10 Best Pediatric Dentistry Residency Programs in the United States

10 Best Pediatric Dentistry Residency Programs in the United States

Wondering about the best pediatric dentistry residency programs in the United States? With job growth for pediatric dentists expected to increase by 20% between 2014 and 2024 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has perhaps never been a better time for those considering a career in pedodontics. Add to these rosy forecasts the sizeable mean annual earnings associated with the profession (nearly $200,000), and you’ve got all of the trappings of a great career option. Beyond the job stability and financial incentives, however, those intent on becoming pediatric dentists can also delight in the knowledge that they’re providing a truly invaluable service to their community.

Pediatric dentists perform an integral service in encouraging the oral health of children, while also acting as a resource for parents. From the moment that a child’s first tooth comes in at around 6 months of age, it’s absolutely critical that they receive regular attention from a licensed professional to aid in the detection of early onset tooth decay, deter potentially harmful habits, such as thumb-sucking, and maintain a generally positive level oral health.


Working with a team of skilled oral hygienists, pediatric dentists oversee the day-to-day activities of a pediatric office, while also conducting planning for more complex procedures. Responsibilities can include diagnosis of oral disease, interpretation of x-rays or other diagnostic tests, repairing damaged or decaying teeth, monitoring adolescent dental progress, and formulating treatment plans for various stages of oral disease, decay, or development.

Performing these functions requires a very specific set of skills apart from those gained in dental school. For one, pediatric dentists have to be able to effectively communicate with their staff–in order to effectively carry out treatment plans–and with parents, to provide updates on child health and give recommendations for specific at-home care that will promote healthy gums and dental development while preventing the onset of potentially dangerous diseases.

Dentists must also possess immense calm and patience, as working with children in a context that requires their stillness while poking and prodding around using sharp objects can provoke considerable anxiety and fidgeting in patients. The ability to placate unnerved children whilst methodically carrying out oral inspections can ensure that an office doesn’t get bogged down with a potential time-consuming child whose inconsolable nature makes carrying out the appointment exponentially more difficult.

Assuming you have all of these qualities–or believe yourself reasonably capable of acquiring them before you become a professional, the logical step that follows involves consideration of educational requirements. For those that hope to become pediatric dentists, the first step would be to attain an undergraduate degree whose area of focus is in the sciences–ideally with some coursework in psychology or child development. Volunteer work that involves working with children would also be helpful. From there, a post-graduate dental program would be the logical next step, in which a dental candidate can receive the necessary knowledge and hands-on training requisite for a post as a pediatric dentist. There are plenty of programs capable of providing such training, but for those keen on putting themselves in prime position for job placement after graduating from a two-year program, the best bet of doing so is through an esteemed dental school with a renowned pediatric dentistry program.

Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best pediatric dentistry residency programs in the United States, by accessing an exhaustive list that takes into account factors such as acceptance rate, mean GPA of admitted candidates, class size, and average DAT score of admitted students.

With all of that in mind, we present to you our list of best pediatric dentistry programs in the US. If you find this information interesting, you may also want to consider checking out a few supplemental articles regarding the Top 10 Pediatric Residency Programs In America, as well as the top Emergency Medicine Programs in America. That should be enough med school information to keep you busy for a bit. Enjoy the list and don’t forget to floss!

Getting our list underway is the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Renowned as one of the elite dental programs in the nation, UPENN’s school of dentistry enrolls an average of 120 students per year, which represents the 5.2% of the accepted applicant pool. Those students that are admitted tend to have a DAT score somewhere in the neighborhood of 21, and boast an average undergraduate GPA of just over 3.6. A 24-month program beginning July 1st of each year, UPENN’s pediatric dentistry residency program is offered jointly by PENN and the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. The program is heavily clinical in nature and enables residents to work with children that are healthy as well as those requiring special attention. With a program curriculum including case reviews, seminars, oral biochemistry, and clinical microbiology, students in UPENN’s School of Dental Medicine are assured a well-rounded experience featuring in-class and rotational learning.

The University of Florida- Gainesville College of Dentistry has earned a heralded reputation both domestically and internationally. Part and parcel to the school of dentistry’s great reputation is its renowned pediatric dentistry program. With an average class size of 93 students and acceptance rates just south of 7%, getting into Florida’s dentistry school is by no means a walk in the park. For those that are fortunate enough to be admitted, however, the school’s 25-month program offers an array of amenities, including access to all University of Florida Health Center Hospitals, the Acorn Rural Health Clinic, and the Florida School for Deaf and Blind. Beyond this, the school’s curriculum features courses in oral radiology, oral pathology, and biostatistics in the didactic curriculum, as well as hospital-based dental care in operating room settings, emergency dental care, and comprehensive preventative and restorative care as part of the clinical curriculum.


The Columbia University College of Dental Medicine is far and away the most selective of the programs featured on this list. Admitting a miniscule 0.7% of all comers, Colombia keeps its average class size to 80 students in any given year. Those that gain admission to the 24-month program enjoy a joint program that features clinical rotations at New York Presbyterian Hospital with access to the Children’s Hospital, Columbia Dental School, Columbia Medical School, and Columbia’s School of Public Health. Apart from this, residents are immersed in a curriculum that features seminars, conferences, rounds, and didactic learning that covers research methods, clinical epidemiology, histology, and behavior management. With a renowned faculty on hand at all times in tandem with a patient pool teeming with diversity, Columbia’s pediatric dentistry residency program is without question one of the best in the world.

