Pre-Dentistry Program

The pre-dental program is the course of study for students who plan to enter the dentistry field. PUC has a reputation for its excellent pre-dentistry program and very high acceptance rates to dental school for its graduates.

Fast Facts

  • There were 195,722 dentists working in dentistry (dentists using their dental degree in some fashion) in the US. in 2015.
  • Dentists rank #2 in the 2016 U.S. News and World Report's"The 100 Best Jobs."  Orthodontists rank #1! 
  • Dentists were named No. 5 for their honesty and ethical standards in a 2012 Gallup Poll.
  • Fewer than 85% of dentists now own their own practice (as sole proprietor or partner) and increasing numbers of dentists work in a dental service organization practice or are employees in other types of practices.  For more details, read Garcia, R.I. 2014.  The restructuring of dental practice. JADA 145(10):1008-1010. 
  • In 2014, general dentists saw an average of 65 patients per week.  In 1990, this same group saw about 77 patients per week.  ADA Statistics.
  • A USA Today survey reported that more adults were satisfied with services received from dentists than from any other profession.
  • On average, general practice dentists worked 32 hours per week and specialists 33 hours per week in 2014.  In 1990, general practice dentists worked an average of 35 hours per week.   
  • By the end of 2014, there were approximately 205 million Americans (64% percent of the population) with dental benefits.
  • In 2014, 52.3% of adults reported that they had visited the dentist every six months the last few years, 15.4% reported once per year, and 11.0% reported once every two to three years. More than one in five (21.3%) said that they had not visited the dentist in the last few years.

Careers

As a health-related professional career, dentistry offers a variety of challenging roles to today's practitioners. Each brings the satisfaction of providing preventive and restorative oral health care to a population with ever-changing needs. The arenas of dental practice include the armed services, dental education, hospital practice, private practice, and public health. Advanced training programs are also available in dental anesthesiology, dental public health, endodontics, esthetic dentistry, implant dentistry, oral surgery, oral pathology, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics.

  • The average net income for an independent private practitioner who owned all or part of his or her practice in 2014 was $174.780 for a general practitioner and $322,200 for a specialist (according to the American Dental Association) and, in 2015, an annual median pay of $158,310 (according to the U.S. Department of Labor). 
  • Employment of dentists is projected to grow about much faster than average (18%) for all occupations through 2024. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics "the demand for dental services will increase as the population ages, cosmetic dental services become increasingly popular, and access to health insurance continues to grow."  
  • Job prospects for dentists are expected to be good. There are still areas of the country where patients need dental care but have little access to it. Job prospects will be especially good for dentists who are willing to work in these areas.  In addition, many dentists are expected to retire in the next decade and replacement workers will be needed to fill those positions. 

For current dentistry-related statistics see the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Curriculum

Preparatory Coursework

Natural Science
Biological Foundations with laboratory BIOL 111, 112, 113
General Chemistry with laboratory CHEM 111, 112, 113
Organic Chemistry with laboratory CHEM 371, 372, 373
General Physics or Physics with Calculus with laboratory PHYS 111, 112, 113, or PHYS 131, 132, 133
Biochemistry I and II CHEM 481 and 482 OR Biochemistry I CHEM 481 and Cell and Molecular Biology BIOL 320
Communication
English Composition ENGL 101, 102
Recommended Courses
Into to Accounting (3) ACCT 121
Ceramics (2) ARTF 222
Histology (5) BIOL 426
Introduction to Computers (3) CPTR 105
Nutrition (3) FDNT 235
Intro to Dentistry (2) GNRL 204
Calculus (4) MATH 131
Intro to Management (3) MGMT 261
General Psychology (4) PSYC 121
Religion
4 quarter hours per year of attendance at a church-related college

A minimum of a three-year pre-dentistry curriculum (144 quarter units) in an accredited college is required for acceptance. Students with a baccalaureate degree or on track to complete a degree are given preference.

Typical Schedule

As indicated in the predental course requirements listing, there are four science sequences of one year (Biological Foundations, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and General Physics) and two additional quarters of Biochemistry I and II OR Biochemistry I and Cell and Molecular Biology required. English 101 and 102 are also required for matriculation into the dental school. A sample schedule is shown below. Note that "other" in this case means major requirements, GE requirements, or electives with emphasis in that order. When choosing electives, consult the courses LLU recommends.

