DENTIST

A dentist has a degree as either a doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.) or a doctor of dental medicine (D.D.M.). Dentists examine and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth, gums, and mouth.  Dentists use many tools such as x-ray machines, drills, mirrors, probes, scalpels and much more to treat their patients. They also educate their patients on proper oral hygeine. Dentists are the major practitioners of dental care and have final responsibility for all dental services.

WHAT IS DENTISTRY?

Dentistry is the health profession that maintains, improves, and corrects the health of the teeth and the supporting oral structures. Dental school curricula are generally four years in length, and admission to dental schools requires a minimum of three to four years of undergraduate college. Dental students interested in going into a dental specialty can expect to spend an additional two to six years training.

There are eight different dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association:

  • Orthodontics – dentistry concerned with straightening teeth
  • Periodontics – dentistry that treats diseases of the gum
  • Prosthodontics – dentistry to make artificial teeth and dentures
  • Pedodontics – dental care of children
  • Endodontics – dentistry dedicated to treating diseases of the dental pulp
  • Oral Pathology – dentistry that involves performing tests to diagnose disease
  • Public Health Dentistry – dentistry in a community clinic or with the federal government
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery – surgery of the mouth, jaws and face

PREPARATION FOR DENTAL SCHOOL

High school students considering a profession in dentistry should enroll in chemistry, physics, biology, anatomy, and mathematics courses. All dental schools require a Bachelor’s Degree and the completion of prerequisite courses, which vary by school. No specific major is required for most dental school programs, however, most individuals who plan to apply to dental school major in a science field, such as biology or chemistry. In addition, the Dental School Acceptance Test (DAT) should be taken by college undergraduates planning to apply to dental school. Most dental school admission commitees use these tests, GPAs, and letter of recommendation when making admission selections.

WHAT WILL I LEARN IN DENTAL SCHOOL?

The dental school curriculum consists of basic science curriculum, pre-clinical courses, and clinical courses. Schools require that their students take classes like local anesthesia, anatomy, periodontology, and radiology. In addition, schools have a clinic where their own students practice their skills and work with patients under supervision.

LIFE AFTER GRADUATION

After graduation from dental school, you need to become licensed in the state you want to practice. These requirements vary by each state, but most require passing a written and practical examination along with the completion of a degree from an accredited dental school.

Dentists usually work full time, however, some do work evening and weekends in order to accommodate their patients. Most work in offices. Earnings vary according to the number of years in practice, but the median annual wage of dentists in May of 2010 was $146,920.

PROFESSIONAL INFORMATION SOURCE:

American Dental Education Association
1400 K Street, NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 289- 7201
www.adea.org