Which Dental Schools Are in Tennessee?

Find out which Tennessee schools offer dental degree programs. See requirements, prerequisites and school information, and learn about the job prospects for a dental career in Tennessee. Schools offering Dental Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

There are several doctoral and post-doctoral dental programs available at colleges and universities in Tennessee. Aspiring dentists can apply to two Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) programs - one public school and one private school option. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with sufficient prerequisite science coursework. An interview, minimum GPA, sufficient Dental School Admissions Test scores and letters of recommendation are also required. Classroom, lab and hands-on learning are required in this 4-year program. Your clinical training will rotate through several areas of dental practice. You may be required to purchase your own dental tools and supplies.

Dentists can pursue advanced study through one of more than six areas of specialty through post-doctoral programs at the same two schools that offer DDS programs. These are master's degree and residency programs in fields like pediatric dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, periodontology and general dentistry. Admission requirements typically include a degree from an accredited dental school, National Dental Board exam scores, transcripts, an interview and a minimum GPA; some programs require that you already have your dental license.

These programs are highly competitive, accepting as few as one student every year. Program lengths vary, but take at least a year. You may qualify for board certification exams upon completion of some programs. You may participate in seminars, research, and rotations that include direct patient care. Students in these programs often earn stipends or salaries, although this benefit does not always extend through all program years. Keep reading to see if one of these programs might be right for you.


Dental Degree Programs in Tennessee

Meharry Medical College, School of Dentistry

  • Program Name: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree
  • Program Length: 4 years (full-time)
  • Tuition: Freshman $53,964, sophomore $58,537, junior $49,076, senior $44,896 (2011-2012 year includes mandatory fees)
  • Prerequisites: Graduation from an accredited college or university in the U.S. or Canada; 2 full years in an institution recognized by the American Dental Association; courses in biology, botany or zoology, general or inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, general physics (with laboratory), English composition
  • Requirements: Application through the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) plus a supplemental application, 3 letters of recommendation, Dental School Admissions Test (DAT), tuberculin testing, documentation of immunity to infectious diseases
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; about 780 students (all graduate); approximately 55-60 students accepted to dental college yearly
  • Address: 1005 Dr. D.B. Todd Jr. Blvd., Nashville, TN, 37208-3599
  • Phone: (615) 327-6207

This dental college offers a comprehensive dental program aimed at training students from traditionally underrepresented minority groups and making care available to underserved populations. You spend most of the first two years of the program in the classroom and the lab. Years three and four are spent learning comprehensive care techniques; under the supervision of the faculty, you're responsible for a patient's dental care in the way you would be after graduation. You also complete rotations to gain exposure to and skills in various dental specialties. Examples of rotation sites include public-health facilities and hospitals. Meharry also offers several scholarship programs to students.

University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), College of Dentistry

  • Program Name: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree
  • Program Length: 4 years (full-time)
  • Tuition: Tennessee residents: $27,153; non-residents: $60,561 (2011-2012 year, includes mandatory fees).
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree or higher (possible to get exception if requested), satisfactory completion of histology, microbiology or comparative anatomy (one of the three), general biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry and physics (non-biology science courses with lab), English composition. Minimal grade-point average of 2.75 in required courses and in cumulative average
  • Requirements: Application through the AADSAS, admitted students are also asked to submit a supplemental application; U.S. citizenship or permanent residency; personal interview; Dental School Admissions Test (DAT). Upon acceptance, a criminal background check, a laptop computer with an optical drive, immunization records, and tuberculin skin testing (given by school) are also required.
  • School Type: 4-year, public; about 320 students in dental college
  • Address: 875 Union Avenue, S-102 Dunn Building, Memphis, TN, 38163
  • Phone: (901) 448-1625

This dental school is part of the UTHSC state school system, which means higher tuition rates if you're not a Tennessee resident. In addition, all students must invest in required instruments and supplies, which add up to roughly $10,000 the first year, $8,000 the second year and $4,000 the third year. With a focus on oral disease prevention and oral health maintenance, your first two years emphasize biomedical sciences, such as anatomy, biochemistry and pathology, as well as some pre-clinical technical topics. The second two years focus on clinical studies. The College of Dentistry offers several programs for educational support of students, one of which is the learning skills laboratory that works with students on developing skills and provides tutorial development and academic counseling.


