When you are looking at a career in dentistry, there are many different opportunities available. There are things along the lines of more traditional dentistry, such as private practice or today’s newest dental specialists can work in hospital emergency rooms, do advanced laboratory research, go into teaching or travel worldwide with international and relief organizations.
Providing you with an exceptionally rewarding career in the healthcare field, as well as a competitive salary and a wonderful work life balance, dentistry is one of the most growing and promising careers.
How do you get into the field of dentistry?
First, you must choose the right dental school. There are more than 65 dental schools and training institutes in the United States accredited by the ADA’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Each dental program is rigorously evaluated for its content and quality to ensure that all people pursuing a dental career are exceptionally well qualified. Typically, DDS/DMD programs take four years to complete with, but additional years are needed for specialists like Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Pediatric Dentistry.
Admission to dental school is highly competitive, but thankfully, applying is easier than ever before as most U.S. dental schools accept a single online application through the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS).
What careers are available within the dental field?
There are many different careers with many different benefits available in the field, from dental hygienists to a fully certified dentist. While almost all dental positions are well paid, with flexible hours, these are the many pros and cons of the different careers available:
Dentists are health professionals who work specifically with a patient mouth and oral care. Being a dentist means you can help to diagnose and treat problems with their patients’ teeth and mouth tissue. As a dentist, you can be a general practitioner or specialize in a specific area of dentistry like orthodontics, periodontics, endodontics or pediatric dentistry.
With schooling, being a dentist is one of the most rigorous schooling avenues, expect to spend at least six years studying to become a dentist – two of which are college and four of which are at a specialized dental school. If you want to specialize even further, you will need to spend another one to two years a residence in the area of specialization after you graduate. All states require a license to practice and you will have to pass Parts I and II of the National Board Dental Examinations.
A Dental hygienist works very closely under the dentist to provide routine, maintenance and preventative dental care. They spend most of the face to face time with the patient as they examine teeth, talk about improving oral hygiene and performing cleanings – but the duties required vary according to the rules and restrictions of the state they are practicing in. In order to become a dental hygienist, you need to earn an associate degree from an accredited dental hygiene educational program to establish your state license. Requirements differ by state but always include passing an exam such as the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE).
A little different than a hygienist, dental assistants work alongside dentists, performing some patient care, but not the same skilled tasks that dental hygienists are licensed to carry out. They perform much more of the laboratory and office duties are also among their many responsibilities. In addition to providing excellent care, there are many other benefits. In some states, dental assistants must graduate from a one-year diploma or certificate program.
While there are several other supporting roles, such as dental technician or office support staff, the entire office works together to put a smile on your patient’s face, no matter that the task may be.