The mouth is one part of a complex body, and the health of each area of the body impacts all other areas. Students must appreciate the body as a whole to understand the connection between dental health and overall health. A major in Biology or Biochemistry at Anderson University provides education of the whole body, necessary for success in dental school.
Our professors arm students with the vocabulary and academic concepts, and—just as important—they foster critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, preparing students to apply classroom concepts in real-life dentistry and ensuring they'll excel in their field.
Major in Biology or Biochemistry
The College of Arts and Sciences recommends pre-dentistry students major in Biology or Biochemistry, both of which provide students a strong foundation for understanding oral health. Each of these majors encompasses three semesters of core coursework. These classes establish the necessary background to grasp the inner workings of all the body's systems.
Upper-level courses and electives include microbiology, immunology and animal physiology, among others. Microbiology educates students on bacteria, which can invade the mouth—just like any other part of the body—causing dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. Professors of immunology and animal physiology teach students how the body functions. Studying the immune system helps students understand how the mouth defends the body against pathogens. In animal physiology, students will learn about the structure of the body, including the mouth's bone, muscles and tissue.
Our pre-dental students often choose to pursue a minor in medical physics in order to better understand the medical machinery, such as radiographs for X-ray imaging, used in their field. Biology students may decide to minor in chemistry to strengthen their understanding of organisms on a cellular and molecular level, important for understanding overall health.
Biology or Biochemistry core classes as well as upper-level and elective courses provide the best preparation for the Dental Admission Test (DAT) standardized exam, taken during the summer after junior year.
Anderson's Biology and Biochemistry students complete a research project to hone their investigative and exploratory skills. Dentistry, like any medical field, is an application of research. Students who understand best practices for conducting research and also recognize the limits and complications of such analyses will be most successful in their field.
Projects conducted at the university's Center for Cancer Research are especially relevant for students planning for graduate work in medicine. Just as in any other part of the body, cancer can occur in the mouth. Students have the opportunity for first-hand exploration into cancer research in all parts of the human body. Our students have been honored with some of the highest undergraduate awards for their work at the center.
The on-campus human cadaver laboratory located in the School of Nursing provides a rare undergraduate opportunity for preparation in medical fields, including dentistry. Anatomy and physiology courses—one of the first topics covered in dental school—include several laboratory experiences in this facility.
The Anderson University Pre-Professional Health Sciences Committee is a valuable resource for pre-dentistry students. Students can meet one-on-one with a committee member for advice on planning coursework, preparing for standardized tests, developing interview skills and more. The entire committee can convene to interview a student seeking a letter of recommendation. Committee members can also provide helpful feedback on the interview and offer opportunities for further practice with individual members.
Anderson's small student-teacher ratio provides deeper relationships between professors and undergraduates. Students find these relationships helpful for one-on-one advising and, later, for recommendation letters for dental school as they near the completion of their degrees.
Healthcare professions provide excellent venues for Anderson students to exhibit Christian service. According to the American Dental Association, approximately one-third of Americans have little or no access to dental care, due to transportation difficulties, prioritization of other health issues and basic needs, lack of insurance and other financial barriers, and trouble understanding government assistance programs. Pre-dentistry students have opportunities to share their skills with those who need them most.