Dental Post-Doctoral Programs in Tennessee

Meharry Medical College, School of Dentistry

  • Program Name: Advanced Education in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Program Length: 4 years (full-time)
  • Tuition: None
  • Prerequisites: Graduation from an accredited dental school
  • Requirements: Official transcript from dental school; copy of scores from Part II of the National Board of Dental Examiners exam; 3 letters of recommendation, including one from the dean; personal interview. State licensure must be obtained before the third year of the program.
  • School Type: 4-year private not-for-profit; about 780 students total (all graduate); one student accepted into the Oral and Maxillofacial program every year
  • Address: 1005 Dr. D.B. Todd Jr. Blvd., Nashville, TN, 37208-3599
  • Phone: (615) 327-3152

This is a residency program for dental school graduates who want to become oral and maxillofacial surgeons. In line with Meharry's overall mission, the program aims to increase the number of maxillofacial surgeons from underrepresented minority groups and provide service to underserved communities. The program includes lectures and conferences; courses cover internal medicine, general surgery and anesthesia in addition to specific maxillofacial surgery topics. As in the medical field, residents don't pay tuition, but are paid a salary. Your competency is judged by the work you do in the clinic and on call; instructor evaluations are also a factor. Successful completion of the program qualifies you to sit for the board exam in oral maxillofacial surgery.

  • Program Name: Postdoctoral Study in General Dentistry
  • Program Length: 1 year (full-time)
  • Tuition: None
  • Prerequisites: Graduation from an accredited dental school
  • Requirements: Application through the Postdoctoral Dental Matching Program; passing Part I and II of the National Boards; dental school transcript; a recent passport-size photo; 3 letters of recommendation, including one from the dean of your dental school; personal interview
  • School Type: Private not-for-profit; about 780 students total (all graduate); eight residents accepted into the postdoctoral program each year
  • Address: 1005 Dr. D.B. Todd Jr. Blvd., Nashville, TN, 37208-3599
  • Phone: (615) 963-3152

This program is for dental graduates who want additional in-depth training in all fields of dentistry. The program includes month-long rotations in anesthesia, implant dentistry, internal medicine and oral surgery, but the oral surgery experience continues throughout the year. You take overnight calls with the oral and maxillofacial surgery residents and work in the operating room as a surgical assistant alongside oral surgeons and the residents. Work may include suturing, taking biopsies and doing extractions. You also participate in seminars and present patients to dental school faculty. Your educational experience includes providing services to patients, and you're paid a salary. A dental license isn't required for this program.

University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), College of Dentistry

  • Program Name: Graduate Program in Pediatric Dentistry
  • Program Length: 2 years for the certificate program, 1 additional year for the Master of Science Degree (MDS) program
  • Tuition: None
  • Prerequisites: Graduation from an accredited dental school; application through the Postdoctoral Application Support Service (PASS) with your National Matching Service number included in the application; grade point average of at least 3.0; top third of your graduating class and an 85 or higher on Part I of the National Board Dental exam (if entering the program directly out of dental school)
  • Requirements: U.S. citizenship; personal interview (if selected); curriculum vitae; passport-size photo; official undergraduate and dental school transcripts; National Board scores may be requested later in the application process
  • School Type: Public, all graduate; about 320 in dental college; six trainees accepted into the pediatric program every year
  • Address: 875 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38163
  • Phone: (901) 448-6206

The Pediatric Dentistry program is affiliated with the University of Tennessee and is hospital based. The program's goal is training dental school graduates who want to specialize in dentistry for children and qualify for the specialty board exam in pediatric dentistry. The first two years of study result in a certificate; if you add the optional third year of study, you can earn a master's degree from the UT College of Graduate Health Sciences. In addition to broad-based study in dental topics applied to pediatrics, you also rotate through anesthesia, pediatric medicine and the emergency room and work on a research paper. If you choose to complete the master's program, you'll spend the third year working on original research and your thesis; topics of study include oral embryology, histology and biology. Be aware that while there is a stipend available for the first 2 years of the program, there is no stipend given for the third year.

  • Program Name: Advanced Program in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Tuition: None
  • Prerequisites: Currently in or graduated from an ADA-accredited dental school
  • Requirements: Passing scores on Parts I and II of the National Dental Boards; application through the Match program; passport sized photograph; most recent Test of English as Foreign Language test scores, if applicable
  • School Type: Public, all graduate; about 320 in dental college; two residents admitted to the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery program yearly
  • Address: 875 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38163
  • Phone: (901) 448-6234

This program can prepare you for certification through the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. In addition to classes in oral and maxillofacial surgery every year and anesthesia in the first two years, you explore internal medicine (first year) and general surgery and research (second year). The third year includes elective surgery rotations, and your fourth year is all oral and maxillofacial surgery while you serve as chief resident, which includes administrative duties. During the program, you also become certified in advanced pediatric, cardiac and trauma life support. Salaries for dental residents in this program vary by postgraduate level.

