Dentists are your professional guides on how you can keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Dentists as a career offer stimulating opportunities in a variety of areas- teaching, research, private practice and government agencies and others. The greatest advantage in this career is the ability to help people get the best oral health possible. The satisfaction of knowing that your patient can avoid potential oral health threats is a great contribution to society.
There are 9 different specializations that a dentist can choose from.
Endodontists perform root canal therapy.
Public health dentists work within communities to promote good dental health.
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.
Oral pathologists study oral diseases.
Oral and maxillofacial radiologists use imaging technologies to diagnose diseases in the head and neck.
Role of Dentists
Dentists typically do the following:
• Diagnose and remove decay from teeth and fill cavities.
• Repair teeth and remove teeth and straighten teeth to correct bite issues.
• Apply sealants or whitening agents on teeth.
• Give anesthetics to keep patients from feeling pain during procedures.
• Write prescriptions for antibiotics or other medications.
• Examine x rays of teeth, gums, the jaw, and nearby areas for problems.
• take impressions of teeth in order to make models that will be used to make dentures to replace missing teeth.
• Teach patients about diet, flossing, use of fluoride, and other aspects of dental care.
Skills Required to be Dentists
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
Communication skills: Dentists must have excellent communication skills. They must be able to communicate effectively with patients, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and receptionists.
Detail oriented: Dentists must be detail oriented so patients receive appropriate treatments and medications. They must also pay attention to space, shape, and color. For example, they may need to closely match a false tooth with a patient’s other teeth.
Dexterity: Dentists must be good at working with their hands. They work with tools in a limited area.
Leadership skills: Most dentists work in their own practice. This requires them to manage and lead a staff.
Organizational skills: Strong organizational skills, including keeping accurate records of patient care, are critical in both medical and business settings.
Patience:Dentists may work for long periods of time with patients who need special attention. Children and patients with a fear of dental work may require a lot of patience.
Problem-solving skills: Dentists need strong problem-solving skills. They must evaluate patients’ symptoms and choose the appropriate treatments.
Stamina: Dentists should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as bending over patients for long periods.