An oral surgeon has to know how to diagnose and treat oral defects and injuries that affect the soft tissue region of the mouth and jaw. Before gaining specific training in oral surgery, however, individuals must complete a pre-dentistry bachelor's degree program, which typically covers aspects of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology. Students in these programs take labs as well as attend classroom lectures. The overall goal of a bachelor's degree program in pre-dentistry is to help students meet the admissions standards set forth by most dental schools. Common prerequisites include an interest and ability in math, biology, and chemistry; strong SAT or ACT scores.
Pre-Dentistry Bachelor's Degree
Students should have a strong interest and good grades in the areas of biology, mathematics, and chemistry before they elect to enroll in a pre-dentistry bachelor's degree program. Accredited universities also take strong ACT or SAT scores in these subjects into account. In addition to the core science curriculum, students in an undergraduate pre-dentistry program are required to take general education courses, including history, math, and social sciences. A dental school may suggest students take courses in sculpture or drawing to demonstrate a student's manual dexterity, an important skill for dentists. Classes may include:
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a pre-dentistry program may apply to dental school, but admission is very competitive. Therefore, students should consider alternate career options when selecting their electives. They may seek careers in the following areas:
- Other healthcare occupations
Graduates of a pre-dentistry program generally go on to dental school. For admission, they must pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and have an undergraduate grade point average of 2.7 or better.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of physicians and surgeons, including oral surgeons, will see a 4% increase from 2019-2029 (www.bls.gov). The expansion of the healthcare industry and the aging of the population are some reasons for this growth. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons earned a mean annual salary of $234,990 in May 2020, according to the BLS.
Aspiring oral surgeons are required to study towards a pre-dentistry bachelor's degree program. Graduates then often embark on career paths as a teacher or researcher, among others.