Dentists play an important role in society by improving both health and appearance, and the average dentist salary is in the top 5% among U.S. households. A degree in dentistry usually requires four years of dental school backed by a four-year bachelor's degree. Dentists do not have to select any particular major in college, but some preparatory work is required before entering dental school. In the area of mathematics, two semesters of calculus is recommended. To take calculus, it is necessary to take college algebra as well as trigonometry.

College Algebra

College algebra is an introduction to mathematics as a logical system. Logical reasoning is used to study topics such as algebraic expression, functions and theory of equations. Other topics in college algebra include radicals, complex numbers, quadratic equations, absolute value and polynomial functions, synthetic division, the remainder, factor and root theorems, linear-quadratic and quadratic-quadratic systems, determinants and Cramer's Rule, and systems of linear inequalities.


Trigonometry is a branch of mathematics that looks at angles, circles, oscillations and waves. It is used in many areas of science and mathematics, including physics, geometry and calculus. Areas studied in trigonometry include sine, tangent, secant, cosine, cotangent and cosecant. Other important topics in trigonometry examine complex numbers, polar coordinates, De Moivre's Theorem, the Pythagorean Theorem and Euler's Formula.


Calculus has two primary branches: differential and integral. Differential calculus looks at the rate of change when provided with a function. Integral calculus examines the system when provided with the rate of change. Calculus focuses on determining precise mathematical answers to things that are constantly changing. Using calculus, you can figure out that approximations tend toward the precise end result, called the limit, until you have accurately described and reproduced the curve, surface or solid.

Using Math as a Dentist

Dentists make precise measurements and need to understand how to convert one type of measurement to another. Angles are measured in the mouth to determine the correct size and fit of dentures or crowns. Measurements are needed to fill cavities and do root canals so that damage does not occur during those processes. Dentists also calculate the space and size of teeth and count teeth to determine whether they need work done to them.