Dentists are full-time professionals who keep their patients’ teeth and gums healthy through preventative visits, cleanings and treatments. They also play an important role in research to find better ways to diagnose and treat oral diseases and conditions.
In addition to practicing dentistry, dentists run dental offices and clinics; manage their businesses; hire and supervise support staff; and provide education and advice about Linkcentre info oral health care for children and adults. They may also be involved in a variety of social work and community service activities, such as giving free dental screenings or helping low-income families obtain medical and dental insurance coverage.
A dentist’s typical day includes providing emergency and comprehensive multidisciplinary dental care; treating medically complicated cases involving the mouth and jaw; and coordinating with other health care providers. They must be able to communicate with patients, explain complex procedures in an understandable way and educate patients on how to maintain good oral health.
Most states license dentists to practice in their field, and most require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree and pass a rigorous national written and clinical exam before being allowed to work. After earning their license, many dentists specialize or continue their education through a fellowship program.
High school students interested in becoming a dentist should take as many science classes as possible to ensure they have the necessary prerequisites for college-level courses. They should also start thinking about dental school early and consider volunteering or shadowing in a local office to gain hands-on experience and learn more about the career. During this time, they should also prepare to apply to dental school by taking the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and working on letters of recommendation and a personal statement.
Dental schools are very competitive and often require at least a bachelor’s degree, but some offer accelerated programs that allow students to enter after three years of undergraduate studies. Some dental specialties also require a two- to four-year residency in which they learn their craft under the guidance of an experienced physician.
After completing their training, dentists must take and pass a state or regional clinical licensing examination. They must then meet continuing education requirements to stay current with new scientific and clinical developments. Dentists are typically members of one or more of the dental academies and often commit to the academy’s code of ethics and treatment standards. Some may also belong to professional associations or societies that help set standards and guidelines for the profession, such as the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry or the International Dental Association. However, these academies do not regulate dentists in the same manner as state licensing boards.