Dentists diagnose, prevent, and treat problems with teeth or mouth tissue. They remove decay, fill cavities, examine x rays, place protective plastic sealants on children's teeth, straighten teeth, and repair fractured teeth. They also perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum diseases. Dentists extract teeth and make models and measurements for dentures to replace missing teeth. They provide instruction on diet, brushing, flossing, the use of fluorides, and other aspects of dental care. They also administer anesthetics and write prescriptions for antibiotics and other medications.
Dentists use a variety of equipment, including x-ray machines; drills; and instruments such as mouth mirrors, probes, forceps, brushes, and scalpels. They wear masks, gloves, and safety glasses to protect themselves and their patients from infectious diseases.
Most dentists are general practitioners, handling a variety of dental needs. Other dentists practice in any of nine specialty areas:
Orthodontists, the largest group of specialists, straighten teeth by applying pressure to the teeth with braces or retainers.The next largest group,oral and maxillofacial surgeons, operates on the mouth and jaws.
The remainder may specialize as pediatric dentists (focusing on dentistry for children)
periodontists treat gums and bone supporting the teeth.
prosthodontists replace missing teeth with permanent fixtures, such as crowns and bridges, or with removable fixtures such as dentures.
endodontists focus primarily on root canal therapy.
public health dentists promote good dental health and prevention of dental diseases within the community
oral pathologists study oral diseases
oral maxillofacial radiologists diagnose diseases in the head and neck through the use of imaging technologies
Dentists work in an office or clinic. They usually spend a significant amount of time standing and using equipment with thier hands. Good manual dexterity is helpful. They may work Saturdays. Typically they work 10 hour days 4 to 6 days a week.
Training and Qualifications - what you have to do to be a Dentist
Dentists are healthcare practitioners who specialize in oral health. The general dentist usually has a baccalaureate degree with a heavy emphasis on chemistry, biology and physiology followed by a four year program which leads to a Doctor of Dentistry degree. They usually diagnose and treat basic diseases of the mouth such as gum disease and tooth decay. The procedures performed by a general dentist include caps, fillings, basic extractions and dentures. More complex procedures such as braces and oral surgery are usually referred to an orthodontist or an Oral Maxillofacial surgeon.
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Licensing and Credentialing
In all 50 states and the U.S. Territories the practice of dentistry is regulated. The usual method to be a credentialed and licensed dentist is:1) Possess the amount of training and/or a degree from an accredited school of dental medicine
2) Pass a national exam
3) Apply for licensure in the state you wish to practice in. Significant Points
Most dentists are solo practitioners.
Dentists usually complete at least 8 years of education beyond high school.
Employment is projected to grow more slowly than average, and most job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of dentists expected to retire.
Job prospects should be good.
The management of a dental practice requires the same skills as for a small business; accounts receivable, hiring employees, and business overhead are just a few of the many details that will have to be dealt with.
Dentists in private practice oversee a variety of administrative tasks, including bookkeeping and buying equipment and supplies. Included in the dentist job description is the ability/need to employ and supervise dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians, and receptionists.
Advancement - chances for promotion
The majority of dentists are engaged in private practice. Unless they work for a major corporation or form a group practice promotions and advancement will be limited. Increases in salary will come from raising their fees and/or passing on rising costs to the consumer. For those who are employed advancement will vary depending on the size of the organization.
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