Dentists are needed every now and then; their services remain one of the essential ones in the health market. With each passing day, the dentistry field keeps recording improvements, as many more people are concerned about their oral health, and want to get the best care.
Yet, before you finally decide to become a dentist, and make it your right career path, here are some of the important things to note that will help you get the best out of this medical field.
What is Dentistry?
The human mouth is one of the essential parts of the body. Hence, the treatment and prevention of infections and disease in the mouth or oral area are referred to as Dentistry.
Dentistry requires the skillful combination of several roles and tasks at a time. This often includes the service of the dentist, and other companions like dental hygienists, assistants, nurses, therapists, and technicians.
Dentistry is closely related to courses like:
- Clinical dentistry.
- Pre-clinical dentistry.
- Clinical Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry.
Should You Study Dentistry?
This question might sound weird, isn’t study about what I love you’ll ask? While this statement is true, there are some factors to ponder on when making this decision.
There are several endearing things about this medical and professional field of dentistry. For one, you are improving your life personally and striving to improve the life and health of others with your services.
With a Dentistry degree, you can easily practice at local surgeries dedicating at least a full year to working practices.
The fact that a professional dentist’s pay is high, and job security is also high, makes it more interesting for those who want to become professionals in the dentistry field.
Points to Note Before You Study Dentistry
The Dentistry field is a blossoming field, so if you are picking a career in dentistry, you are making a good choice.
But what kind of education are dentist professionals subjected to? Perhaps you are just interested in knowing what happens behind the scene in the dentists’ world?
Here is the right spot to find satisfying answers to your questions about the field of dentistry. The reward of entering this medical field is wonderful; you get to learn consistently, you improve the lives of others, and help people to better oral health regularly.
Below are some of the basic career paths in dentistry that you should know, the benefits of the dentistry field, the challenges of these fields, and tips to help you successfully become a dentist that offers the best services.
1. What are the Career Options in Dentistry?
So, what happens in the professional dentistry field? That will be the first point we’ll discuss in this section.
In any dentist office, you walk into; there are several roles occupied by different people at every given time, that is excluding the dentist themselves.
The roles of dentists are very similar to that of the conventional family doctor; their goal is to help improve your overall oral health rather than focusing on just a single aspect.
Dentists are those that have graduated with a doctorate from a registered dental school and given the license to practice as a dentist or to practice dentistry.
The major focus on dentistry is based on the health management and prevention of dental diseases. This calls for regular and frequent checks for signs and symptoms of dental issues in patients which may include those linked to the mouth, cranial (head), neck, or lymph related health issues.
Dentists are also the ones responsible for carrying out all dental processes which span across, and beyond the cleaning process and routine.
General dentistry is just the start of other wonderful opportunities available for dentists after complimenting their basic course, and another additional schooling in the dental school, and graduating from these courses.
Some of the available specializations include:
- Orthodontics — a field that often deals with the alignment of the teeth and the jaw.
- Periodontists — a field that deals with the gum, and other supporting structures of the mouth.
- Oral Maxillofacial surgeon — this is another specialization that deals with the mouth, face, head, and neck bone surgeries and reconstructions. A person visiting a maxillofacial surgeon is probably battling with a significant dental issue.
- Cosmetic dentistry — this is another field that is popularly referred to as aesthetic dentistry. This field deals with the appearance of the teeth, gums, and bite. This is often explored by those who seek to improve the general look of their mouth, and it can help boost their self-esteem, and get rid of injuries, or other natural deformation and development that does not look nice aesthetically.
2. Support and Associated Positions
The truth is, there are some support services in dentistry that do not require a doctorate in dentistry, yet they are very important in dentistry practices.
One such is dental assistants who help in caring for the instruments, sterilizing them, leading the patients to the examination room, introducing them to the procedure, taking photographic images of the mouth (x-ray), and the look of the patient’s teeth, etc.
