A career in dentistry may be one of the options available when considering career options. Knowing what a dentist does and what is involved in becoming a future dentist will guide current or future career choices. Additional time to train is also required for dentists who wish to develop their specialisms, which may take considerable time to embark on. This article provides all the information if you have wondered,” How long does it take to become a dentist?”.
What Is A Dentist And What Do They Do?
A dentist is a trained professional responsible for caring for the teeth and mouth. Therefore, it is important to see a dentist regularly to maintain oral health and to ensure that it helps to improve everyday health. In addition, they have different responsibilities, such as promoting good dental hygiene to ensure that any health complications can be avoided from bad dental health hygiene.
A dentist often uses modern equipment such as x-ray machines and equipment such as drills and brushes. They are also required to wear protective equipment such as a gown, masks, and glasses to reduce the risk of spreading bacteria in dental offices. Diagnostic images are also used in dentistry to examine the images further.
Dentistry usually consists of educating people about their own dental hygiene and how it can be improved and suggestions about what toothbrush and toothpaste to use. They may also suggest flossing techniques or the use of an electronic water flosser or like help to improve dental health.
Dentists will fill cavities, remove decay from teeth where possible, repair or remove damaged teeth, review the x-rays and associated images, use sealants and check the teeth’ growth is suitable.
Working alongside dentists are usually dental assistants and hygienists.
To work as a dental assistant in the U.S. requires a high school diploma or GED, and a dental assistant program is required for one year. This dental program is usually completed at a vocational school or community college. It is also recommended that dental assistant completes some voluntary work to build up the necessary experience for their curriculum vitae (CV). A dental assistant will provide a high standard of oral health care and patient care and support during a check-up or procedure with a dentist. Patient records would be held to establish all this vital information.
Hygienist jobs are focused on disease prevention, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a projection that there is a likelihood of an 8.9% employment growth for dental hygienists between 2021 and 2031. This should mean that there should be 19,000 jobs created during that time. Therefore, it may be more beneficial to become a hygienist rather than becoming a dental assistant at a dental college. However, their job outlook is generally good overall with jobs available.
How Hard Is It To Become A Dentist?
A dentist typically works similarly to a doctor in many respects. A dentist is required to complete an undergraduate degree in dentistry and earn a bachelor of science degree, which should encompass science and math.
An admission test is required to enter the profession, and there is a requirement to complete scientific studies and two years of clinical practice.
A dental medicine degree or a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree is earnt, and then there is the requirement to obtain a dental license for dental students.
The dental license is obtained by passing written and practical examinations for use in dental practices.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Dentist?
The educational requirements are usually strict, with a good level of education required, particularly in science and math, to be able to apply to enroll in a dental school program. In addition, they would usually require a science major.
It usually takes 8 years to become a dentist, although there is additional training for those who wish to be specialists after they graduate on time.
Licensed dentists become certified depending on their specialism and must complete a residential dental residency program for 3 years.
The specialization which requires residency includes endodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics.
As with many professions, other professional routes may be taken, depending on the individual. However, a well-grounded education is always a good starting point for a career. The focus here should be on science, math, and English, as they are the fundamentals required.
Different Dentist Specialties
Many different dental specialties can be explored later. There are 12 main dental specialties. In addition, dental specialists receive specialized training after they graduate from dental school. These specialists are recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards (NCRDSCB) to protect the public and improve the quality of care.
Here are some of the different dentist specialties that can be considered.
General Dentistry – Most common
General dentistry is whereby primary dental care is provided. This includes the diagnosis and treatment of oral health. In addition, care is provided for oral health, and some of the services that a general dentist can provide include fillings, gum care, root canals, and crowns, among others.
Clinical dentistry involves studying medical procedures and how they can be implemented. They are performed in a dental clinic with a staff of dentists and other assistants.
A healthcare professional or dental health professional can be termed a dental nurse, dental technician, dental hygienist, and dental therapist. These other roles can be explored without wanting to become a dentist. These allow for additional options and opportunities to be considered.
Pediatric Dentist – Kids
A dentist can be ‘kid friendly,’ but specialist pediatric dentists can offer more dedicated services to children. The age range usually ranges from infants to teenagers. In addition, pediatric dentists will have more specific experience and tailored qualifications to meet the needs of children in terms of their teeth, gums, and mouth.
Children require early childhood intervention to ensure that their dental care and treatment are of a high standard to prevent pain and complications later in life. Unfortunately, there is a staggering statistic that children between the ages of 5-11 have at least one untreated tooth decay.
Becoming a pediatric dentist requires attending dental school for at least four years. Two years of residency training in dentistry is also necessary for all children, including children with special needs.
Pediatric dentists provide infants with comprehensive health examinations and preventive dentistry treatments for dental care. These treatments usually include some cleaning and fluoride treatments. A pediatric dentist can also advise on some habits infants may form, such as thumb sucking, which can affect their dental health and hygiene.
