Medical School Vs. Dental School – A Comparison

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Medical School vs. Dental School

Most people may not understand why dental school is not part of medical school. Historically, the dental school has been separated from medical school because dentistry is considered a different risk, and dental students take different course practices.

Physicians and dentists both provide primary healthcare to patients, but they differ in their specialization.

Medical and dental schools can be pretty challenging. However, the results are encouraging. Dentists and doctors can have a six-figure starting salary.

Medical school vs. Dental school

A significant difference between medical and dental school is that dental school is small scale. In contrast, medical school is a large scale, i.e., dentists focus on teeth and oral health whereas physicians focus on the whole body’s general health.

Dental Field

Oral health involves a fresh mouth, healthy teeth and gums, a good smell, and generally the mouth’s wellbeing and the surrounding structures.

Dentists ensure that oral patients regain or maintain their dental function, comfort and appearance by diagnosing and treating oral infections.

After the four-year degree course, dentists are awarded the Doctor of Medical Dentist, DMD, or a Doctor of Dental Surgery, DDS. Dentists do not require to go for residency programs, but it is necessary for them too.

Most dentists open their dental firms, while a few would want to get employed. One may choose to continue with further studies to specialize in a particular field.

The American Dental Association, ADA recognizes nine specialization fields. The fields include:

1. Periodontics

This field involves the care, prevention, and treatment of gum-related infections. Periodontists use root surface debridement and deep cleaning methods to treat the diseases.

These gum specialists are also trained to deal with dental implant placement and maintenance.

2. Orthodontics

Also referred to as alignment is the branch that specializes in the alignment of the teeth, gaps, and jaws. The alignment doctor corrects the abnormalities with the use of non-surgical procedures.

3. Pedodontics

This branch of dentistry is concerned with the oral health of children and teens. The dentists treat and advise and monitor the growth and development of kids on their dental.

4. Oral and maxillofacial surgery

Oral surgery is concerned with diagnosing illnesses, injuries, and abnormalities of the human jaws and related structures and the surgery performed to correct them.

Oral surgeons are referred to by both dentists and doctors for a wide range of special dental issues. These surgeons can treat cysts, tumors, lesions, and infections of the mouth and jaws and remove impacted and contaminated teeth.

5. Prosthodontics

A physician who practices prosthodontics is also known as a restorative dentist. The specialists deal in the replacement of missing and broken teeth.

Prosthodontists can also work on traumatic mouth injuries, jaw joint problems, and post oral cancer reconstruction.

6. Oral and maxillofacial pathology

This specialty deals with the causes and management of oral diseases and their effect on facial, jaw, and general oral health. The specialists give a diagnosis which the other specialists use for treatment.

Oral and maxillofacial radiology is a radiology branch concerned with diagnostic imaging to analyze radiographic images of the mouth, face, neck, and head.

7. Public health dentistry

This is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the population. The dentists are involved in disease prevention, policy creation, and general dental health monitoring.

8. Endodontics

This branch deals with the center of the tooth, the root. The root contains living cells and nerves and must be treated with a lot of care. The dentists focus on the treatment and prevention of diseases in the dental pulp.

Dentists mainly apply root canal therapy for treatment. The doctors are often referred to as ‘tooth root doctors.’

Medical Field

Doctors play an essential role in society. They prevent, diagnose, prescribe and treat patients of varied diseases and help preserve lives.

To be a fully licensed doctor, one has to do a four-year course in medicine and then go for residency for another 3-7 years in their area of specialty.

Medicine focuses on the health of the entire body. Compared to dental, medicine has less manual work given that doctors mainly diagnose and refer or provide a treatment plan for the patients.

Most doctors are employed, some freelance, and a few start their medical firms. After the four-year degree course, medical students are exposed to a wide range of specialty fields.

There are over twenty specialties in the medical field. Listed below are some of the most sought-after areas:

1. Cardiology

This field deals with the heart and the blood vessels. Cardiologists deal with cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks, high and low blood pressure, heart failure, and irregular heartbeat.

2. Dermatology

It involves the study of the skin. A dermatologist is an expert who deals with skin, nails, and hair diseases. Acne, eczema, and skin allergies are common skin infections.

3. Immunology

This is the study of the immune system. Immunologists diagnose and treat diseases such as allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune disorders that attack the immune system.

4. Hematology

This is the study of blood diseases. Hematologists deal with disorders such as the spleen, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, leukemia, etc.

5. Neurology

It is the study of the nervous system, which comprises the spinal cord and the brain. Neurologists treat diseases such as stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, etc.

6. Gynecology

It is the study of the female reproductive system. Gynecologists take care of the reproductive health of women. This field goes hand in hand with obstetrics, which deals with pregnancy, childbirth, and postnatal care. The two areas are mostly combined.

7. Oncology

This is the study of cancer. Oncologists prevent, diagnose and treat cancer often so by doing chemotherapy on the patients.

8. Pediatrics

It is the study of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that affect infants, children, and teens. Pediatricians can further specialize in pediatric cardiology, critical care, child abuse, emergency medicine, etc. Furthermore, they can expand their knowledge via flexible online courses and get a PALS certificate that can help them enrich their qualifications.

9. Psychiatry

This study deals with mental and emotional disorders. Such disorders include anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, and addiction. Psychiatrists can further specialize in mental retardation, legal psychiatry, administrative psychiatry, etc.

10. Urology

This is the study of the prevention and treatment of diseases affecting the urinary tract. Such conditions include bladder control and kidney stones.

The other medical fields include surgery, radiology, neurology, sports medicine, endocrinology, family medicine, orthopedics, emergency medicine, and plastic surgery. In the given fields, one can still specialize further.

11. Pathology

This is the general study of diseases basing on the causes, effects, and nature. Pathologists examine body fluids, organs, and tissues by performing tests and giving diagnoses.

Why Dental School Is More Expensive

Compared to medical school, dental school fees can have a difference of up to USD 25000 per year. This difference can be attributed to these two main reasons;

  1. Purchasing dental equipment is expensive. Dentists are required to perform costly and complex procedures which require sophisticated equipment. This equipment costs a significant amount of money.
  2. Dental schools have dental student clinics where students get to have their patients in their third and fourth years. The building of student clinics is costly.

Best dental universities in the USA include; the University of Michigan and Harvard University. The University of Washington, the University of North Carolina, and the University of California are also considered to be among the best.

As for medical schools, among the best are Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, the University of California, Columbia University,  and Stanford University, just to mention a few.

Factors To Consider Before Making That Decision!

One should consider several factors before deciding the path to follow between dental and medical professions. Some are listed below:


Both dental and medical courses can be very time-consuming. The classes take four years to complete. The difference comes in the specialization stage, where dental students take 4-12 years to be a professional. Medical students, on the other hand, take 7-12 years.


Dental school has proved to be more expensive compared to medical school. Therefore, before choosing which field to venture into, one should consider the fees involved.

However, it is not advisable to use cost as a factor if you have a clear interest in a given field. Always choose interest over cost.


Before choosing either field, you should get adequate information on each area. The information may include the schools that offer these courses, the courses provided for each lot, and completion time.

You should also consider possible careers and the schools’ geographical location. Such information will be vital in helping you choose a school that is suitable for you.


Medical and dental schools are considered different entities because the students undergo diverse curriculum. Dental students focus only on oral health, whereas medical students focus on the entire body’s health.

Dental school is expensive than medical school because of the dental clinic program. Both dentists and physicians undergo rigorous training before becoming professionals. After graduate school, there are a lot of areas that one can specialize in for both fields.

Factors to consider before choosing a school include time, cost, and information. However, one should only choose their preferred field based on their interest.

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