There are several crucial steps necessary to become a forensic dentist, including obtaining the right type of education, gaining crucial experience and preparing for and taking the necessary examinations for certification. Education and training are used to prepare future forensic dentists in traditional dentistry, forensic science as it applies to dentistry and methods for determining a variety of different types of information from the teeth and mouth of a victim or suspect. Unlike many other medical professions, it is necessary to obtain experience in the field before completing your education and becoming recognized as a forensic dental scientist.
The first necessary step to become a forensic dentist is to complete high school as well as earn a bachelor's degree from a respected college or university. Students interested in becoming dentists often choose pre-dental courses such as pathology, anatomy and physiology, especially of the mouth and head, and how dental health affects a person's overall health. Many dental students choose to become involved in internships and other networking and experience-building opportunities to enhance their learning options during school. In most cases, college advisers can assist students with taking the best courses to reach their goals as well as to find extracurricular opportunities.
After completing a bachelor's degree in pre-dental studies, the next step to become a forensic dentist is to attend dental school, usually for an additional four years. During this phase, students develop an in-depth understanding of gum and tooth disease and methods to treat a variety of conditions. Upon completing dental school, students sit for the licensing exam and are given the appropriate credentials to practice dentistry in their communities.
Before going on to a career in such a specialized form of dentistry, candidates are encouraged to work for a few years in a related field. For example, many experts suggest working with a coroner's office or medical examiner for hands-on experience with forensic dentistry. There are relatively few forensic dentistry positions available each year, and this experience can be instrumental in helping a candidate be successful in obtaining a job in his or her field.
The final step to become a forensic dentist is to obtain membership with the local governing forensic dentistry association. These groups usually require a dentistry degree, some experience in the forensic field and two letters of recommendation from current members of the organization. After successfully completing all of the requirements, you will receive the necessary credentials to become a forensic dentist and can begin working in the field.