The dentist will repair tooth cavities and diagnose any oral conditions associated with diseases and diabetes. Other gum diseases and conditions are also managed with some care for dental injuries offered where necessary for teeth that have been displaced, and oral care is poor.
Pediatric dentists practice out of various locations, including clinics, medical centers, and dental schools. It is best to consult a pediatric dentist for young children as they have specially designed equipment for children.
A pediatric dentist can also offer various treatment options and provide the best possible care to children.
The best way to locate a pediatric dentist is through the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website.
Oral And Maxillofacial Radiologist
An oral and maxillofacial radiologist is a dentistry specialty requiring the interpretation of images and data produced in the discipline of radiology. Diseases are diagnosed and managed so that the conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region (face, mouth, and jaw) are addressed in terms of pain management for orofacial pain.
Orthodontists specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, and alignment of teeth. First, abnormalities of the structures can be identified, and skeletal abnormalities observed. Then, the teeth can be straightened; this usually entails using teeth straightening through the bone structure by braces or similar.
Oral And Maxillofacial Pathologists
The discipline of being an oral and maxillofacial pathologist involves the specialty of dentistry and the discipline of pathology. The specific pathology attains to the nature and identification of the disease and how it can best be managed. The cause of this can be investigated and theorized in terms of identification of the cause, process, and overall effect of the disease.
Periodontists are specialists in dentistry and are responsible for diagnosing and treating the soft tissue or gum surrounding the teeth. The bone structures should be supported, and the periodontist will treat the inflammation of the gums and any gum or bone disease accordingly.
A prosthodontist is a dentistry specialty where they can diagnose and treat the oral function of missing or deficient teeth. A prosthodontist can repair natural teeth using substitute material and replace some teeth as necessary. Permanent replacements can also be used for teeth that are missing or for teeth that have been extracted. Permanent replacements include dentures or crowns, which may be referred to as caps.
An endodontist is a specialism in dentistry that is critical in the responsibility of diagnosing, treating, and preventing infection for the pulp or the nerve of the tooth. In addition, an endodontist usually performs a root canal.
A root canal treatment is a dental procedure required due to an infected tooth or a tooth that may require extraction. The process involves removing the inflamed pulp and cleaning and disinfecting the tooth. Once this process has been completed, a filling can be made to seal the treatment.
Other Roles In Dentistry
Other roles in dentistry are more specialist, and these are explored in more detail to explain the different features and what is required. In addition, research can be conducted to determine what further training could be completed, although it is very dependent on location and the exact requirements of the dentist.
This is different from orthodontics, as dentofacial orthopedics involves the aspect of facial development and growth. A child can be examined, and their growth monitored to determine when treatment is likely to be most effective. Treatments are designed to align the jaw so it has the correct placement and can grow to form the proper alignment. This is easier to achieve while the jaw bones are still being developed and the bite for teeth can be aligned. Skilled dentofacial orthopedic specialists can create treatment plans to better diagnose misalignments in the teeth, jaw, and facial structure.
Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeon
This is a specialty of dentistry for the surgical treatment of diseases, defects, and injuries that have occurred in the maxillofacial region. Surgery may be required on patients who have suffered tumors within the jaws and require some interventions.
A dental anesthesiologist is a dentistry specialist who manages a patient’s health during procedures. For example, the patient may be in pain, so they would need to have some treatment to be able to control it, and there may be avenues for research in anesthesiology.
This specialty of dentistry includes treating pain disorders of the mouth, face, head, jaw, and neck.
Oral medicine is the specialty of dentistry specific to the oral health care of patients who require the treatment of medically related diseases that affect the oral and maxillofacial region.
Work can be conducted in public health to help control dental diseases and promote dental health education through community collaboration. This can also include dental research and dental care.
The procedures involved in cosmetic dentistry include straightening misaligned teeth and repairing and reshaping teeth, so they are more esthetically pleasing. In addition, a person’s smile can be improved using dental bonding or fillings by a cosmetic dentist. Therefore, cosmetic dentists are very valuable.
After the deterioration of the teeth after damage and disease, therapeutic techniques can be used to improve the structure and appearance of the teeth for those who have suffered from these types of ailments.
Geriatric dentistry focuses explicitly on the oral health of those who are elderly and who may have medical problems. Therefore, the types of dental decay they will experience will often differ from that of younger people and will likely need more care and attention.
An oral health professional is someone who has the responsibility to ensure that oral diseases are prevented. For example, a hygienist cleans the teeth and checks the mouth for signs of oral disease.
Various State Exams To Become A Dentist
Nearly all states require a degree obtained from an accredited and university-based dental undergraduate education program. In addition, U.S. licensing requires students to pass the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE).
