Careers in Dentistry

    Students: Is a Dental Career for You?

    How To Be A Dentist

    Dental Specialities

Students: Is a Dental Career for You?

Deciding on a career? Consider dentistry. The dental profession allows you to contribute to the health and well-being of others, including changing the way a person looks and feels about himself or herself.

General dentists make up the majority of the 150,000 dentists practicing in the United States and Canada. Most of them have their own practice, and dental practices rank third as a start-up business that is most likely to succeed, according to an article in the July 2002 issue of AGD Impact, the newsmagazine of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

How To Be A Dentist

If you've thought about a career in health care, talk with your dentist, counselor or teacher about the day-to-day responsibilities of a dental professional and the requirements to become one. To begin, you should like science. You'll need biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Additionally the Dental Admission Test is required prior to being accepted to dental school. After graduation from a four-year dental program, it is necessary to pass a licensure exam required by the state in which you wish to practice. Specialization requires another two years of school or a clinical residency program.

"I recommend people interested in the profession talk to their own dentist and 'shadow' them for a few days to learn about what happens day-to-day. I have had patients who have become dentists after talking with me," says AGD spokesperson Sandra A. Kilkuts, DMD, FAGD. "Being a dentist has given me a great sense of contribution to my patients as well as to my community."

Dental Specialities

While the general dentist is the primary care provider for all patients, specialization is also an option. Currently the American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes nine dental specialties.

•  General dentists, the primary dental care provider for all patients, are responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and    overall coordination of services related to patients' oral health needs.

•  Orthodontists improve patients' smiles by straightening crooked teeth and misaligned jaws with the use of braces and other    appliances.

•  Oral and maxillofacial surgeons care for patients who experience problems with the jaws and facial structures. This includes the    extraction of teeth, removing tumors and cysts, treating facial injuries and trauma, correcting improper jaw alignment and    reconstructive treatment, i.e. dental implants.

•  Periodontists care for patient's gums and other tissues that support the teeth.

•  Pediatric dentists treat the overall oral health needs of children.

•  Oral pathologists examine and diagnose tumors and lesions of the mouth.

•  Endodontists treat inner tooth structures and perform root canals.

•  Public-health dentists work mostly with government agencies to address the complex issues of treating and educating groups that    do not enjoy regular access to a dentist, such as people with special needs, the impoverished and rural Americans.

•  Prosthodontists specialize in the restoration and replacement of teeth.

•  Oral and maxillofacial radiologists produce and interpret images and data to diagnose and manage diseases, disorders and    conditions through traditional X-rays, digital radiography, computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging    (MRIs).

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Original content of this reprinted with permission of the Academy of General Dentistry. © Copyright 2007-2009 by the Academy of General Dentistry. All rights reserved. Read the original article here.