Dental School: Year Three

May 26, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

Observing at Kibosho dental surgery Year three of dental school is a big deal. For one thing, you made it half way through the program. Another important thing about your third year is you will have the opportunity to work on real patients. Your third year of dental school also brings continued challenges and many new learning opportunities. 

For some people, their third year of dental school is their favorite. By your third year, you are probably adjusted to the schedule and have developed an effective way of juggling all your classes and labs. Hopefully, you have stayed on track and are maintaining good grades.

At the start of year three, you also get to some of the interesting stuff. While your first two years of dental school focused largely on science classes and the foundation you need, your last two years go deeper.

The good news is, third year may not bring the same anxiety as your fourth-year might. For example, in your fourth year, you may be worried about completing all the clinical tasks you need and meeting all your graduation requirements. You may also be studying for the second part of your national boards or trying to get a fellowship.

So for now, enjoy your junior year of dental school. Plan to still attend lectures, but less than you did in your second year of school. You may still have classes in subjects, such as pediatric dentistry, orthodontics and radiology. Some classes may also involve more dental specialization. You may have lectures on orthodontics, periodontology and implant dentistry.

Instead of five hours a day of lectures, you may only have two or three hours. But don’t worry. You won’t get bored because you still have plenty to do.  As a third- year student, you start working on patients in a variety of settings. That’s right, you are turned loose on patients with various dental needed. But you are closely supervised by faculty.

Observing a dental procedure in Kilimanjaro Although dental schools operate differently, usually you will be providing care for patients in the general dentistry student clinic. In this clinic, patients may require dental exams, fillings and other basic procedures. You may also provide care in various specialty clinics your school has, such as periodontics or endodontics.

Your third year of dental school will provide a lot of hands-on experience.  Depending on your school, you may also be involved in providing education and patient screenings at community dental programs at geriatric centers, health fairs and schools.

If you made it this far in dental school, you are probably doing something right. So keep working hard and stay focused on your goal. Now is not the time to slack. Remember, just because you have fewer lectures, does not mean you don’t have to study.

You don’t want to fall behind at any point during dental school. Additionally, take advantage of the opportunities you have in the student clinic. Now is the time to learn how to do the procedures you will perform as a dentist. If there is something you are unsure of or are struggling with, get help from a professor.