-National Board Dental Examination
The National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) is the national dental examination known for dental students. They are required to have this professional achievement when applying for postgraduate studies after completing a degree in dentistry.
-Dental Admission Test, Also Known As The DAT
The Dental Admission Test is accepted by 66 different dental schools in the U.S. The test is designed to ensure that the dental education provided through the programs has been successfully delivered. In addition, the applicants are assessed based on their potential for success in the industry.
The Universal Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is another test that is used by Medical school admissions teams to help to shortlist candidates that are being shortlisted for interviews. It is not considered an I.Q. test but more of an aptitude test and more a measure of skill than intelligence.
The test is conducted over a 2-hour period, during which the assessment includes assessing the attitude, mental ability, and professionalism of the candidate on application. This is a crucial entry requirement used in conjunction with the candidate’s grades, work experience, and personal statement.
Most universities require the UCAT test, so it is best to check whether the specific university requires it or whether another form of assessment is used.
The UCAT test was devised to ensure that the required skills included communication skills, spatial awareness, and integrity, to name a few.
-Final Clinical Examination
Regarding the examination technique required for a final clinical examination, the patient’s history is crucial to determine what information there is about them. Therefore, the clinical exams should be documented.
The patient should then be examined visually, and an oral inspection should take place to check for any swellings and any need for oral surgeries.
A clinical examination should then be performed to ensure a closer inspection for any issues with cracks or discoloration of the teeth and any missing teeth. The crowns of a tooth can be inspected further, and any tenderness can be determined. Using a solid instrument such as a mirror handle can help use percussion, and tenderness can be revealed.
A radiographic examination will follow as a diagnostic tool. If there is any periapical inflammation, then it can be visible under radiography.
Sensitivity testing is then applied to test the nerves for any stimulation.
These are the following methods that can be applied in testing:
Once caries are excavated, it can be easier to determine the dentin surface to see whether it is vital.
When ice is applied to the tooth, the patient will likely experience a sense of pain for a short duration. Equally, they may also experience some pain as a reaction to heat being applied.
Electric Pulp Testing
The tooth needs to be dry for this testing to work effectively. This can result in false positives. It is rarer for false positives when using mechanical methods.
Therefore, mechanical testing is far more effective, and if there is a carious lesion, the decay can be removed by excavation without anesthesia. If the pulp has any response, then it will soon show as vital. A combination of testing could further be used to determine how viable the tooth is.
A combination of the information initially obtained from the patient and the clinical and radiographic findings will ensure that the diagnosis is based on sound assessment methods to validate dental conditions.
Is It Easier To Become A Dentist Or A Doctor?
If it is a matter of time, it will take longer to become a doctor than to become a dentist. This is because doctors have to have extensive training over many years, and their application of medicine far extends what a dentist does.
A doctor is arguably more trained and licensed as a medical professional, while a dentist is classed more as a medical practitioner with a dental health specialty.
Dentists use different forms of equipment and technology in the course of their work. They also need to consult their dental patients to ensure they have met their dentistry needs.
The working environment differs enormously between the two professions, with a doctor being required to work 8-10 hour shifts day or night. They may also be required to work on call and deal with emergencies. They are likely to need to be on their feet for many hours a day and be able to balance their workload, including giving a diagnosis or dealing with medical professionals they work alongside to ensure the right duty of care.
A dentist is more likely to work daily office hours in conjunction with their patient’s schedules for appointments. They are also less likely to have to attend medical emergencies or be on call. As a result, they may decide to set up their own medical practice and work with other dentists or specialist dentists.
A doctor has many duties to attend to, such as consulting patients, meeting with patients to determine their injuries, and providing advice on how to proceed with the best possible care and treatments. A doctor will also need to contribute towards health care plans and read and interpret results from the laboratory. They should also be on hand to communicate these results and how to proceed with the patient’s family members as required.
Treatments are administered after tests have been performed and decisions made on how long treatment should be for. Follow-up treatments may also be required, and the patient may be referred to specialists as required.
The doctor may also need to put the medical terminology or explanations into simpler terms for the patient and their family to understand fully. But, again, this will require some communication skills to be well developed by the doctor.
The duties of a dentist, however, include performing x-rays, which can be used to identify any pain being caused or any underlying disease. Damaged teeth can be extracted or repaired, and dependent on the severity of the tooth, an extraction may be the only option. Treatments would usually be used to repair unhealthy teeth and the tissue surrounding them.
A dentist must have working knowledge and application of biological sciences and oral sciences.
A dental professional will usually offer recommendations on dental health and how oral hygiene can be improved or maintained over time.
How Long Do Dentists Have To Go To School?
A dental school applicant must have gone to dentistry school for 6-8 years.
Education courses for five years, including one year of internship, are recommended.
How Difficult Is Dentistry School?
