How long does it take to become a dentist?

Depending on what type of dentistry is to be performed, on average, it takes dentists six to eight years to complete the training and education to become a dentist who is licensed to practice medicine. Dentists generally attend college for four years before being accepted into dental school, but some may complete their bachelor's degree while in dental school. As students, dentists are required to work in supervised clinical settings for two or more years before they are allowed to work on patients alone.

For dentists who desire to go into specialized areas of dentistry, such as cosmetic or reconstructive dentistry or dental research, an additional two to five years of education can be required. Most often, dentists work in their own private practices or part of a larger dental group and then head back to school for these in-depth courses and research studies. For a new high school graduate considering becoming a dentist, the time to actually start working as a dentist is from six to eight years away.