Deciding to become a dentist is a wise career move: the hours are good, the money is even better and, if patients are rude to you, you get to drill into their teeth and poke sharp things at their gums.
On the downside, though, the training required to become qualified can be long and rigorous. In the US, for instance, you need to complete a three-year bachelor’s degree followed by four years of dental school, while in the UK, you will spend at least five years studying. It helps, therefore, if you’re at a college or university that excels in dentistry and which can make the whole process more bearable.
These are the 10 best dental schools in the world.
10. University of Zurich
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
The University of Zurich is one of two Swiss schools to make this list. The Center for Dental Medicine offers a wide range of fields to study, from dental reconstruction to oral implantology to esthetic treatments. What’s more, the school offers both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree programme.
It should be noted that the bachelor’s and teaching diploma programmes at the University of Zurich are taught in German. But the master’s programmes are instructed in German, English, French, Italian and Spanish. So, you will need to hone your language skills if you’re only pursuing a bachelor’s degree at this fine institution.
9. Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA)
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Have you ever wanted to live, study and work in The Netherlands? Well, this is your opportunity, especially if you are searching for a career in the dental field.
ACTA has become one of the top schools in international rankings for dentistry. But ACTA maintains a diverse array of services that go beyond education, including patient care and scientific research, which is great for students who want to attain practical hands-on experience.
The dental school has been celebrated for going beyond the basics and adopting a so-called Dentistry 3.0, a programme marketed as ‘more than a dazzling smile’.
8. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Location: Leuven, Belgium
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven – or KU Leuven, for short – is a renowned institution within the oral health sciences world. Unfortunately, the dentistry programme is only taught in Dutch, meaning that you’ll have to scrub up on your language skills if you want to study here. If you’re a non-EU student and your university has an exchange agreement with Leuven, it is possible to spend three months in the department alongside a Dutch speaker.
Luckily, many of the school’s master’s programmes are taught in English, so if postgraduate study in the fields of forensic odontology, deglutology or algology sounds like your bag, then you could be in luck. Due to the provincial structure of Belgian higher education, meanwhile, tuition fees can vary widely depending on where you are from and what your financial background is.
7. University College London (UCL)
Location: London, England
While there is undoubtedly the potential for a joke here about British people and teeth, UCL represents the first of two UK entries on this list. Indeed, the University’s Eastman Dental Institute – adjacent to the Eastman Dental Hospital with which it is affiliated – is home to one of the finest dentistry research groups in the world.
Perhaps bizarrely, the school doesn’t offer an undergraduate course in dentistry; its array of specialist certificates, postgraduate programmes and research opportunities make it a more than worthy inclusion, though.
Tuition fees vary depending on your choice, of course, where you are from and what funding you are eligible for, but overall, they are in line with most other UK universities.
6. University of Bern
Location: Bern, Switzerland
The University of Bern is the other Swiss institution that offers a comprehensive dental school programme. It contains multiple departments in speciality dental fields, including Department of Oral Surgery and Stomatology, the Department of Periodontology and the Department of Reconstructive Dentistry and Gerodontology. You can receive your bachelor’s, master’s, and post-doctoral training at this school.
Moreover, graduates who participate in the school’s clinical activities can earn first-hand experience in treatment planning sessions, observing clinical patient treatment and assisting patient treatment. Plus, your time will be separated into 80% patient care and 20% research.
This is one of the most celebrated universities for dental education. Considering what you learn, it is understandable why this is the case.
The latest figures suggest that nearly one-fifth of the student body are people from outside Switzerland. Of course, that doesn’t mean you will get off scot-free by not speaking German. You will need to improve your language skills, even if only a little bit.
5. University of Gothenburg
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
You are participating in Swedish history by simply walking through the halls of the University of Gothenburg. Why? It is the third oldest Swedish university, and it is a massive institution with 37,000 students and more than 6,000 staff members. In fact, it is one of the largest universities among Nordic nations.
Its dental programme is also considered to be one of the most advanced in the world, primarily because of its internationally leading dental research centre. Moreover, for students who desire an eclectic education in this field, you can expect to receive a broad base for clinical and experimental education, experience and research.
Indeed, there is a reason why the school attracts students from all over the world.
4. University of Washington
Location: Seattle, US
Based in the trendy north-western metropolis of Seattle, the University of Washington School of Dentistry (UWSOD) offers students a world-class dental education. On the downside, though, the school is something of a closed shop.
According to the university’s admission stats, UWSOD receives around 1,000 applications per year for 63 places – a slim acceptance rate of around 6.3% – with Washington and, to a lesser extent, WICHE residents taking the very large majority of those spots.
If you’re one of the lucky few non-residents to squeeze in (some places are reserved for international students), then you can expect to pay tuition costs of around $102,000 (£76,630) per year, not including your personal and living costs.
3. Harvard University
Location: Cambridge, US
When it comes to university rankings, it seems as though, no matter the subject, Harvard is a world leader. Dentistry is clearly no different, with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine – based in Boston – offering numerous postgraduate courses, including the DMD programme.
As part of the ongoing curriculum – which makes full use of Harvard’s unique teaching methods – students are also expected to develop and complete a research project in their second, third and fourth years, closely complementing the existing inter-disciplinary approach.
Tuition fees are set at around $85,070 (£63,920) per year, although this does not include living costs, travel and other personal allowances.
1. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (tie)
Location: Ann Arbor, US
Despite its reputation for athletic prowess, the University of Michigan is also one of the foremost scientific research universities in the US. Unsurprisingly, its dental school, located on the picturesque campus at Ann Arbor, is a beneficiary of this success.
There are numerous postgraduate programmes available, with the main dentistry stream following the DDS curriculum, while tuition fees for non-Michigan residents are set at around $68,370 (£51,370) per year (not including living and personal costs).
1. King’s College London (tie)
Location: London, England
Amalgamated under the academic umbrella of the University of London, King’s College is a research-driven institution with the largest dental school in the UK, graduating around 150 dentists each year. Unlike UCL, it offers the five-year BDS undergraduate programme and provides students with the opportunity to gain clinical experience in several world-class hospitals as well.
Tuition fees for UK applicants are capped by the British government at £9,250 ($12,310) per year, while international students are looking at £43,500 ($57,900) per year. (These fees don’t include living or personal costs, nor do they account for additional costs for travel, graduation and security checks.)
As you can see, there are top-level options for studying dentistry all over the globe, although when choosing a university, you should always look at what is the best fit for you – not everybody else.
In the meantime, where are you planning to study? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 21 March 2019 and was written in collaboration with Andrew Moran. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 30 November 2020.