Dentist - How to Become a Dentist

Dentist

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Dentist Job Description

 

Dentists diagnose and treat conditions affecting the mouth, teeth and gums. Dentists provide preventive care and oral hygiene advice along with performing root canals, implants, extractions, bridges, and inspections. They use x-rays and examinations to diagnose issues. Dentists use specialized equipment to treat a multitude of conditions and some specialize in certain areas of dentistry to better treat patients. 

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Responsibilities

 

Most dentists practice general dentistry. General dentists treat all patients in many different settings and are responsible for the following duties:

  • Use techniques and equipment to examine the head and neck and oral cavity to identify and diagnose oral conditions and determine oral health.

  • Use specialized diagnostic techniques to identify diseases of the teeth and oral cavity tissues. 

  • Restore and replace teeth damaged by decay, trauma or disease, with implants, crowns and bridges.

  • Perform corrective surgery on gums to treat gum disease.

  • Extract teeth when necessary.

  • Eliminate pain from oral diseases, conditions, and trauma, with medicine.

  • Correct the position of teeth to improve chewing, speech, and appearance.

  • Oversee the business side of private practice and supervise staff.

  • Evaluate the overall health of their patients.

  • Provide instruction and advice on oral health care and preventive measures.

  • Provide instruction and advice on oral health care, including individualized diet analysis, brushing and flossing techniques, the use of fluoridated products and other specialized preventive measures.

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Skills

 

Communication

Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas about patient issues. Teach patient about preventative measures and be transparent about their oral health. 

Monitoring

Monitoring/Assessing patient to make sure they respond well to treatment and make improvements or take corrective action when necessary. 

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Trustworthiness

Must be trustworthy because you are guardian of people's health. You have a responsibility to ensure the correct treatment and diagnosis of patient and must be able to see it through.

Detailed

Be meticulous in your work. Work on small things like teeth and in small areas, so you have to be careful about your tasks. 

Leadership

Must be able to oversee business tasks and manage employees as dentists mostly own their practice. 

Dexterity

Must work well with your hands, as they are your main tool for your job and you work in small spaces (the mouth). 

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Working Conditions

 

Many Dentists own their practice, so they enjoy autonomy and comfortable working conditions. Most have normal work schedules and regular hours at about 40 a week. Many have the flexibility to chooses the number of hours they work. 

They work closely with people every day and usually oversee other employee tasks. Their environment is usually an indoor office and they usually wear a lab coat, gloves, masks, and safety glasses. They also work around radiation since they X-ray patients, which means they have the risk of that exposure. 

 


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How to Become a Dentist:

 

The D.M.D. and the D.D.S. are dentist degrees that are awarded to students upon completion of dental programs. While many graduates enter general practice after graduation, some choose additional education in a residency program or a specialty area.

Whatever route, you must first get an undergraduate degree, followed by dentistry school, and then get your license. 

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

You have to get your bachelor's degree if you want to go to dentistry school. Some dental schools will let you finish out your undergrad study in the program after about 2 or 3 years of college. There is no specific pre-dental major, but it wouldn't hurt to take a pre-med major as it will give you the prerequisites in biology, chemistry, math, and physics you need for dentistry school. A pre-med major could look like the following:

 

Grade Level

Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • General Chemistry I & Lab

  • General Chemistry II & Lab

  • Biology & Lab

  • Calculus I

  • English 101

  • English 102

  • Humanities Requirement

  • Physics I & Lab

  • Physics II & Lab

Sophomore Year

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab

  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab

  • Fundamentals of Microbiology & Lab

  • Genetics

  • Physiology 

  • Humanities Requirement

  • Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Cell Structure & Function

  • General Virology & Lab

  • Microbial Genetics & Lab

  • Biochemistry I

  • Biochemistry II

  • Physics

  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Upper Level Biology

  • Upper Level Chemistry

  • Upper Level Physics

  • Upper Level Psychology

  • Upper Level Kinesiology 

  • Electives

 

2. Take the Dental Admission Test (DAT)

 

After your undergrad you will need to go to dental school and to do that you need to take and pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT). To get into dental school you need to have a good DAT score, undergrad GPA, interviews and letters of recommendation. The DAT is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability.
The DAT is administered year round.

The DAT is comprised of multiple-choice questions and consists of four tests: 

  • Survey of the Natural Sciences

  • Perceptual Ability

  • Reading Comprehension

  • Quantitative Reasoning

In the DAT, both the U.S. customary system and the metric system (Imperial System, International System) of units are used. 


The test is comprised of the following:

 

Section/Category

 Section Breakdown

Survey of the Natural Sciences

  • 100 multiple-choice questions

  • Tests Genetics, Biology, Ecology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Microbiology

Perceptual Ability

  • 90 multiple-choice questions

  • Test is comprised of six subtests: 1) apertures, 2) view recognition, 3)

    angle discrimination, 4) paper folding, 5) cube counting, and 6) 3D form development.

Reading Comprehension

  • 50 items

  • The Reading Comprehension Test contains three reading passages on various scientific

    topics. 

  • The reading passages require the ability to read, comprehend, and thoroughly analyze

    basic scientific information.