It is challenging and demanding to enroll in a program at a dentistry school. However, a degree with dentistry training will undoubtedly put any candidate in good stead for the future.
It can also be stressful, but it can also be fulfilling and enjoyable to study.
The Field Of Dentistry
The dental field is the profession that deals with teeth and their supporting structures. Therefore, the prevention and treatment of oral disease are key, including the soft tissues in the mouth.
Steps To Become A Dentist
There are many steps to becoming a dentist, but the first hurdle is the dental school acceptance rate.
The most traditional type of dental school program is four years long. Students usually spend the first part of their dental degree learning biological sciences. Their dental training would then include learning different functions of the body and the diseases that can exist. There should also be some practical experience that can be gained as part of the degree. Postgraduate education can also be explored once one graduates from the initial degree.
Step 1: Get Your Undergraduate Degree
What Degree Do You Need To Be A Dentist?
The best degree for a dentist is biochemistry, biological science, physiological sciences, and chemistry.
Step 2: Enroll And Pass The DAT
School students will need to enroll and pass the DAT as part of the admission process to be able to apply for dental school.
Step 3: Enroll And Complete Dental School
To enroll and complete dental school, it is required that a pre-health advisor should be seen, and an interview process should ensue.
How Do I Choose A Good Dental School?
An excellent dental school can be chosen based on the prerequisites of the candidate and what they have researched about the school.
A preferred school may be based on location as they can have a lower cost to travel, and it would be more convenient for them to study.
What Are The Prerequisites For Dental School?
The prerequisites for a dental school are to be involved in the job shadows of other dentists to show a continued interest in professional development.
Step 4: Earn Your Dental License
Dental school graduates must earn their licenses before practicing as a dentist.
Step 5: Optional Step – Complete A Specialty Residency
A dentist can complete a specialty residency and deal with actual patients.
How Much Money Do Dentists Make?
Dependent on their scope of practice, dentists can make around $150,000 with a higher ceiling of $210,000. The average salaries of dentists are high, with dentistry placed as one of the top best career options. In addition, some of the specialty dentistry roles can command more salaries due to their specialties.
The job satisfaction from being a dentist and helping clients improve their oral health and hygiene scores highly for a dentistry career.
Is It Hard To Be A Dentist?
It is tough to become a dentist due to the financial implications of studying early on. It can be expensive and laborious, and it can also be very competitive to apply for dental schools. It also requires an enormous dedication to becoming a dentist, which can take between 6 to 8 years to complete.
Is 25 Too Late To Become A Dentist?
The age of 25 is not too late to become a dentist, and there should be no discrimination based on age when applying for dental school.
Is It Harder To Become A Dentist Or Doctor?
Residency programs are demanding as there may be a requirement to work as many as 80 hours per week to complete the necessary training. As a result, dentists can start work more readily and earn even if it is a low starting salary as they would need to develop in their role.
Is Becoming A Dentist Worth It?
Being a dentist brings job satisfaction; if it is a meaningful career, it will undoubtedly be worth it in the long run. In addition, it is a career that offers options to become a specialist and can allow for more developmental training and development for the future in dentistry.
Is There A Lot Of Math To Be A Dentist?
Math applies to this role’s aspects, as it does with many others. But, it may not be as fundamental as it seems, although dentistry requires a certain level of education, including math.
Do Dentists Have The Title Dr?
Dentists have the title of a doctor because the degree they hold has a doctorate, so they are given the name of DDS or DMD, depending on the state in the U.S. DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery, whereas DMD stands for Doctor of Dental Medicine. First, however, it must be distinguished that they are not a medical doctor and should not be addressed as such when using the title Dr.
Can An Introvert Become A Dentist?
As many as 60% of people in the medical field are introverts, with many being dentists. However, as much as they can operate as an introvert in their job role as a dentist, they also have to be mindful that they need to meet the needs of their patients and that this demands more than what an introvert can provide.
Dentists must demonstrate that they can perform to a high standard with a level of care suitable to meet their patients’ needs. They must also ensure that they have excellent communication skills and can work as a team and alongside their colleagues.
Some other trained professionals, such as hygienists, may also be introverted, although it does not mean to say that they cannot be successful in their role. The likelihood is that they will endeavor the high quality and standard of care for their patients, just as much as if they were working in another sector. They should have a high level of professionalism and overall stature.
While working as a dentist can provide a high-paying salary, it can also be stressful. It is perhaps not as demanding and stressful as the role of a doctor, but it still presents its own challenges. It takes some distinct time and dedication to become a dentist. Ultimately, a decision has to be made on whether the time and the expense to study to become a dentist is something that can proceed with and that each step can be taken to achieve it. With it being such a competitive industry, there is the competition to reach the top of the stairs, form a career aspiration, and then see it all the way to fruition.