Dentists are the doctors of oral health care. They are commonly found in private practice, hospitals, and some clinics. They can be specialists just like medical doctors. In addition, they commonly work with assistants, hygienist, and office staff.
What do Dentists do exactly? Dentists assess and diagnose oral health care problems. In addition to diagnosis, they perform care for these patients. This can range from cleaning of the teeth and surrounding tissue all the way to surgery. They fill cavities on teeth with decay and they educate patients on better care that is usually individualized. They also give anesthesia to patients if necessary for effective treatment.
How much do Dentists make? Dentists are not capped on their income like some other careers. While working for another dentist or practice, your salary as a dentist might be limited to a agreed amount. Whats interesting to note though, is that as a private practice owner, you are only limited by your own business finesse (practice management is usually one of the topics in dental school). For this reason, the salary range can be from $45,000 to well above $150,000. I have seen some dentists making around the $45,000 mark and I have seen others pulling in double the $150 range.
How to become a Dentist? Well, your first step is to achieve a bachelors degree. Majoring in biology or chemistry is going to be a huge help to you, but it isn’t a requirement to get into dental school. You just need to be able to score highly on the DAT (dental admissions test) which is mainly chemistry and some biology. In addition to scoring well on the DAT, you have to apply to dental schools and do well on the interviews. They will usually want to see that you have some volunteering work under your belt (any community service type of volunteer work is great, but relating to dentistry would be a huge plus). After you successfully get into dental school, it’s usually a 4 year program. There is only one school that I know that offers an accelerated 3 year program, its University of the Pacific in San Francisco. Upon graduation, you earn your title as a DDS or a DMD, Doctor of Dental Surgery and Doctor of Medical Dentistry respectively. While the titles are exactly the same in regards to what you can do or perform, some schools offer one and not the other title (I know, its strange. Why not make it just one title right?!).
Becoming a Dentist isn’t an easy task. If this isn’t something that your passionate about, your going to have a miserable time finishing your school. Dentistry is something that you kind of need to have an interest for. Becoming a dental assistant first might be a great first step for you to see if you do like this medical career field.