  • Program Name: Master of Dental Science in Periodontology
  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Tuition: None
  • Prerequisites: Graduation from an accredited dental school; at least a 3.0 GPA; ranked in the upper third of your class
  • Requirements: Application through the Postdoctoral Application Support Service
  • School Type: Public, all graduate; about 320 in dental college; two students selected each year for the MDS in Periodontology program
  • Address: 875 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38163
  • Phone: (901) 448-6201

The periodontics residency program at UTHSC is taught jointly with the Memphis Veterans Administration Hospital. You earn a certificate from UTHSC and an MDS degree from the UT College of Graduate Health Sciences, you're eligible to sit for specialty board exams in periodontology. In this program, you treat patients and take courses related to practicing periodontics. You attend courses and seminars on anatomy, oral pathology, immunology and microbiology. You also present cases, study implant therapy and complete rotations in general anesthesia and internal medicine. All students in the program are paid a stipend; the amount is dependent on your postdoctorate level of training and the availability of funds.

  • Program Name: Master of Dental Science in Prosthodontics
  • Program Length: 3 years (full time)
  • Tuition: None
  • Prerequisites: Graduation from an accredited medical school (preferably U.S. or Canadian, but persons trained outside of North America may be considered); official transcripts from college and dental school; at least a 3.0 GPA; rank in the upper half of your class
  • Requirements: Test scores from Parts I and II of the National Boards; application through the PASS system; two letters of reference, including one from the school dean; three Personal Potential Index evaluation reports; interview onsite at the College of Dentistry
  • School Type: Public, all graduate; about 320 in dental college; two students admitted to the prosthodontics program yearly
  • Address: 875 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38163
  • Phone (901) 448-7180

As a resident in the prosthodontics program, you spend about 60% of your time restoring and installing dental implants for patients. You take courses in the basic sciences, biostatistics, research and thesis writing in preparation for your research project; you also participate in seminars and laboratory work. Prosthodontics residents work as teaching assistants for dental students and earn stipends for their work. Residents are required to purchase some of the equipment used to make and install dentures and dental implants. The cost of these items totaled about $3,200 in 2012. Successful candidates earn a master's degree from the College of Graduate Health Sciences and are eligible to sit for the American Board of Prosthodontics exam.

  • Program Name: Master of Dental Sciences, Orthodontics
  • Program Length: 34 months (full-time)
  • Tuition: None
  • Prerequisites: Graduate of a dental school with DDS, DMD or equivalent; 3.0 GPA and in upper 30% of your graduating class
  • Requirements: Application through PASS and Match program; 2x2 photograph; college transcript; scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE); curriculum vitae or resume (when requested); 150-word essay; personal interview, if requested
  • School Type: Public, all graduate; about 320 in dental college; up to four students selected for admission to the orthodontics program yearly
  • Address: 875 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38163
  • Phone: (901) 448-6214

Graduation from the orthodontics program results in an MDS from the College of Graduate Health Sciences and eligibility for the orthodontics specialty board exam. Postgraduate basic science courses focus on growth, development and movement of teeth, as well as the role of computer science in orthodontics. You treat a wide variety of patients in the clinic, from children to adults, including patients who require more extensive treatments and an interdisciplinary approach. During the first year, you begin begin working with a faculty advisor to develop your research project, which culminates in a written thesis. In 2012, orthodontics candidates were also required to spend an estimated $5,000 for equipment and $800 for textbooks.


Licensing Requirements for Dentists in Tennessee

Like all states, Tennessee requires dentists to be licensed before beginning practice. To obtain a dental license in Tennessee, you must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass both the National Board Dental Exam (written test) and either the Southern or Western regional dental exam, which is a practical/clinical test. Other requirements for a Tennessee dental license include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification, a criminal background check, proof of U.S. citizenship and letters of recommendation from licensed dentists.

Once you obtain your license, you need to complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years and keep your CPR certification current in order to renew. You also need a permit to administer sedation for dental procedures, which requires participation in educational programs approved by the Tennessee Department of Health.

Salary and Job Outlook for Dentists

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for general dentists in Tennessee was about $162,000 per year as of 2011. Job growth for dentists nationwide is expected to be faster than average at 21% between 2010 and 2020.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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