Teeth are important. They are one of the first things people see when they meet you, and a beautiful smile can be very inviting. In fact, it takes us only 100 milliseconds to decide whether the person in front of us is trustworthy. And teeth are a big part of that, since smiling is such a powerful social clue.
However, if your smile is hideous, you will start off with the wrong foot. Bad breath, crooked teeth, and yellowing are all major turn-offs, and they can make you look unprofessional and untrustworthy. That’s why taking care of your teeth is important.
But what if you’re not born with perfect teeth? Or what if you have an accident and your smile is damaged? That’s where dental schools come in. Dental schools are institutions that train dentists, and they are essential for keeping our smiles looking good. Dentists are crucial allies in fighting the degrading of our mouths.
In this article, you are going to learn what are the best dental schools in California. These are the institutions that will train the next generation of dentists and help us keep our teeth healthy and our smiles looking great.
The Path to Becoming a Dentist
Becoming a dentist is not an easy feat. It requires years of dedication and hard work. But it’s also a very rewarding profession, both financially and emotionally.
If you want to become a dentist, you first have to get a bachelor’s degree. You can major in anything you want, but most dental schools recommend that you major in science or a related field. This is because you must have completed a course in biology or chemistry or similar topics to get into a DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) program.
After you get your bachelor’s degree, you have to take the Dental Admission Test, or the DAT (Dental Admission Test). This is a standardized test that measures your ability to succeed in dental school. The test covers topics such as reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, and perceptual ability.
Once you pass the DAT, you can apply to dental schools. And this is where things get tricky. Because there are so many dental schools out there, and they are all different. They have different admissions requirements, curriculum, facilities, and faculty. So how do you choose the right one?
That’s what we’re here to help you with.
The 6 Best Dental Schools in California
To make this list, we looked at a variety of factors, such as:
- The admissions requirements
- The curriculum
- The facilities
- The faculty
We also considered the location of the school and the cost of tuition. We looked at both public and private dental schools. And last, we considered the reputation of the school.
We have compiled a list of the best dental schools in California, based on all of these factors.
Here are the 6 best dental schools in California:
1. University of California-San Francisco
If you want to become a dentist, the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) is a great place to start. UCSF has a world-renowned dental school, and it is one of the best public dental schools in the country.
The admissions requirements are very rigorous, but if you are accepted, you will be getting a top-notch education. The curriculum is comprehensive, and the faculty is composed of some of the most renowned dental professionals in the world.
The facilities are also top-notch, and they include clinics, laboratories, and research centers. UCSF also has a hospital on campus, which gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience.
The only downside of UCSF is its location. It is located in San Francisco, which is a very expensive city to live in. The tuition is also quite high, especially for out-of-state students. A year at UCSF will cost you $53,000 if you’re a resident, and $65,000 if you’re a nonresident student.
That being said, UCSF is still one of the best dental schools in California, and it is definitely worth considering if you want to become a dentist – if you can afford it.
2. University of Southern California
The University of Southern California (USC) is another great option for aspiring dentists. USC has a well-respected dental school, and it is located in Los Angeles, the City of Angels, which is a major city with plenty of opportunities.
USC’s admissions requirements are not as rigorous as UCSF’s, but they are still competitive. The curriculum is also very good, and the faculty is composed of experienced professionals.
The facilities at USC are also excellent, and they include state-of-the-art clinics and laboratories. USC also has a hospital on campus, which gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience.
The dental program at USC was the 2nd most expensive in 2017-2018, and, frankly, it is almost prohibitive for everyone. The 1st year at USC’s dental school costs almost $129,000, and it drops in the following years, but it only drops below the $100k mark for the 4th year.
So, USC is an excellent dental school, but it is only for those who can afford it.
3. University of the Pacific
The University of the Pacific (UOP) is a great option for aspiring dentists. UOP has a well-respected dental school located in Stockton, California.
UOP’s biggest strength is its faculty. The dental school has over 50 full-time faculty members, and they are all experienced professionals. The curriculum is also very good, and the facilities are state-of-the-art.
Competition is stiff at UOP. The school boasts a 9% acceptance rate, with an overall graduation of 72%.
Unfortunately, it comes with the same downside as just about every other dental school in California (and the U.S.). Tuition costs almost $90k per year.
4. Loma Linda University
Loma Linda University (LLU) is a great option for aspiring dentists. LLU has a well-respected dental school, and it is located in Loma Linda, California. The city is located in the Inland Empire region of Southern California, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
Loma Linda University’s admissions requirements are not as rigorous as UCSF’s or USC’s, but they are still competitive. Academically speaking, you are getting top-quality education. The faculty is home to some of the most experienced professionals, and the facilities are excellent.
