Dentist Dentists examine patients' teeth and mouth tissue in order to diagnose and treat problems.
Most are general practitioners, but some specialize by becoming: orthodontists oral and maxillofacial surgeons pediatric dentists periodontists prosthodontists endodontists public health dentists oral pathologists oral and maxillofacial radiologists
Orthodontists straighten teeth using devices that apply pressure, i.e., braces and retainers. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons operate on the mouth and jaws. Pediatric dentists treat children. Periodontists treat gums and the bone supporting the teeth. Prosthodontists replace missing teeth with dentures, bridges and crowns. Endodontists perform root canal therapy. Public health dentists work within communities to promote good dental health. Oral pathologists study oral diseases. Oral and maxillofacial radiologists use imaging technologies to diagnose diseases in the head and neck.
Educational Requirements must attend a dental school that is accredited by the American Dental Association(ADA). To be accepted into one of these schools, one must complete at least 2 years of pre-dental education All dental schools require applicants to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). After graduating from dental school, one must be licensed by the state in which that person wants to practice.
Dental school usually lasts 4 academic years. Studies begin with classroom instruction and laboratory work in science, including anatomy, microbiology, biochemistry, and physiology. Beginning courses in clinical sciences, including laboratory techniques, are also completed. During the last 2 years, students treat patients, usually in dental clinics, under the supervision of licensed dentists. Most dental schools award the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). Others award an equivalent degree, Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).
High school and college students who want to become dentists should take courses in biology, chemistry, physics, health, and mathematics. College undergraduates planning on applying to dental school are required to take many science courses. Because of this, some choose a major in a science, such as biology or chemistry, whereas others take the required science coursework while pursuing a major in another subject.
A day in a Dentist’s Life On a typical day a dentist may remove decay from teeth and fill cavities examine x-rays extract teeth apply sealants to teeth administer anesthetics prescribe medication treat gum disease by performing surgery on gums and supporting bones straighten teeth take impressions of teeth in order to make models that will be used to make dentures to replace missing teeth
A dentist removes tooth decay, fill cavities, and repair fractured teeth.
Work Environment Most dentists are solo practitioners, meaning that they own their own businesses and work alone or with a small staff. Some dentists have partners, and a few work for other dentists as associate dentists.
Work Schedule Most dentists work 4 or 5 days a week. Some work evenings and weekends to meet their patients' needs. The number of hours worked varies greatly among dentists. Most full-time dentists work between 35 and 40 hours a week. However, others, especially those who are trying to establish a new practice, work more. Also, experienced dentists often work fewer hours. It is common for dentists to continue in part-time practice well beyond the usual retirement age.
Salary $$$$$$ The median expected salary for a typical Dentist in the United States is $133,742.
Employment Outlook The employment outlook for dentists is growing through 2012 due to the high number of retiring dentists. This will allow good opportunities for new dentists to begin their own practices or to buy existing practices. The need for dental care continues to increase each year. Because dental care has improved, older Americans are keeping their teeth versus getting dentures. These people will continue to need dental care. Also, with the baby-boomers entering middle age, they will need increasing amounts of dental work to maintain their teeth. Preventative care is still needed by the younger generations. The demand for dental services is projected to be higher than the employment of dentists due to the help of dental assistants and hygienists for basic dental care.
Dental care will focus more on prevention, including teaching people how to take better care of their teeth. Dentists will increasingly provide care that is aimed at preventing the loss of teeth—rather than simply providing treatments, such as fillings. Improvements in dental technology also will allow dentists to offer more effective and less painful treatment to their patients. Today’s dentists are emphasizing preventative care. Their goal is to help people retain their teeth by helping them learn how to care for their gums and teeth. As technology continues to advance, dentists are providing better and less painful treatments.