Summary The education systems for dentists in Japan and in the United States face several current and future challenges. While there is an increasing demand for new dentists in the United States to this relatively financially rewarding health profession, there is a critical shortage of recent graduating dentists entering full-time academic and research positions at US dental schools. In Japan, while there are more extensive training programs to insure new future researchers and academicians, there is a perceived oversupply of dentists and an attempt to reduce the numbers of new dentists, which in turn discourages entry into dental education programs. Meeting these different challenges in both countries requires developing and reforming dental school curriculums that should be both scientifically and clinically up to date, that will stimulate critical scientific thinking and active life-long learning, and that will encourage students to pursue academic and research careers. In this review, both the common and different strategies developed by dental schools in Japan and the United States to encourage students to apply to dental schools and to pursue academic and research careers are presented, with emphasis on the reform efforts at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU).