareness of oral health among the general public.

  • Research: A career in research dentistry gives you the opportunity to work on cutting-edge technology developing new dental products that impact patient care. Large dental corporations recruit skilled dentists to head their research departments and you may require additional training for such roles.

Average Salary Of A Dentist

The average salary of a dentist at the beginning of their career ranges around ₹20,203 per month. You can expect a significant increase in pay as you gain experience and get more patients after a few years of practice. The income also rises as the dentist gains further specialisations and advanced skills. Successful and well-established dentists can earn a six-figure monthly salary, depending on the size of the practice and location.

Related: How Much Does a Dentist Make? (Career, Trends and Salary)

Advantages Of A Career In Dentistry

One of the most significant benefits of choosing a career in dentistry is that it is a highly stable job with handsome pay. Dentists are always in high demand as the importance of oral health and hygiene continues to rise among the general public. Compared to other medical professionals, dentists have more flexible work timings as they can schedule appointments for patients at their convenience.

Salary figures show data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing the article. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.


  • What Are Dentist Skills? (With Examples And Tips To Improve)

  • 25 Dental School Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

  • How To Earn A Dentistry Degree: A Step-By-Step Guide

  • 18 Commonly Used Dental Tools (With Tips On Maintenance)

  • 7 Types Of Dentists (With Salaries And Requirements)

  • How To Become A Dental Technician (With Responsibilities)

  • How To Write A Dental Resume Objective In 3 Easy Steps

  • How To Write An Objective For A Dental Assistant Resume

  • Writing An Orthodontist Resume (With Template And Example)

Explore more articles