Dentistry – A Career for the Future

Dentistry offers many opportunities, challenges, and rewards. It is a rapidly changing and expanding profession. The Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) is a member of the primary healthcare professions on the front line of disease prevention, intervention and wellness promotion.

Dentists are often the first health care professionals to recognize and identify a wide variety of diseases, ranging from hypertension to oral cancer. They diagnose and treat problems affecting the teeth, gingival tissue, tongue, lips and jaws. These oral diseases often reveal other health issues that may require a follow-up with the patient’s primary physician.

In the modern era of health care, dentists utilize new and advanced technology such as computers, digital radiography, cone beam computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging in diagnosing patients.

Dentists provide services that improve patients’ appearance and self-confidence through a wide variety of cosmetic dental procedures. These services can make patients feel better about their smiles. To repair, restore and maintain the dentition (teeth), gingival (gums) and oral tissues that have been lost or damaged by accidents or diseases, dentists perform trauma surgery, dental implants, tissue grafts and laser surgery.

The work of a dentist extends beyond the dental chair. Patient education is as important as the actual dental procedures as dentists teach good oral habits to promote good health. Dentists educate the public on the importance of oral health and disease prevention. They interact with people of all ages, cultures, and personalities. The dentist’s typical day is diverse and interesting.

A good dentist also possesses creative talent. Dentists are artists and in order to brighten one tooth or realign an entire jaw, dentists must have the artistic sense to envision the aesthetic end-result to help their patients look their best.

Dentists provide an essential health care service. They are highly respected within the community. Dentists are skilled, conscientious, civic-minded individuals who work with community leaders, educators, other health professionals and government officials. They often volunteer services to school health programs, the elderly, handicapped or disadvantaged citizens, and non-profit organizations demonstrating a selflessness that is a hallmark of professionalism

Dentistry allows you to be your own boss. Dentists can balance their personal and professional lives to meet their individual needs and desires. Dentistry provides opportunities in a variety of private and public settings including private practice, teaching, research, public health, and administration.

The average income of a dentist is in the highest 8 percent of U.S. family income. The demand for dental care will continue to grow. The number of older adults who are keeping their teeth longer is increasing. People are more aware of the importance of regular dental care and therefore more dental services are required. Geriatric dental care and the greatly increased demand for newer services, such as implant cosmetic dentistry, will also contribute to this growth of the profession.

A career in dentistry is personally fulfilling. To serve the present and future oral health needs of their patients, dentists enjoy the challenge of a lifetime of learning. Today’s dentists are at the cutting edge of modern technology, making the practice of dentistry even more exciting and rewarding.

Opportunities for Minorities and Women

Dentistry offers minority students exceptional career opportunities. The need for dentists from minority groups is very strong. Dental care may be accepted more readily when the dentist has knowledge of the patient’s language and insight into their cultural background. Career opportunities for women in dentistry are also particularly prosperous at this time.

The Dental Specialties

There are more than 200,000 active dentists in the U.S. today. Most dentists practice general dentistry, giving them the capability of providing comprehensive care to a wide variety of patients. Some dentists choose to limit their practices to one of the twelve recognized dental specialties. A specialty is an area of dentistry that has been formally recognized by the American Dental Association as meeting the Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties and National Certifying Boards for Dental Specialists. The twelve recognized dental specialties are: Dental Anesthesiology, Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Oral Medicine, Orofacial Pain, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics, and Prosthodontics.