You’ll leave with deep theoretical and practical knowledge of the dentistry field. You’ll easily find a job, or why not, even be able to start your own studio after graduating here.
The only thing that might hold you back is the cost. A year of tuition will set you back $77,000. Again, this is the unfortunate reality we live in. Every good dentistry school in the U.S. is super expensive.
5. Stanford University
Did you think we’d forget about one of the most prestigious colleges in the United States?
Stanford University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and its dental school is no different. The admissions requirements are very rigorous, and only the best of the best get in.
What can you expect by studying at Stanford? A great curriculum that will turn you into a master dentist. Lots of hands-on experience. Bleeding edge facilities that will leave you in awe.
Of course, there is a catch. You’ll have to be super rich to afford it. The cost of living in Palo Alto, where Stanford University is located, is absurdly high. A one-bedroom apartment will set you back $3000 per month.
Ivy League schools have a reputation for being expensive, and Stanford is no different. But the tuition is in line with most other Stanford courses, which paradoxically means you’ll pay less than with most other dental schools on this list.
One year of tuition at Stanford will set you back $63,747. Naturally, this is still extremely high, but it’s ironically one of the cheapest schools on this list.
Unfortunately, if you factor in costs of living, studying at Stanford becomes very expensive real fast.
6. Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine
Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine (WUHS) is a great option for aspiring dentists. WUHS has a well-respected dental school, and it is located in Pomona, California.
WUHS offers a 4-years DMD program that is fully accredited by the ADA. Additionally, it offers an international DMD program called Doctor of Dental Medicine – International (DMD-IDP).
As a student in this program, you will benefit from a cutting-edge education that is based on today’s best practices in health-care education. You’ll use facilities with sophisticated educational and clinical technology within an institution dedicated to providing student-focused, interprofessional healthcare education.
As a testament to the university’s quality of teaching, the graduation rate is 98.6%, which is great. It means students are followed closely, and they get the support they need to succeed.
Editor’s note: WUHS the most selective dentistry school in the country. The acceptance rate is only 2.1%, so only the absolute top students get in.
Tuition here will cost you a little less than $80k per year. This means you’ll pay almost $320k for your education. And this without including living expenses. It is very expensive, so make sure to budget accordingly.
Why Become a Dentist?
Let’s face it, being a dentist isn’t fun at all. You are constantly looking into other people’s mouths, and you have to deal with a lot of blood and saliva. It’s a dirty job, and it can be very stressful. Yes, you get to help people, but you also have to deal with a lot of difficult patients.
So, why become a dentist?
The answer is simple: money. Well, some people will say they genuinely enjoy dentistry, which is okay. But money is a very interesting incentive to become a dentist. Dentistry is a very lucrative profession. In fact, it’s one of the highest-paying jobs in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dentists had a median pay of $163,220 in 2023, which amounts to a whopping $78.47 per hour.
The job growth for 2020-2030 is expected to be around 8%, which is average. You can expect the market for dentistry to keep growing as it currently is. In fact, there is an argument to be made that the estimate is conservative. Our teeth’s health has been dropping considerably with the rise of modern diets full of sugar and processed foods, and this is only going to get worse.
The Cons of Becoming a Dentist
The most obvious con of becoming a dentist is that it’s a very dirty job. You will be looking inside other people’s mouths, which are very messy places. Even a perfectly healthy mouth is full of saliva and bacteria. And if you’re not careful, you can easily catch an infection.
Another con is that it’s a very stressful job. You have to deal with a lot of difficult patients, and sometimes you will have to work on very delicate procedures. If something goes wrong, it could have serious consequences for the patient.
And if you work as a dentist for kids, this problem amplifies. Kids are very active, and they will often try to run away or move around while you’re working on them. This can be very dangerous, as they could easily injure themselves.
Last, dental schools are expensive, but the return on investment is definitely there. Expect to pay well over $150,000 for schooling, even at the cheapest universities. If you’re an out-of-state student, you can expect to pay even more. And if you go to a private school, the cost could be upwards of $250,000.
But despite all of these cons, becoming a dentist is still a very good choice for many people. If you’re looking for a stable and high-paying career, dentistry is definitely worth considering.
California is home to some seriously amazing dentistry schools. If mouths are your thing, then you’ll definitely want to check out one of these fine institutions. Becoming a dentist is expensive and takes lots of hard work, but it will repay you many times over in the form of a high salary and job security.
However, before enrolling, a word of warning. Due to how gross mouths can be, the job is not for everyone. If you’re someone who’s squeamish or faint of heart, then you might want to consider another profession.
But if you think you can handle it, then becoming a dentist could be one of the best decisions of your life. Provided you can afford it without putting yourself in debt for the rest of your life. The American financial system could trap you if you’re not careful.