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Doctor of Dental Medicine in the Philippines

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Program Overview

Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) is a degree program designed to prepare students for becoming a Registered Dentist in the Philippines. It aims to develop skills and technical principles of different dental procedures as well as in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases.

The Doctor of Dental Medicine program also educates students on how to interpret diagnostic information and procedures, develop a comprehensive oral health plan, perform appropriate clinical procedures and provide emergency dental services.

There are two paths to become a Dentist in the Philippines. The first path is to enroll in the two year Pre-dentistry program. Fresh high school graduates as well as those who aspire to become Dentists but graduated with a non-medical Bachelor’s degree (Bachelor’s degree in Education, Business etc.) can enroll in this program. Pre-dentistry takes two years to complete, if you managed to pass all the subjects in its curriculum.

The second path to become a Dentist is to first complete a Bachelor’s degree in any medical related course (Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, Medical Technology, Physical Therapy etc.). Most medical related courses take four years to complete, except for BS in Physical Therapy which is a 5 year course.

Once you completed one of these two requirements, you can apply to the Dentistry Proper program, which takes four years to complete.

Subjects and Curriculum

The first two years of the Pre-dentistry curriculum covers General Education and other health-related subjects, Basic Medical and Dental Sciences, and Pre-clinical subjects. This is followed by a four–year Dentistry Proper curriculum with the first two years covering basic medical and dental courses and the last two years consisting of clinical training.
  • Two-year Pre-dental Curriculum
    • Language/Humanities: English, Filipino, Humanities subjects
    • Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technology: Mathematics, Basic Statistics with Epidemiology Science, Technology and Society, Computer, Zoology, Botany, Chemistry, Physics
    • Social Sciences: Health Ethics, Psychology, Philippines Government and Constitution, Philippines History
    • Human Health Sciences: Genetics, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Primary Health Care
  • Four-Year Dentistry Curriculum
    • Basic Medical Sciences: General Anatomy, Biochemistry, General Microscopic Anatomy and Embryology, General Physiology with Family Planning, Nutrition, Microbiology, General Pathology, Pharmacology, Principles of Medicine
    • Basic Dental Sciences: Oral Anatomy, Dental History and Orientation, Computer Fundamentals and Dental Informatics, Oral Microscopic Anatomy and Embryology, Dental Materials, Restorative Dentistry, Prosthodontics, Oral Physiology and Occlusion, Oral Pathology, Anaesthesiology, Orthodontics, Roentgenology, Oral Surgery, Oral Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, Endodontics, Periodontology, Research, Practice Management and Entrepreneurship, Forensic Dentistry, Dental Jurisprudence and Ethics, Pediatric Dentistry with Child Psychology
    • Pre–Clinical subjects: Restorative Dentistry, Orthodontics
    • Clinical Dentistry: Clinical Dentistry 1 to 4, Current Trends in Dentistry, Special Studies (Ortho-Pedo Seminar, Prosthodontics Seminar, Restorative Dentistry Seminar, Oral Surgery Seminar, Endo-Perio Seminar)
    • Hospital Dentistry: Hospital Dentistry 1 and 2
    • Community Dentistry: Community Dentistry 1 to 3
The DMD program is taught to students in a variety of teaching methods. During the first two years of the Dental Proper program, students spend most of their time in classroom lectures, laboratory work and hands-on exercises. The last two years are spent mostly in experiential learning or clinical duty.

To qualify for graduation, a student must also complete the following requirements:
  • Completion of a research paper and oral defense before a panel of dental experts and faculty members.
  • A clinical proficiency examination in Restorative Dentistry, Prosthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry and Roentgenology should be taken and passed.

Is Dental Medicine a Profession?

Dental Medicine is a profession. A graduate of DMD who passes the Dental Board Examination is called a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Licensed Dentist.

The responsibilities of a Dentist include:
  • Evaluate the current health and condition of their patient’s teeth to determine diagnosis of dental condition
  • Inform their patients on how to prevent dental problems and keep their teeth and mouth as healthy as possible
  • Complete treatment on affected gums, decayed and fractured teeth, and perform tooth removal for cases where there are high levels of decay
  • Consider treatment methods and explain the options with the patient to determine which works best for them based on their situation
  • Monitor and evaluate any X-ray images for any part of the patient’s oral cavity
  • Refer patients to other dental specialists for more advanced procedures and care

What are the admission requirements for Doctor of Dental Medicine?