Dental hygienists are another important support staff that does more than dental assistants. Their activities involve routine cleaning of the mouth, searching for decay in the mouth, and identifying other diseases. It is very easy to mistake a Hygienist for a dentist due to their wealth of understanding, and their competency when it comes to handling dental related issues. They are expected to see more of the actions when it comes to cleaning orally.
Dental receptionists are another important support staff in the dentist’s office. Without them, it will be hard for dentists and other staff to carry out their activities.
While they are not expected to have any formal education in the dentistry field like other support staff, they are billed with the task of understanding several aspects of activities that go on in the dentist’s office.
When you call to schedule an appointment in the clinic, or you want to get an appointment reminder or require other information regarding insurance and general dental activities, you can always count on the receptionist to help deliver this information. When kind and gentle, you get to enjoy their services more.
The dental laboratory technician is another important professional in the dental lab that manufactures and provides the needed tools for patients based on the recommendation from a dentist. They deliver appliances like mouth guards, oral retainers, amongst others.
3. Being a People’s Person
Most of the tasks in the dentistry industry involve interaction with people or patients. As such, people or human skill is one of the most important aspects of the industry. The number of clients will increase or decrease, depending on how you handle your patients. As such, your customer service is one of the best decisions you can make; they hold the key to the success of your activities.
Irrespective of the role, or job, the main goal of a dental professional is to ensure that their patients are comfortable, and enjoy their services, confident that the best dental care is what they are getting at all times.
For this to be the case, a dentist and his support staff must have the desire to help others and improve their lives. This desire is a key component of a dentist’s activities.
Dental professionals, due to the uniqueness and importance of their work in improving the health and functioning of their patients, they must have a mind prepared to help them.
They are also expected to exert authority and educate their patients on how to improve their overall oral health.
It is only natural for many to feel uncomfortable and scared when in dental offices, much is expected of professionals in handling their emotions and calming their mind about the services they will receive.
This little factor will influence how effective the treatment will be and how comfortable the patients will also be with the treatment. Trust and level of responsibility is an important factor that must be put into consideration.
4. Dentistry is Super Artistic
Dentistry is a detailed task that requires detailed work of the hand. It takes care to clean in between the teeth of patients, filling cavities, and striving to get rid of stains that are glued to the teeth.
Expertise and paying careful attention to details is required when dealing with oral issues of the patients since there is always a link between oral health and the overall health of the patient. Their work requires tasks similar to the activities of professionals like craftsmen.
Dental appliances used on patients like retainers, and mouth guards are expected to be designed to fit each patient, and as such only dental professionals can handle this task of creation well.
Oral apparatus differs, in design and functions, and what they address is very specific. Only with careful attention can these appliances come out the way the designer desires. Problems solving skills, and careful payment to attention is of utmost importance while working with these instruments.
The drive to find solutions to patient’s oral issues, which may involve designing dental appliances, thinking and designing treatment plans that will suit your patients or other activities that will affect the success of your profession, and make your work more detailed.
6 Steps Involved in Becoming a Dentist
Do you feel dentistry is something you can do already? If yes, you may still be confused about the best way to enter into this profession.
Don’t be confused; here are some steps carefully outlined to help you with your goal. The steps outlined are designed to help you become a skilled dentist.
Step 1 — You Need a Bachelor’s Degree
You heard that right, all you need is a Bachelor’s degree for a start; it does not matter which field you are getting the degree from.
Well, it’s important you know that you’ll need to have basic knowledge of physics, biology, and chemistry, and must have passed them. That narrows the option of degrees down. If your goal is to become a professional dentist in the future, a degree in chemistry or biology is a top option, if not, extra classes will become essential.
Institutions that offer pre-dental programs are another interesting option you have. The program will help prepare you for future study in dentistry, and help you get into the school easily. Tests can be hard if you are not well prepared, but pre-dental training will make this easier for you.