Quantitative Reasoning

  • 40 multiple choice questions

  • Mathematical Problems

  • Tests your comprehension of Algebra, Numeric Calculations, Conversions, Probability and

    Statistics, Geometry, and Trigonometry

 

3. Earn a Dental Degree (4 Years)

 

Dental school usually lasts four years and results in a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. You need to find a program that is accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation. During the first two years of dental school, students focus on classroom and laboratory studies in health and dental science. Courses may include the following:

  • Oral pathology

  • Periodontics

  • Dental Anesthesia

  • Orthodontics

  • Radiology

  • Pharmacology

The last two years emphasize clinical practice in which students diagnosis and treat patients under the supervision of dental instructors.

 

4. Earn the Required License

 

After dental school you must get your state license. Requirements vary by state, but all states require candidates to pass the National Board Dental Examinations

The 2-part written exam covers dental sciences, ethics and clinical procedures:

Section/Category

 Section Breakdown

NBDE Part I

  • 400 exam items

  • Tests  Anatomic Sciences, Biochemistry-Physiology, Microbiology-Pathology, and Dental Anatomy and Occlusion

NBDE Part II

  • 500 exam items

  • Test is comprised of a Discipline-Based Component and a Case-Based Component

 

Learn more about the National Exam

After the national exam, you have to pass a practical exam given by your state licensing board. Check with your state to determine your requirements. 

 

5. Consider a Specialization

 

While dentists usually go into general dentistry, some choose specialty areas. Post-DMD or post-DDS education options are available to licensed dentists. There are nine specialties to choose from:

  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology,

  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics,

  • Dental public health 

  • Endodontics

  • Pediatric Dentistry

  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology

  • Prosthodontics

  • Periodontics

  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Becoming a specialist can take up to 4 years of additional education and in some cases, will involve a residency of up to two years.

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
Position Summary: A part-time position for a general dentist to provide oral care for adults (over age 21 years) with special health care needs in the outpatient clinic and in the operating room Thoroughly and accurately examines...
12.05.2016
Must be a graduate from an accredited school of dentistry. NC Dental License required.
12.05.2016
May rotate between Southern Pines, Raeford and Troy clinics as needed. Must be a graduate from an accredited school of dentistry. NC Dental License required.
12.05.2016
12.05.2016
- Dentist - UC Medical Center - Dental Center (037347) Job Description Dentist - UC Medical Center - Dental Center(Job Number: 037347) Description Primary Purpose: PATIENT POPULATION - (CLINICAL ONLY) 5% Engages in population...
12.05.2016
Summary: Certified Dental assistants increase the efficiency of the dentist in delivery of oral health care while in the operating room. The dental assistance are valuable members of the surgical team. Duties and Responsibilities: The...
12.05.2016
This position contributes to the nursing assessment by collecting, reporting, and documenting objective and subjective data. This position also participates in the development of the Nursing component of the plan of care at the direction of an...
06.15.2016
This is technical work involving participation in and implementation of nursing care in all settings. The work is performed under the supervision of a licensed physician, dentist, or Registered Nurse. Supervision is frequently exercised over...
12.05.2016
Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
12.05.2016
Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
12.05.2016
Provides leadership to second shift resident counseling staff in absence of the Adult Programs Assistant. Provides direct care services to adult residents and their children. Participates in teaching, coaching, and directing adult women...
  1. General Dentist Brighton, MA Franciscan Hospital for Children
    Position Summary: A part-time position for a general dentist to provide oral care for adults (over age 21 years) with special health care needs in the outpatient clinic and in the operating room Thoroughly and accurately examines...
  2. Dentist Pinehurst, NC FirstHealth of the Carolinas
    Must be a graduate from an accredited school of dentistry. NC Dental License required.
  3. Dentist Pinehurst, NC FirstHealth of the Carolinas
    May rotate between Southern Pines, Raeford and Troy clinics as needed. Must be a graduate from an accredited school of dentistry. NC Dental License required.
  4. Dentist Des Moines, IA Broadlawn's Medical Center
  5. Dentist - UC Medical Center - Dental Center Cincinnati, OH University of Cincinnati Medical Center
    - Dentist - UC Medical Center - Dental Center (037347) Job Description Dentist - UC Medical Center - Dental Center(Job Number: 037347) Description Primary Purpose: PATIENT POPULATION - (CLINICAL ONLY) 5% Engages in population...
  6. Dental Assistant Operating Room Brighton, MA Franciscan Hospital for Children
    Summary: Certified Dental assistants increase the efficiency of the dentist in delivery of oral health care while in the operating room. The dental assistance are valuable members of the surgical team. Duties and Responsibilities: The...
  7. STAFF LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE Cincinnati, OH TriHealth
    This position contributes to the nursing assessment by collecting, reporting, and documenting objective and subjective data. This position also participates in the development of the Nursing component of the plan of care at the direction of an...
  8. NURSE LICENSED PRACTICAL I Whitfield, MS Mississippi State Hospital
    This is technical work involving participation in and implementation of nursing care in all settings. The work is performed under the supervision of a licensed physician, dentist, or Registered Nurse. Supervision is frequently exercised over...
  9. Dental Assistant (Roslindale Medical & Dental Center, 40 Hours,Days) Boston, MA Boston Medical Center
    Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
  10. Dental Assistant (Dental Clinic, Per Diem, Days) Boston, MA Boston Medical Center
    Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
  11. Lead Resident Counselor - House of Mercy- Mercy Medical Center- FT 1.0 (Evening) Des Moines, IA Mercy Medical Center Des Moines
    Provides leadership to second shift resident counseling staff in absence of the Adult Programs Assistant. Provides direct care services to adult residents and their children. Participates in teaching, coaching, and directing adult women...