How To Become A Dentist

Why Dentistry
Dentists are oral healthcare professionals who provide dental care to those who need it. One of the most promising professions in the healthcare sector, dentists' work independently or in partnership with other dentists. The profession's future outlook is promising as well; the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 21% growth in demand for these professioanals from 2010 and 2020. This is a faster growth rate than the average for all other professions. In 2010, there were over 150,000 dentists. Their numbers are only expected to grow in future.

What Do Dentists Do?
Dentists diagnose and treat gums and teeth related problems. In addition, they also give advice on diet relating to oral health, and instruction on how to take care of teeth and gums. A dentist, during the course of his/her professional life, will perform the following tasks:

  • Treat the teeth by removing decay and filling cavities
  • Repair or remove fractured or cracked teeth
  • Straighten teeth
  • Examine x-rays of teeth, jaw, gums, and problematic areas
  • Write prescriptions
  • Administer anesthetics during procedures
  • Take measurements and make models for dental appliances like dentures
  • Educate patients on teeth and gums health

Types Of Dentists
While majority of the dentists are general practitioners, some specialize in the following fields:

  • Prosthodontists - replace missing teeth with permanent fixtures
  • Periodontists - treat gums and bone
  • Pediatric dentists - child specialists
  • Orthodontists - straighten teeth
  • Oral pathologists - diagnose oral diseases
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeons - specialize in dental surgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial radiologists - diagnose diseases through the use of imaging technologies
  • Endodontists - perform root-canal therapy
  • Dental public health specialists - educate on dental health with emphasis on prevention

How To Become A Dentist? 
Dentists are graduates of accredited dental schools and are licensed in their state to practice dentistry. Enrolling in a school of dentistry can be competitive. An applicant needs to have a bachelor's degree in any discipline (although majoring in biology may help with admission) before being eligible to enroll in a four-year Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) program. He/she will further need to take the Dental Acceptance Test (DAT).

Students of dentistry are well-versed in periodontology, radiology, anatomy, and local anesthesia. Some of the course work may be available online, providing students with an opportunity to learn at their own pace. Students are further required to work under the guidance of licensed dentists, treating real patients in clinical settings. Students who decide to specialize will need to spend more than 4 years in a dental school. Specialized dentists, in addition to their state's dentistry license, will further need to obtain a license in that specialty before being allowed to practice.

Is Dentistry For You?
If you have the following qualities, you may have what it takes to become a successful dentist:

  • Dexterity
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Stamina
  • Patience
  • Organizational skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills

Dentists continue their education through seminars, conferences, or online programs through professional organizations in order to keep up with latest technologies and procedures.

Q:How long does it take to become a dentist?

A:It takes 5-7 years to become a dentist. The time needed to become a dentist depends upon the educational route you pick. In most cases you must spend at least four year in an undergraduate degree program, and a further two years at a graduate college. Apart from this, you may also enroll in a doctoral of Doctor of Dental surgery or medicine degree that can take anywhere between 5 to 7 years to complete.

Q:What education is needed to become a dentist?

A:To become a dentist, you must complete college education and necessary training for the field. The first step is to complete undergraduate studies from an accredited college. The next step is to take the Dental Acceptance Test (DAT) as dental colleges require DAT scores for admission. You can then pursue a dentist degree and learn about oral health. The educational requirements for this field may vary from state to state.

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