In order to take Biochemistry I CHEM 481, Biochemistry II CHEM 482, Cell and Molecular Biology BIOL 320, and certain recommended courses (e.g., Histology BIOL 426), a student must finish the Biological Foundations, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry sequences. This requires doubling up on science classes at least one year. Also, most classes have prerequisites: General Chemistry requires College Algebra (may be concurrently enrolled) or equivalent; Organic Chemistry requires General Chemistry; Biochemistry I and II require Organic Chemistry; Cell and Molecular Biology requires Biological Foundations and Biochemistry; and Histology requires Cell and Molecular Biology. Finishing these required science courses in four years requires that you chart out your class schedule several years in advance.

Finally, some skills (notably math and English) are required for success in any area and therefore should be mastered early on. Generally a student is recommended to take only one major science course the first quarter of their freshman year. For Biology majors, it is best to begin with Biological Foundations.  For other science and non-science majors, General Chemistry is one class that can be started as a freshman and, because it must be taken in sequence starting with first quarter, all students except those without sufficient mathematical preparation or who are majoring in biology are strongly encouraged to enroll in General Chemistry their first quarter. Biological Foundations is unique in that the ordering of the sequence is not important. Therefore, if a student does well taking General Chemistry their first quarter, it is recommended that Biological Foundations be added their second quarter (along with General Chemistry).

In the second year, a Biology major will take General Chemistry while other science and non-science majors will take Organic Chemistry.  Pre-dent students will want to have the core sciences (Biological Foundations, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry) completed by the end of his or her junior year.  This will ensure adequate preparation for the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) that is typically taken in the summer following the junior year.  A student must complete the other science requirements (General Physics, Biochemistry I, Biochemistry II and/or Cell and Molecular Biology) by the end of their senior year.   

Typical Class Schedule - Biology Major

Year Fall Winter Spring
Freshman BIOL 111
MATH 106 (if needed)
ENGL 101
Other
BIOL 112
ENGL 102
Other
BIOL 113
MATH 130
Other
Sophomore CHEM 111
Other
CHEM 112
Other
CHEM 113
Other
Junior CHEM 371
Other
CHEM 372
BIOL 320
Other
CHEM 373
Other
Senior CHEM 481
PHYS 111*
Other
PHYS 112
Other
PHYS 113
Other

Typical Class Schedule - Science and non-Science Majors

Year Fall Winter Spring
Freshman CHEM 111
MATH 106 (if needed)
ENGL 101
Other
CHEM 112
ENGL 102
Other
CHEM 113
MATH 130
Other
Sophomore BIOL 111
CHEM 371
Other
BIOL 112
CHEM 372
Other
CHEM 113
Other
Junior CHEM 481
PHYS 111**
Other
CHEM 482 or BIOL 320
PHYS 112
Other
PHYS 113
Other
Senior Other Other Other

**Physics and Biophysics majors will need to take Physics with Calculus (PHYS 211-212-213) in the first year.

Information & Requirements

Loma Linda University School of Dentistry

Most PUC pre-dental students go on to attend the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. Here you will find information from LLU regarding the School of Dentistry.

Application Timeline

Target Date Process
Spring T-1 Contact teachers/advisors/religious leaders to request recommendation letters: one personal recommendation and one committee letter (the preference of most dental schools) OR four personal recommendations. Contact the Academic Dean's office for a pre-professional recommendation letter request form (x 6234).
June, T-1 Work on the on-line AADSAS application.   Be sure to carefully craft your personal statement and have it reviewed by reliable sources. Apply to take the DAT.
By September 1, T-1 Send in completed AADSAS application with official transcripts including any summer school classes. It is to your advantage to apply as close to the application opening date (June 1) as possible.
By late September T-1 Receive secondary application from the School of Dentistry. Request official transcripts (mailed directly from all colleges) and letters of recommendation be sent.
Early October, T-1 (or before) Return secondary application to School of Dentistry.
November, T-1 Select applicants invited to interview with School of Dentistry representative when they visit PUC.
December, T-1 through March, T Acceptances sent to applicants.
September, T Enter LLU School of Dentistry!
Follow-up: Call the Admissions Office, (800) 422-4558 opt. 3 or (909) 824-4621, and ask about your application. Do not assume that everything is OK without checking.
DAT review source: Preparing for the DAT, Betz Publishing Co., (800) 634-4365.

Process:

  • Apply through the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS).
  • LLU screens application and sends Supplementary Application to eligible applicants.
  • LLU screens completed Supplementary Application and sends invitation for interviews to selected applicants.
  • Interview on campus (here at PUC during November visit).
  • Completed applicant file is reviewed by Admissions Committee and acceptance letter is sent to selected applicant.