Aspiring Dental students have two options to be admitted in the four year Dentistry Proper program:
  • Complete a 2 year Pre-Dentistry program.
    The following are the admission requirements for the Pre-Dentistry program:
    • Must be a high school graduate.
      Those who did not complete high school education may opt to first attend Alternative Learning System (ALS) and pass the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) to qualify for college. However, some universities only offer selected courses for PEPT passers.
    • Dexterity Examination-Exercises: an applicant must obtain a specific weighted average for the dexterity exam to be able to be admitted in the two-year pre-dentistry course.
    • College entrance exam: must pass the college entrance examination with a specified rating set by the school.

  • Graduate from a Bachelor’s degree of any medical related course.
    Even without the completion of a Pre-Dentistry program, a student may be admitted to Dentistry Proper as long as he/she has finished a degree that is medically related. Student applicants are also required to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for Dentistry (CED) from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Compared to those who finished a 2 year Pre-Dentistry program, applicants who belong to this category are assessed thoroughly by CHED and may undergo additional screenings before they are issued a CED.
  • Additional Dentistry Proper Admission Requirements
    • Certificate of Eligibility for Dentistry (CED)
      Both Pre-Dentistry graduates and Bachelor’s degree holders of medical related courses must obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for Dentistry (CED) from CHED. Autonomous and deregulated dental colleges and universities can also issue the CED.
    • Physical, Psychological, Aptitude and Dexterity Examination
      The applicant must have passed a Physical, Psychological, Aptitude and Dexterity Examination to determine his/her suitability to the profession.
    (See sources 1, 2, 3, 4)

What skills, traits and attitude will help you succeed in this course?

  • Memorization skills – there is a huge volume of information to be memorized, to make it through you need excellent memory skills and concentration.
  • Good manual dexterity – being good with your hands is important as well as good eyesight, including color recognition; must have the manual dexterity to execute the gross and fine motor movements required to provide dental care for their patients.
  • Detail Oriented – during internship, you will be able to work like a real dentist performing different oral procedures. You will work with small tools in tight spaces, so you need to be detail oriented. You need to understand how to use light sources to see better and try not to drop tools into the patient's mouth.
  • Scientific Knowledge – good academic background and interest in scientific knowledge particularly human anatomy and oral diseases processes
  • Problem solving skills – the ability to observe, diagnose abnormalities and determine the best treatments.
  • Clinical efficiency – the ability to use medical instruments and perform medical and surgical procedures efficiently and safely
  • Patient Care Skills – the ability to understand and take care of patients with different oral problems and needs
  • Excellent people skills – since you would be providing dental care for people of all ages, from young children through to grandparents you should be able to put people at their ease, gain their confidence and deal sympathetically with their problems and fears.
  • Observation skills – ability to demonstrate skills in observation. In particular, a student must be able to accurately observe a patient and acquire visual, auditory and tactile information.
  • Organization – the ability to classify and arrange instruments according to use and purpose.

How difficult is the Doctor of Dental Medicine program?

The Doctor of Dental Medicine program is a difficult course. The program is filled with science subjects, which means that it is both theoretical and practical by nature. There is a huge volume of information to be memorized and understood; to make it through, you need excellent memory and concentration. While listening to long hours of lectures, you also need to do a lot of practice based procedures performed in Dentistry. The human oral cavity is an intricate area of the body and some procedures may be difficult to understand and learn.

The course requires a great deal of technical and motor skills. There are lots of instruments, equipment and complex oral surgical procedures that you have to learn how to do or operate. During your internship, you will be meeting clients who have a variety of oral cases. You have to be tolerant and confident enough to be able to perform specific oral procedures even in the most unpleasant scenarios.

As a clinical student, your timetable dramatically changes most especially when you’re doing your internship. Unlike the first two years of the Dental Proper program, you will now be simultaneously attending your clinical duty and classroom lectures. Time will be stressed because you have plenty of clinical requirements to do and examinations to study for. In addition, you need to finish the number of cases intended for specific procedures. If you are not able to comply, you’d have to look for a patient yourself and pay him/her for you to do the procedure.

Cost considerations

Doctor of Dental Medicine has higher tuition fee compared to other courses both in public and in private schools. Aside from being a six or eight year program, it incurs higher tuition because students use expensive laboratory instruments and equipment. Being a medically related course, additional expenses like affiliation and clinical internship fees are also collected by schools. The affiliation fee is paid to different hospitals and private dental clinics where students go for clinical duty. The clinical internship fee on the other hand serves as compensation for supervising Dentists. After graduation, students have to spend for their review as well as filing for the board examination.


