What To Do In High School To Become A Dentist Or Hygienist

What To Do In High School To Become A Dentist Or Hygienist

 Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
What To Do In High School To Become A Dentist Or Hygienist

If you’re still in high school and thinking about becoming a dentist or dental hygienist, there are some things you can start doing TODAY to prepare for your future career.

No matter how long you have until you graduate high school, here are three easy steps to put you on the path to dental or dental hygiene school.

1) Shadow A Dentist Or Dental Hygienist

“Shadowing” is the term we use to follow and watch someone in their day-to-day work routine. Anyone planning to go to dental or dental hygiene school is highly encouraged to shadow in a dental office before applying. It might even be required!

As a high school student, shadowing a dentist or dental hygienist can easily help you figure out whether or not you actually like the job as much as you thought you would. When you see what is going on behind the scenes and what each person does, it can be truly eye-opening. You might even find that you thought you wanted to be a dentist, but wind up wanting to be a dental hygienist instead, or vice versa.

Try to shadow at least a few different dentists or dental hygienists in separate practices. Everyone does things differently, so the overall atmosphere, specialty, or clinic may be completely on another wavelength than what you saw in the other practice.

When you’re looking to shadow a dentist, start off by asking the office you already visit as a patient. Or maybe somewhere where you know a person who works there. Call and let them know that you’re still in high school but you’re super interested in becoming a dentist or hygienist, and ask if you can come in and shadow on a day you’re out of school.

Aside from getting an in-depth view of dentistry, there’s another perk of shadowing. One day when you apply to dental school, you’ll need reference letters from people who are already in the field. If you’ve been shadowing the same dentist every summer and they know what your work ethic is like, they will likely be more than happy to write you a recommendation letter. The same goes for shadowing a dental hygienist.

2) Talk To Your School Counselor

Your high school guidance counselor will have information on the classes you need for the various dental or dental hygiene programs in your area. They can then line you up to take the best classes in high school to prepare for a career in dentistry.

Some of the most important classes to take are your sciences. Such as microbiology, physiology, chemistry, and physics. If you’re good in science, then you’re in luck. But even if science courses are a challenge, you can work hard in high school to prepare yourself for the next level of study once you get into college. If you’re driven and a hard worker, you can make it happen.

Who knows, your high school might even offer dual credit classes so that you can knock out some of your dental and dental hygiene school prerequisite requirements before you graduate. On that note, be sure to go ahead and check out which courses are required by the specific schools you’re considering. Each one has slightly different criteria that you’ll need to meet. Some programs may require one or two extra classes.

3) Remember That Dentistry Is A Business

Do you want to own your own practice one day? A lot of dentists do. Some states even allow dental hygienists to own their own practice. But one of the things you won’t learn a lot about in dental or hygiene school is business management. So, consider taking business classes or even joining a business club to learn more about what it takes to run and manage a productive team while earning a profit. You’ll need it!

Start Early, Plan Ahead

If you want to be a dentist or hygienist, the most important thing to do is to shadow someone who already is. The more you can shadow, the better. Second, take as many science classes as possible to help you prepare for college. If you can take dual credit courses or ones where you test for credit, that’s even better. Check out the schools you might want to apply to and make a list of their requirements. And finally, feel free to take some business courses to help you be more comfortable in your future endeavors!

Also watch:

▶FULL WORKDAY (DENTAL HYGIENIST): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgrTFMR3b64

▶DAY IN THE LIFE (DENTAL ASSISTANT): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd0vC3beboo

▶DAY IN THE LIFE (DENTIST): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4htt3_zeGLQ&t=91s

▶Hygienists VS Assistants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV82iKjTuls&t=75s

▶Hygienists VS Dentists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBL5T1Q3HTc

 Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Last updated onNovember 28, 2023Here is our process

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