Dentist

Pros


  • Helping people with painful dental problems as well as helping to prevent future issues with their teeth.
  • Many dentists are self-employed.
  • Those who are interested in the physical sciences will find dentistry very fulfilling.

Cons

  • You must sociable with people. Many people have a fear of the dentist, and you will need to ease these fears.
  • The job requires a degree of intensity as you will be performing surgical procedures in people’s mouths.
  • Being a dentist requires highly developed manual dexterity.

Overview

Dentistry is the profession of general medicine for the teeth. Being a dentist requires a unique mix of attributes: an interest in physical and biological sciences, good command of instruments with the hands and a personality that is calming and soothing to people. For those who are able to mix these interests and skills together, becoming a dentist is a very satisfying profession.

The work that a dentist does with a patient is to first diagnose the problem that a person has with their teeth. This is usually done through talking with patients, examining the problematic areas and performing x-rays of the mouth. Once the problem is determined, a dentist performs surgical procedures to the teeth and gum structure. This may involve extracting teeth, filling in cavities or performing other more intensive procedures. To perform this work, dentists will use an array of tools to work in the mouth. Often times a dentist will prescribe medication to help with pain management or for post-surgery.

Over a third of dentists work for themselves, usually in a family dentistry business. In their practice, dentists need to employ highly specialized people to work for them such as surgical assistants, hygienists who do routine cleanings and check-ups, x-ray technicians and lab technicians. Being a self-employed dentist requires one to be able to run a successful, often fast paced business. As a result this can be very lucrative. Those who are not interested in this often work for other dentists or in larger organizations, such as the military.

Education

Becoming a dentist requires a lot of formal education after high school. On average, dentists spend about eight years at the university level preparing to become a doctor of dental surgery, often abbreviated as DDS. This includes four years worth of undergraduate study in physical and biological sciences, which may or may not result in a bachelor’s degree. Those who wish to apply to dental school must take the Dental Aptitude test, or DAT, and show academic success as an undergraduate student in order to be accepted into dental school, which is four years of extensive classroom and hands-on training.

Job Prospects

There is growth in the career path of dentistry. But technology and the increase of productivity, along with the influx of people trained to assist dentists have resulted in the field only expecting modest growth. Since dentistry is a highly specialized profession, the prospects are good for those planning on entering the field. This growth will mostly be due to the fact that older generations of dentists will be retiring soon. One thing that is interesting to note is that many older dentists continues to practice after retirement age, often working on a part-time basis for as long as they are capable.

Advancement Opportunities

Advancement for dentists really depends on whether one decides to go into to business for themselves or not. Those who work for others can expect some advancement as other dentists retire or begin to reduce their workload. Those who have their own practices will be able to grow the business and hire others to assist them.