The last two years of the Doctor of Dental Medicine program is spent entirely in the dental internship program. The program involves assigning students to different hospitals or community health centers which offer dental services. The program is done under the guidance of a Senior Dentist employed in the institution and an authorized faculty member.

The number of hours required for the internship varies from one school to another.

Although the clinical internship is done over two years, there is still a required number of duty hours that a student has to accomplish. When students take the board exam, one of the requirements that they need to pass is a summary of their duty hours which must coincide with the standard hours set by the PRC. The PRC will not credit the number of years because they require the specific number of hours.

Some schools opt to increase the hours for internship way beyond what is required from PRC while others settle just enough to meet the requirement so this explains the statement above.
(See source)

The Dental Board Examination

To be a full–fledged Dental Doctor/Dentist in the Philippines, a graduate of the DMD program needs to pass the Dental Board Examination. The Board of Dentistry facilitates the exam under the supervision of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

Unlike most board examinations, the licensure examination for the practice of dentistry in the Philippines consists of both a written exam and a performance/practical test. The practical exam is set one month after the written exam.

The exam includes subjects in general anatomy, oral anatomy, general histology, oral histology and embryology, general pathology, oral pathology, general physiology, oral physiology, to name a few.

In order to pass the board examination, a candidate must obtain a weighted average of at least 75% with no rating below 50% in any subject.
(See sources 1, 2)


Once a student passes the Dental Board Examination, he/she can now choose a field of specialization. The first step in acquiring a dentistry specialization is to undergo a two year residency training in accredited hospitals and other health care institutions. Aside from the completion of a residency training, an applicant is required to pursue a post-doctoral/master’s degree/specialty education program related to his/her desired field of specialization. This usually takes two years to complete.

After completing the said requirements, he/she becomes eligible to apply for a certification in his chosen field of specialization. A number of documentary requirements must be submitted to the specialty association (Philippine Board of Pediatric Dentistry, Philippine Board of Orthodontics) concerned. The certification process consists of four stages:
  • Phase I: Application And Determination Of Eligibility
  • Phase II: Written Examinations
  • Phase III: Clinical Skills And Case Presentation
  • Phase IV: Clinical Case Presentations
Applying for a Dentistry Specialization is a long process. The exact timeframe as to when it is completed cannot be determined. It will mainly depend on whether you are able to pass the examinations and comply with the requirements set for each phase
(See sources 1, 2, 3, 4)

The following are common areas of specialization in Dentistry:
  • Periodontics – the focus of study is care of the gums and tissue surrounding the teeth.
  • Orthodontics – emphasis is centered on teaching students procedures on jaw alignment and positioning of the teeth. Orthodontists utilize a variety of methods and oral appliances to help straighten and realign crooked or misaligned teeth.
  • Cosmetic Dentistry – concerned with the overall dental health of patients through creating and maintaining aesthetic balance and function of teeth
  • Endodontics – includes topics such as root canal therapy and study of diseases of the dental pulp.
  • Prosthodontics – focused on teaching students how to create dentures, bridges and the restoration of implants.
  • Dental Surgery – studies dental procedures such as extractions, implants, and facial surgery.
  • Pediatric Dentistry – dentistry practice concerning children

Career opportunities for Dentistry graduates

  • Jobs for licensed Dentists (board exam passers)

    • General Dentist – provides cleanings and general dental health care prevention and maintenance such as teeth cleaning, fluoride treatments, cavity fillings, and root canals.
    • Government dentist – a dentist employed by the government to work in public hospitals and community health clinics
    • School Dentist – a dentist employed in schools to perform oral care to students and faculty members
    • Private Dental practitioner – a private dentist who owns his/her clinic and gives service to people per appointment basis
    • Public Health Dentist – a specific type of dentist that works specifically with specific communities who have dire dental needs.
    • Military Dentist – a dentist who serves in the military; examines, diagnoses and treats disease, abnormalities, injuries and dysfunctional disorders of the oral cavity and its associated structures.
    • Academician Dentists – employed as instructors in colleges and universities which offer the Dentistry program
    • Dental industry experts, consultants and researchers
  • Jobs for Non Board Passers:

    • Dental Assistant – help dentists with a variety of tasks but are not qualified to do full cleanings and identify cavities as licensed Dentists do.
    • Dental Hygienist – dental hygienists can provide some basic dental care under the supervision of a licensed dentist.
    • Dental Lab Technician – play a non-clinical role, meaning they do not work directly with patients. Dental lab techs work in a lab, behind the scenes, manufacturing crowns and other dental prostheses which require custom specifications.
    • Dental Representative – promotes and sells dental medications, agents and equipment to hospitals and private dental clinics
    • Dental Office Manager – responsible for all of the administrative duties in a dental office. These managers must coordinate marketing, budget office expenses, arrange staff meetings and handle payroll. They may also schedule patient appointments, staff schedules and perform billing and bookkeeping duties.
  • Career Opportunities Abroad

    Filipino Dentists are not in demand abroad. Like Medical Doctors who train as Nurses to be able to work in other countries, some Filipino Dentists settle on working as Dental Hygienists, specifically in the Middle East, because the compensation is higher than working as a Dentist in the Philippines.

Reviews of Doctor of Dental Medicine graduates:

E. M.
◈ Studied Doctor of Dental Medicine
◈ At University of the Philippines Manila
◈ Graduated 2012

list bulletAbout my college education: My education is difficult and challenging but definitely worth it. If you enjoy situations where you are exposed to pressures, this is definitely the right course for you. I’m not scaring you or anything, I’m just being plainly honest.

In this course, it is not enough that you understand theoretical area of the course. If you’re good in memorizing but lack skills using your hands, this is not good for you. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that you must have dexterity. Since we are dealing with the small structures inside the mouth, we must be delicate enough not to hurt the patient when doing the treatments. Sometimes, the students forget that patients are also human beings that can feel pain and they are not just like your laboratory mannequins that can open their mouth 180 degrees.

When restoring the teeth with a filling, you’ll feel like you’re a sculptor since you are required to shape the tooth back to it's original form. You’ll also feel like an engineer when constructing dentures since it requires principles like you’re making a bridge.

Moreover, your social skill is also important. You must make the patients feel that they are in good hands; that you care for them. You must not let your patient be affected by your problems. You must always be polite even if the patient comes late and you only have an hour to finish the dental treatment. Everything you do in the clinic requires patience.

But all in all, it’s all about the effort and hard work. As long as you believe that you can succeed in this career, anything is possible.

list bulletMy current job: I am an associate dentist for a private clinic located at Manila.

list bulletAm I using what I learned in college: Definitely yes. Everything that I learned in college are valuable for the growth of my career as a dentist. The skills such as problem solving skills, analytical skills, clinical skills that I have learned helped me manage the complaints of my patient.

In addition, it may seem that, as a dentist, I am only concerned with the oral cavity and it's associated structures but we, the dentists, may also be the one to first diagnose a medical condition of the patient. This is evident because of the fact that dental students must have an understanding of the basic sciences. In other words, we are required to understand all the body systems and the associated diseases. Because of the strong basic science training stressed in our first two years, it definitely provided us a solid foundation for professional growth. Moreover, this knowledge made us well prepared to critically review and analyze dental literature to help us manage to keep up with the latest dental trends.

list bulletHow long did it take to find a job: Since I graduated from the premiere school of the Philippines, it wasn’t difficult to find a job. It just took me less than 2 weeks to find a stable and satisfying career.

list bulletDo I recommend studying Dental Medicine: I would definitely recommend my course to other people. Why? Because there are a lot opportunities for a dental graduate. You can practice in many different settings by being a general practitioner in all areas of dental medicine or maybe as a specialist. You can build your own private practice or enter the government as a community dentist. You may also apply for an externship in hospitals like the Philippine General Hospital and the Philippine Children Medical Center. Moreover, the dental graduate may also apply to become a dental researcher, teacher at a dental school or as a health-care administrators. There are a lot of career opportunities waiting for you after graduation.

You may also enrich your career by taking up postgraduate studies and many universities in the Philippines are providing these. If you want a very exciting career, I definitely recommend the study of forensic dentistry. I think, this specialization is only offered outside the country.

In terms of income, you will definitely have a higher salary rate compared to an average salary man because aside from the basic pay that you’re receiving from your employer, you will also be receiving commissions that may extend up to 40%. This means that if the total amount of treatments you did for the month is 50k, 40% of it will be yours. If you have your own clinic, you’ll definitely earn more.
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