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A Career in Dentistry

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Oral hygiene can be defined as the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean in order to prevent oral and dental problems. The concept of oral hygiene is growing and more people become are aware of what it entails and how important it is. Consequently, we see an enormous growth in dentistry, i.e. evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment (nonsurgical, surgical, or related procedures) of diseases, disorders, and/or conditions of the oral cavity and maxillofacial area. An individual practicing dentistry is, of course, a dentist. Dentistry is a branch of medical science requiring careful diagnosis and proper medication. A dentist's primary job is to protect from decay or diseases pertaining to teeth or the oral cavity. With the growth of dental cosmetology in recent years, an important role of the dentist is also aesthetically enhancing patients' teeth.

There are different methods of dental care. These include routine extraction of teeth, filling, fitting dentures, surgery of mouth, replacement of extracted teeth through surgery, cleaning a patient's mouth and teeth, and aligning and straightening teeth. Another method, mostly as a corrective method or to cure of complicated diseases, is dental surgery. Dental surgery is most common for the treatment of dental caries (normally resulting in tooth decay or cavities) or diseases of the gum/ root. Surgery can also be used to treat oral diseases and abnormalities of teeth. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is another specialized form of dental surgery. Diagnosis of a particular disease is usually done at through x-rays and clinical or bacteriological tests.

Besides surgery and treatment, another important job of the dentist is prevention. Dentistry includes prevention of diseases like dental caries through regular oral hygiene, including flossing, scaling, cleaning, and tooth polishing methods.



Another important field of dentistry is cosmetology. This includes repairing and rebuilding tooth structures for aesthetic or functional purposes, aligning and straightening of teeth, correction of misalignment or malformation through braces, or the making and fitting of dentures or false teeth for cosmetic/functional purposes. A cosmetic dental surgeon is also responsible for fitting in artificial replacements where necessary. Nowadays, instead of metal, a translucent teeth-like material is used for replacement and it's often hard to tell the difference between real and false teeth.

Another important job of the dentist entails making people aware of dental care and proper oral hygiene. It is important to make the average person understand that regular dental check-up (at least at six month intervals) are essential for the proper care of teeth. They can also choose to refer their patients to top specialists if and when required.

A good dentist should be able to demonstrate the following:
  • Good diagnostics, i.e. ability to detect diseases.
  • Adaptability, accustomed to the rapidly evolving profession
  • Compassion for people
  • A sense of aesthetic improvement
  • Precision and accuracy
  • Concentration
  • An ability to work long hours
  • A methodical, scientific approach
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to easily socialize with patients and put them at ease
  • Flexibility
  • An aim towards prevention through public awareness
Dentistry can also have a varied number of career options. Dental counselors are appointed as people specializing in oral healthcare by many schools, companies, and institutions. Medical camps organized by non-profit organizations or colleges that perform routine dental check-ups are also a viable option. Dental surgeons are also in high demand as they specialize in a particular field and therefore provide superior and extensive knowledge in surgery. With higher education, a dentist can easily specialize in either oral cancer or denture science.

Other related jobs may be the dental assistant, dental hygienist, dental therapist, and dental technician.

Dental assistants basically assist the dentist to provide more effective dental care. The assistant can rise from doing only the most menial tasks of the dentist to becoming his/her extra pair of hands. They are usually the first or last person the patient sees in the dentist's office.

A dental hygienist is a licensed dental auxiliary who specializes in preventive medication relating mostly to oral hygiene.

A dental technician is basically someone who produces dental appliances such as dentures or crowns or bridges.

A dental therapist is a dental auxiliary who specializes in children's teeth and administering restricted anesthesia.

No matter what the capacity of the dentist or dental assistant, a prior knowledge of medical science and a keen interest in the field is mandatory. It is important to note that a dentist cannot practice without proper license in all countries. Generally, to become a dentist one has to earn a degree in one of the following: Doctor of Dental Surgery, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Bachelor of Dentistry, Bachelor of Dental Science, or Bachelor of Dental Surgery. In most western countries, to become a qualified dentist one must usually complete at least four years of postgraduate study. Generally, two years of clinical experience working with patients in an educational setting is also necessary.

Research has shown that the standard income of a general dental practitioner is approximately $174,950 in a year while a specialist’s average income was found to average around $291,250 per year. A dentist hygienist’s usual pay is around $28 per hour and an assistant dentist’s fees are $15 per hour.

There is an increasing growth in the dentistry or the dental assistant sector due to a growth in cosmetology, an awareness of the importance of good oral hygiene government sponsored or subsidized dental hygiene programs and more and more companies offering dental insurance. This has consequently lead to an increase in dental assistant training courses across all educational institutions. A sweeping change in the technology that changes the face of dentistry today also leads to a growth of the careers of dental assistants and dental technicians. Therefore, a career in dentistry seems promising enough and all dentists in the making surely have a reason to smile!
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