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Studying Dentistry in Germany

Dentists treat all diseases in the mouth
An article by Florian Schumann

Studying Dentistry in Germany
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That is what it’s about

Toothache, bleeding gums, problems with the jaw joint - oral diseases are part of dentistry. At the same time, medicine is playing an increasingly important role. Patients are getting older, many have multiple diseases. Dentists need to know what to look for when they pull a tooth in patients who are taking anticoagulant drugs. “A good dentist must not only be a good craftsman, but also have medical knowledge and scientific expertise,” says Ralph Luthardt, a professor at the University of Ulm and president of the Association of Dental, Oral and Maxillofacial Professors. The degree course is more practical than that of the medical profession. "Dentistry students treat patients on their own from the seventh semester onwards," says Luthardt. Until then, they must have both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

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This is how the course runs

Dentistry degrees usually take eleven semesters. It has the same structure at every location and ends with the state examination. In the first half of the study, the “pre-clinic”, dental and human physicians often sit together in the lecture theatre and read up on science. After one year, dentists must pass the oral intermediate examination in physics, chemistry and biology. After the 5th semester comes the intermediate examination in which, in addition to anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, technical skills are also tested. Dentistry students acquire these from the first semester on: They form plaster models, prostheses and crowns. Later, they practice on the phantom, a plastic head, how to prepare teeth and fillings. In the clinical phase of the course, the focus is on the application in practice, especially in the five core subjects of orthodontics, dental surgery, dental prosthetics, dental preservation and periodontics. The dental examination at the end of the studies includes 13 subjects. Before you can work as a dentist, you still have to complete a two-year preparation period, partly in the dental practice, partly in a hospital or in a dental clinic. After graduation one can further specialize, for example as an orthodontist or oral surgeon.

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Typical questions raised within the subject

  • How is the tooth, mouth and jaw system anatomically structured?
  • How does toothache develop, and what can you do to prevent it?
  • What role do bacteria play in the development of tooth decay?
  • What do you have to consider when treating your first patient?
  • What is recommendable for bleeding gums?
  • How can you treat without pain?
  • How do you remove a patient's fear of drilling?

The subject suits you,...

...if you are interested in science and have a talent for craftsmanship. Dentists need to be sensitive, because "patients see the oral cavity as an invasion of privacy," says Luthardt. As in all health professions one must want to help, even if a patient, for example, has bad breath. You should be able to structure your day well enough to do the lectures, treatment and lab courses - around 40 hours a week. The students have to learn a lot by heart. Other than that, studying is expensive: Instruments can easily cost several thousand euros. Some universities provide some of the equipment. Incidentally, two-thirds of the students are women, slightly more than in medicine.

Is there a numerus clausus?

The numerus clausis usually is in the highest graded area. The approval is currently being reformed.

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