Step 2 — Get Admitted to Dental School
Like other professions, you need to pass the requisite examination (depends on your country and location) to gain admission into dental school. The test will cover courses like biology, chemistry, basic comprehension of reading, and reasoning.
Dental programs are numerous, irrespective of the country you are in; you will always find one that will work for you. Getting one that will tick your budget and schedule is very easy.
Step 3 —Graduate from Dental School
Does this sound too easy? The truth is, you need to work hard and pay attention to details to graduate from dental school. Depending on your location, dental courses can last for four years. Each year, you will be required to build in your residual knowledge, the things you learn in the previous years.
The plan is designed as such; the first two years features instructions that are mixed with laboratory works where your skills will be tested. The final two years feature clinical studies that are designed to help you become more effective as a dental practitioner. These activities will be directed under licensed dental professionals.
Step 4 — Pick Your Area of Specialization
The general plan is to work in general dentistry as a dental graduate, as a graduate, you become more hireable when you graduate from a dental school, and you have an area of specialization. This requires getting additional training which may also include getting a master’s degree.
You are expected to weigh your options early into the course. Options available include orthodontics, periodontics, pathology, endodontics, radiology, amongst others.
Step 5 — Register with the College of Dental Surgeon
Whether your goal is to become a dentist or a dental assistant, you are expected to register legally to permit you to work in your new place of residence. The requirement for registering depends on the location you are working or planning to work.
Step 6 — Find a Job or Start Practicing on Your Own
Private practices are the most popular option among dental professionals seeking a job after graduation. Many who are boxed up financially may also buy pre-existing practices. Some fractions still work within hospitals and regional health units. When you are specialized, it becomes easier for you to get employed. If your goal is to work in genital dentistry, specializing will do you a lot of good.
Many dentists often work as general practice dentists, while few are specialized practitioners. Dentistry will provide you with a profession that will grow over time, change, and help you with your goal of helping the lives of others, and getting the best out to others.
Practicing as a Dentist
The specialties available in the dentistry field are numerous. Some require furthering your education and learning more. Such specialties include oral surgery, periodontists, orthodontics, etc.
If you wish to continue your education as a dentist, postgraduate dental specialty which spans across 2 to 6 years is a good option for you. Some specialties will require you to have at least two years of residency in the desired field.
You can then proceed to get your Ph.D. afterward in the desired specialty or in oral health sciences. With the right degree in your bag already, you’re set and ready to work or practice as a dentist.
Your work environment, when starting as a new dentist, may involve working as an associate either in a private or corporate dental practice.
Successful dentists proceed from this point to start and own their private practice, or they may just partner with other skilled dentists. The salary option is massive and great; the schedule is flexible and makes working easier for you. Depending on where you work, the workdays will differ.
As a general dentist, you will be required to spend most of your time working with dental hygienist when teeth cleaning is done, with the goal of performing a dental examination on the patient, pulling teeth, filling cavities, diagnosing orals health problems, and scheduling a patient for further treatment with a specialist.
Another essential aspect is building a solid relationship with your patients. The more you skillfully interact with them, the better and improve your services will become. You need to sharpen your listening skills to enhance your ability to understand your patients better. They need to trust you and rely on your abilities both for young and old.
Just before you apply for dental school, you need to know if this option is right for you or not by defining your goals. You need to know the requirements and the opportunities that lie ahead of you. Beyond the scope of general practice, your dental degree will offer you more.
Dentistry is also artistic as we have pointed out, and it is a scientific profession. Dentists are expected to pay much attention to details, become skilled and handle jobs well, and work with details irrespective of the procedure involved.
Communication skills must be top-notch; you must learn to interact better with your patients. If you’re not sure that you possess any of these skills, try and identify before you enter into the field of professional dentistry.
The benefits are limitless and depend more on how hard you work, how well you want to succeed, and how much attention you are paying to detail.
This profession is tough, but once you get it right, the sky’s the limit for you. Many have become successful as a dentist; it’s time for you to become a professional dentist too!