Taking the DAT

Test Session

When the candidate arrives at the Sylvan Testing Center to take the Computerized DAT, two forms of identification will be requested. One form must include a photograph; and at least one must include a signature. At the Sylvan test center, candidates will be photographed and fingerprinted before proceeding with the test.

The candidate will be able to become familiar with the workings of the computer by taking a brief tutorial before beginning the actual test. The DAT is presented in the multiple-choice format. Candidates may request scratch paper to be used during the test.

The candidate will have a total of 4 hours and 5 minutes to complete the four tests in the DAT battery. A 15-minute break is optional after completing the second test in the battery. If you take the break, be aware that the computer will start the next test segment after 15 minutes even if you have not returned yet.

The Computerized DAT battery includes

  • Survey of Natural Sciences - 90 Minutes
  • Perceptual Ability Test - 60 Minutes
  • Break (optional) - 15 Minutes
  • Reading Comprehension Test - 60 Minutes
  • Quantitative Reasoning Test - 45 Minutes

Test Results

The candidate will receive official DAT scores immediately after completing the four tests in the DAT battery. Schools indicated on the candidate's application to receive DAT scores will receive them approximately three weeks after the testing date.

For more information about the DAT, go to the ADA site for the DAT.

Pre-Dental Recommendations

In March of the year in which you apply for dental school, you need to also turn in a request for a recommendation from PUC. The committee begins meeting in early April so you must turn in your application within the last few weeks of winter quarter. The application is available at the Academic Dean's Office. Please note that you may request a committee recommendation at the beginning of fall quarter but this will reduce your chances for admission as LLUSD and many other dental schools practice rolling admissions.  It will be to your benefit if you are well known to the individuals on the Professional Recommendation Committee and if you provide ample information on your recommendation request to aid us in our evaluation. The individuals on the Professional Recommendation Committee are:

Committee Member Department
Maria Rankin Brown (chair) Associate Academic Dean
John Duncan Biology (Pre-Medical advisor)
Marie Pak Chemistry (Pre-Medical advisor)
Robin Vance Biology (Pre-Medical advisor)
Aimee Wyrick Biology (Pre-Dental advisor)
Pablo Hilario Chemistry (Pre-Dental advisor)
Kent Davis Chemistry (Pre-med advisor)
Denise Lee-Haye Chemistry (Pre-pharm advisor)
James Robertson Physics (Pre-Dental advisor)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need to have a college degree before I can get accepted into dental school?
No, a four-year degree is not required, typically. However, the vast majority of successful candidates have a 4-year baccalaureate degree when they matriculate to dental school. It not only makes your application stronger, but also places you in a good position educationally, if you are not accepted or decide to go another direction professionally.

Roughly 80% of the dental students at LLU have an undergraduate degree, and another 10% have 4+ years of college without a degree. Getting a college degree is strongly encouraged because it gives you a fall-back position in case something goes wrong in dental school (e.g., you find that dentistry isn't what you want to do with your life, a family emergency requires you to drop out of school, you cannot afford dental school, you do not have the dexterity required for dentistry, etc.).

2. What is the deadline for submitting my application?
Deadlines are set by each dental school and can be found by accessing each school's website. It is strongly recommended that applicants apply early, soon after the AADSAS process opens in June of the year preceding anticipated matriculation. Some schools actually have deadlines in January or February of the actual year of matriculation, but the admissions evaluation process usually begins in the fall of the preceding year. (Sometimes an Admissions Committee member may question the motivation and commitment of an applicant who waited until the "last minute" to submit their application. APPLY EARLY!!

3. Should I wait until after I take the DAT to submit my application through AADSAS? 
No, the application process through AADSAS is not connected to or dependent on the DAT. Again, submit your application early.

4. When should I get recommendations? Who do I need recommendations from?
First, ask prospective recommenders well in advance of the time you intend to have your application completed. When you receive their permission, submit their name and contact information to AADSAS. Since this process will be occurring in June or July (a common vacation time for most people), the actual recommendations may not be submitted immediately upon the request from AADSAS via email. Give the recommenders a reasonable amount of time to submit their recommendations before emailing them a "gentle" reminder. It is your responsibility to make sure that each recommender provides their evaluation in a timely manner. 

It is very important for you to obtain recommendations from individuals who know you well. You should have established relationships with numerous prospective recommenders during your first three years in college. Unless the dental schools to which you are applying specify otherwise, it is recommended that you request one or two evaluations from science faculty, perhaps one from an employer, and one from a dental health professional. Some dental schools prefer a recommendation from a "Pre-professional Recommendations Committee." Again, check with each dental school to which you are applying to determine any preference.

