This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. We may add courses that expose our students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning. We may also add content to the general education program that focuses on racial literacy and a racial literacy graduation requirement, and may receive notification of additional program approvals after the launch. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

The Doctor of Dental Surgery is a four-year program in general dentistry leading to the D.D.S. degree and emphasizing study in three broad areas: basic sciences, clinical sciences and social sciences. The academic year begins in July and extends through May.

Student learning outcomes

As a result of successfully completing the pre-doctoral dental curriculum the new dentist will be competent in the following areas:

A. Diagnosis and treatment planning

1. Diagnosis

Assess and diagnose diseases and abnormalities of the oral cavity and head/neck region in pediatric and adult patients. Obtain, assess and properly utilize information relative to systemic health of patients, initiating consultations and referrals to other health care professionals as appropriate. 

2. Treatment planning

Develop a comprehensive evidence-based treatment and/or referral plan(s), based on etiologic factors, current oral disease risk analyses, standards-of-care strategies and biomedical and clinical scientific knowledge. Develop evidence-based treatment plan options to present to patient/parent involving them in the health care decision-making process and obtain informed consent. 

B. Oral health management 

3. Emergency care 

Manage dental emergencies. 

4. Anxiety and pain management

Utilize pharmacological therapies and behavioral techniques to prevent or manage pain and anxiety. 

5. Oral health education

Educate patients, parents and/or caregivers with individualized instructions for improving and maintaining good oral health, monitoring and re-evaluating as necessary. 

6. Oral function

Provide treatment and/or referrals as appropriate with the goal of achieving physiologic form, oral function and health to include the following areas: 

a. Prevention and management of dental caries

b. Restoration of teeth

c. Replacement of teeth including fixed, removable and dental implant prosthodontic therapies

d. Prevention and management of periodontal diseases

e. Prevention and management of pulpal and periradicular diseases

f. Prevention and management of oral mucosal and osseous disorders

g. Management of uncomplicated oral surgical procedures

h. Recognition and management of malocclusion and space maintenance needs

7. Outcomes

Self-assess competency and evaluate the outcomes of patient-centered dental health care. 

8. Community

Engage in community-based disease prevention and health promotion activities. 

C. Practice and profession

9. Ethics 

Apply concepts of professional ethics, health care principles and adhere to the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct. 

10. Communication and behavioral principles

Utilize appropriate interpersonal skills, communication skills, psychosocial principles and behavioral principles in caring for a diverse population of patients and collaborating with other members of the health care team. 

11. Critical thinking

Integrate and synthesize information to advance knowledge and skills through critical evaluation of biomedical literature and the application of new science to patient care. 

12. Risk principles

Apply principles of risk management, quality improvement, infection control and radiation safety to patient care. 

13. Business and legal/regulatory matters

Apply the business principles and programs used in the administration of a dental practice while complying with all regulations, policies and protocols that relate to health, safety and the law.