Dental Services

How to Become a Dentist

A dentist is a health care professional who specializes in the oral hygiene and care of teeth, gums and jaw bones. Most dentists have a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) or doctor of dentistry degree (DMD).

Dentist Las Vegas diagnose oral health issues using X-rays, visual inspections and patient histories. They provide preventive treatments like regular cleanings and fluoride treatments to reduce dental decay, gum disease and other oral problems.

Dental school is a lengthy endeavor requiring at least a bachelor’s degree and often four or more years of study. Depending on the dental specialty, additional post-graduate education may be required in order to obtain the necessary skills and experience for practice.

Aspiring dentists should spend time shadowing a dental professional to get a first-hand look at the day-to-day activities involved in this career path. They should also prepare by taking undergraduate prerequisite courses such as a survey of the natural sciences, biochemistry, organic chemistry, physics and English composition. A good grade point average and strong recommendation letters are also needed in order to gain acceptance to a dental program.

In addition to coursework, the majority of dental school time involves clinical study. These classes expose students to a variety of patient cases including children, disabled and elderly patients as well as those with complicated oral conditions. They also learn how to take x-rays and perform other diagnostic tests.

Upon graduation from dental school, aspiring dentists must pass both a national written exam and a state or regional clinical exam in order to earn a license to practice dentistry. In the United States, these exams are conducted by a state board of dentistry, also known as a board of examiners or licensing board. The ADA notes that licensure has three critical components: an educational requirement, a written examination and a clinical assessment.

Some aspiring dentists decide to pursue advanced training by completing a residency program. These programs last 2-4 years and expose them to the specifics of their desired area of dentistry. Upon completion, a dentist is eligible for employment with the board of dentistry in their chosen specialty or general dentistry.

Those who choose to specialize in endodontics, orthodontics or periodontology must complete an additional two or more years of residency work in order to obtain the required skills and experience to become licensed in their field. Specialists are generally paid more than their non-specialist counterparts. However, the extra schooling and training can be a difficult choice for those who are not passionate about their field.

Job Duties

Dentists work with a team of other healthcare professionals, including dental hygienists and assistants. They perform examinations and dental procedures on patients to diagnose and treat various oral health issues. This includes assessing the overall condition of teeth, gums and supporting bones, taking X-rays, and developing treatment plans. They also teach patients about proper oral hygiene practices and guide dietary and lifestyle habits that impact dental health.

A dentist must be able to communicate effectively and keep detailed records of patient interactions and treatments. They must be willing to follow state and federal guidelines and regulations, and they should have a strong understanding of the medical field and healthcare databases. They should be comfortable using a variety of tools and equipment for performing dental procedures, and they must have excellent dexterity in their hands, wrists and fingers to handle the instruments.

There are a number of different specialties in dentistry, each with its own unique duties and responsibilities. Some examples include orthodontics, endodontics and periodontics. A general dentist may provide dental care to patients that includes cleaning, fillings, extractions and other procedures. They may also apply whitening or bonding techniques to improve the appearance of the teeth and gums.

The duties of a dental surgeon are more complex and varied than those of a general dentist. They may perform oral surgery and other invasive procedures, and they may advise patients about preventative measures such as brushing and flossing. A dental surgeon can also help their patients with a variety of cosmetic treatments, such as crowns, bridges and veneers.

A dental surgeon must have a Doctor of Dental Medicine or a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from an accredited dental school. They must also be licensed to practice in their region and have the ability to communicate effectively with patients. They must also be willing to follow all local and national guidelines and regulations regarding dental and health care, and they should be comfortable collaborating with other healthcare professionals. They should also be able to use popular healthcare software such as medical databases, scheduling, billing, e-prescribing and telemedicine applications.

Requirements for Licensing

Whether you are licensed as a general dentist or in another specialty, you must maintain a state dental license to work legally. This requires completing educational requirements, passing a written exam and clinical assessment. Licensing is administered by the state board of dentistry, also known as the board of dental examiners or licensing board. Although the exact requirements vary by state, most states require dental school graduates to pass the Dental National Board Examination (NBDE) or its newer version, the Integrated NBDE. This is a written exam that covers everything from pharmacology to treatment planning, and the results are recorded as either pass or fail.

Once you have passed the NBDE, you may be required to complete a clinical exam, which involves performing procedures on real patients under the supervision of an experienced dentist. In addition, you will need to complete a postgraduate year of clinical practice or an approved dental residency program. Many CODA accredited dental schools offer a condensed postgraduate training program that can help you meet these requirements.

Some states also have other requirements, such as Basic Life Support certification for dentists. In other states, you will be required to pass a written or oral exam to become fully licensed. You will need to research the specific requirements for your state of choice before you begin the licensing process.

Keep in mind that the application process can be lengthy, so it is best to have all of your paperwork organized and ready before you start. Make sure you set calendar follow-ups to ensure that you do not miss any deadlines. It is also a good idea to have all of your documentation in digital format so that you can easily transfer them to another state if necessary. As a general rule, state licensing boards prefer to see your full application before they will review it. You can save yourself a lot of hassle and time by being proactive about this.

Employment Opportunities

Dental careers offer a lot of flexibility in terms of where, how and when you work. According to Cigna, dentists can find employment in private practice, hospitals and clinics, and even in schools and public health agencies. In addition, you can choose to be self-employed and set your own rates and schedules. You can also pursue a specialty in a particular age group, dental issue or surgery and become an expert.

The demand for dentistry services is steady and strong, thanks to a growing aging population and increased awareness of the relationship between oral health and overall health. As a result, you can enjoy career stability and high earning potential.

Many people are interested in becoming a dentist for the social interaction and the warm fuzzies that come with dealing with patients. You get to meet a wide range of people, each with a unique personality and a different story. In addition, the team members you work with are usually a close-knit group that often stays together for years.

Another benefit of being a dentist is that you’re always learning. The field is constantly changing, and you need to keep up with new technology and advancements in materials and procedures. You can continue this lifelong learning with classes and other professional development opportunities.

When negotiating an employment contract as a dentist, consider the total package, including salary, benefits and perks. For example, your employer may provide malpractice insurance, profit sharing and continuing education allowances. These extras can make your job more attractive even if the salary is lower than you’d like.

As a general rule, the most lucrative positions for dentists are in specialty fields. These positions require additional training, licensing and certifications. You can also choose to work as a locum dentist, filling in for a practice that’s looking for a permanent doctor. This is a great way to try out a practice, before making a commitment. You can also find locum jobs on websites that specialize in matching job seekers with temporary assignments. Some sites provide a database of available dentists, while others match you with a dentist based on your location and specialties.