Loma Linda University School of Dentistry requires an evaluation from PUC's "Pre-professional Recommendations Committee." Contact the Administrative Assistant for the Academic Dean (Chan Shun Hall, 102, Ext 6234) to make the request for an evaluation from this committee. You will be given a questionnaire and asked to provide information to the Committee. Please be complete and provide the document in a timely manner. The Committee usually begins its work the 2nd week of fall quarter each year and continues until all requests have been fulfilled (usually in late November). Preference is given to requests submitted early and for those who have earlier deadlines from the dental schools to which they are applying. 

5. What is the minimum GPA to get accepted into LLU School of Dentistry?
Dental schools may actually list a "minimum" GPA on their website; however, this is usually well-below the average GPA of successful applicants. For the dental school at Loma Linda University the average overall GPA of successful applicants has been about 3.5 for several years (including the freshman class of 2009). The average science GPA has been very close to this same value. Since some applicants may have very high GPA's (3.7 and above), it stands to reason that some applicants are accepted with less than a 3.5. Applicants with lower GPA's usually have very strong DAT scores and an academic record that has shown considerable improvement in the last year or two of college work. 

6. What is the minimum DAT score to get accepted into LLU School of Dentistry?
There is no "official" minimum score. The average academic and perceptual (PAT) for successful candidates have been in the 19-20 range in recent years. Probably any individual scores below 17 or 18 will raise questions about the applicant's ability. For applicants whose first language is not English, the Reading Comprehension score is especially important. Even when the academic and perceptual scores are high, a low Reading Comprehension score can pose a significant problem for acceptance. Be sure to talk with a pre-dental advisor, if you have any concerns about this issue. 

7. Would I have a better chance of getting accepted into LLU School of Dentistry if I went to a closer school like La Sierra University?
There is no evidence that attending a school closer to Loma Linda, California, has any bearing on acceptance rate. Historically, Pacific Union College has provided a very significant number of successful applicants to the School of Dentistry at LLU, often more than any other College/University.

8. Does going to an Adventist college make a difference in getting accepted into LLU School of Dentistry?
Because the Seventh-day Adventist Church owns and operates Loma Linda University, preference is given to qualified dental applicants who are members of the Church. The choice of one's undergraduate institution is a personal one and may involve many factors, including the majors available at a church college/university and the family financial situation. Attendance at one of the Church's institutions demonstrates a certain financial and philosophical commitment to the value of a Christian and Seventh-day Adventist education. Unless it can be demonstrated that there in an inconsistent interest in a Christ-centered education, there should be no prejudice toward anyone not enrolled in an Adventist college/university. 

9. What is special about LLU School of Dentistry?
LLU School of Dentistry is committed to providing a high-quality education in a "Christ-Centered" context. It is the only dental school in the United States that advertises itself as a "Christian" school and recognizes the need for a holistic approach to health care that includes spiritual values. 

Historically LLUSD offers (and requires) more clinical experience than most dental schools in the United States. Upon completion of the four-year program, most graduates are ready to begin practicing general dentistry immediately. 

LLUSD is well-known and respected, not just in the US, but also around the world. One of the more recent innovations in the educational program is the very significant use of computer software in the learning process. Other dental schools are looking to LLU as a vanguard in this regard.

10. What about drawbacks of LLU School of Dentistry?
As with most private schools, tuition costs are high relative to state-funded institutions. The Financial Aid Office is very helpful to students in helping to obtain grants and loans.

Some schools have programs that can be completed in three years, whereas it takes four years at LLU. It has been argued that the extra time allows for the extensive clinic experience that is such a positive factor in the educational process.

11. How many of my gender will there by at LLU School of Dentistry?
The class entering in 2006 was 28% females. The number of women applying for dentistry is still only half the number of men applying, which is a primary reason that there are more men than women at LLU School of Dentistry.

12. What classes besides the required ones should I take to prepare for dental school?
The recommended courses are listed in another section of this website. There are at least two schools of thought with regard to electives. (1) Take courses which will help you most directly in dental school, especially the first year or two. Since you will be taking courses that are mostly very intensive in dental school, any exposure in college should help make life a bit easier during the first term or year. (2) Take some courses that will be directly helpful in dental school, but also take some that will prepare you for the practical aspects of practicing dentistry, such as business courses. College is also the last time for most people of taking subjects just because they are of interest or will be "fun". Once you begin dental school and then establish a practice, the time for investigating other subjects is seriously reduced. 

13. I've been accepted! What should I do now?
When you are accepted they will tell you to relax during the summer and collect teeth from local dentists. Take them seriously! Work hard at relaxing because it's going to be four years until you have another opportunity to relax.