Similar in competitiveness to Columbia is the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. Admitting a mere 3.7% of applicants, Pitt’s average class size rarely surpasses 80 students in any given year. Members of the 2-year residency program enjoy a program that prepares them with the advanced diagnostic and clinical techniques necessary to provide dental care to children and adolescents. The program’s curriculum features a multifaceted approach revolving around clinical research and basic science. In addition to the expected didactic offerings, residents can participate in board reviews, seminars addressing craniofacial abnormalities, diagnosis and case presentation, and an array of other unique course offerings. In addition to a diverse curriculum, Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine also affords students access to the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Among all of the schools on our list, Washington’s School of Dentistry boasts the smallest average class size by far. Admitting just over 60 students per year, the University of Washington offers two unique program tracks that are 24 and 36 months in length, respectively. Like most other programs on this list, Washington’s Health Sciences School of Dentistry residency is a hospital-affiliated program featuring a partnership between the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and the Department of Dentistry at Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH). Located in the Center for Pediatric Dentistry, Washington’s pediatric program affords students access to a facility that boasts three operating rooms, 29 dental chairs, and an infant-toddler area. Those immersed in clinical rounds in the University’s pediatric dentistry program can expect to see roughly 30,000 patients per year.

At the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of average class size is NYU’s College of Dentistry. With an average of 360 students admitted per year, NYU’s is by far the largest dentistry program of any school featured on this list. This, however, does not take away from the quality of the classes by any stretch. In fact, it should be noted that of the 360 students admitted to NYU’s College of Dentistry, only 10 gain entrance to the pediatric dentistry program in a given year. That less than 4% that are fortunate enough to be admitted undergo a two-year program that features a curriculum intent upon providing its students with an analytical and critical perspective in the face of new information. First-year courses include but are not limited to child psychology, community practice, pediatric dentistry diagnostic seminars, and reviews of core techniques. Second-year students enjoy evidence-based studies, clinical sciences seminars, and literature reviews–among other course offerings. With an embarrassment of riches in the way of access to facilities, ranging from the Bellevue Hospital Center to the Rose F. Kennedy University Center, the select students able to earn a residency position at NYU’s College of Dentistry are sure to benefit from one of the most well-rounded pediatric dentistry programs in the nation.

At just under $5,000 per semester in in-state tuition fees, UNC represents one of the best values among all dental schools that offer a pediatric dentistry program. Class sizes are comparable to most other schools, with just over 80 students admitted to the program each year, and test scores and GPAs of newly-admitted students are both above-average at 21 and 3.61, respectively. Students in UNC’s pediatric dentistry program enjoy access to an array of facilities including all University of North Carolina Hospitals, the Gateway Educational Center at Greensboro, the Orange County Health Department, the North Carolina Department of Human Resources, and Cherokee Indian Hospital. Apart from this, UNC’s pediatric dentistry program features wide-ranging offerings, which include education and experience in sedation and anesthesia, research design, and statistics and dental education techniques.

Renowned for its excellent balance between clinical and didactic experience, mentored research experience offerings, and multidisciplinary approach to treatment of complex pediatric dentistry issues, the University of Michigan’s school of dentistry boasts one of the nation’s finest pediatric dentistry programs in the nation. The program’s curriculum features courses in pulp therapy, cephalometric analysis, general anesthesia for children and infants, child developmental psychology, and restorative material and techniques, among others. A 30-month program, which begins July 1st of every year, the University of Michigan Graduate Pediatric Dentistry Program relies heavily on hospital-based clinical rotations at the Mott Children’s Health Center in Flint, Michigan, in conjunction with 12 months of coursework and development of a research project. The program’s heralded faculty and innovative research methods afforded to residents make Michigan’s program one of the best pediatric dentistry residency programs in the United States.


A 36-month program that features academic, clinical, and research-based components, San Francisco’s pediatric dentistry program places a heavy emphasis on basic sciences as they relate to dental care for children. Residents enrolled in the program are afforded access to the UCSF Graduate Pediatric Dentistry Clinic, the UCSF Ambulatory Surgery Center, the UCSF Children’s Hospital, and the Children’s Hospital at Oakland, and enjoy a learning experience which features a balanced offering of lectures and seminars. With UCSF’s renowned faculty overseeing all three facets of the postdoctoral program, residents are assured a unique experience in which they receive hands-on attention throughout the course of their time in the program.

With an average GPA of 3.66 among admitted students and an average DAT score of 22, UCLA’s dentistry program boasts what is arguably the most impressive class of any school featured on this list. Residents in this program fulfill 25 months of coursework, which includes core courses and mandatory instruction in anesthesia. UCLA’s pediatric dentistry program is notably academic in nature, preparing its students for a career as practicing dentists or as teachers of dentistry. In conjunction with the program’s academic component, however, students also carry out clinical rotations in the UCLA Health Sciences Center with additional access to the UCLA Venice Dental Center. With an exceptionally strong faculty and access to state of the art facilities, UCLA’s is unquestionably among the best pediatric dentistry residency programs in the United States.

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