So What Do Dentists Do?

Today, there are many different kinds of medical professionals available whose job it is to keep us healthy for as long as possible. One of them is a dentist. A dentist is a medical professional that the people see on average of twice a year for general teeth cleaning as a preventative measure against gum disease.

What do dentists do? Here are some questions and answers on what dentists do and other facts about the professionals.

What is a dentist?

He or she is a medical provider who diagnoses, treats and manages the comprehensive health of a person’s teeth and gums and the health of the teeth and gums in relation to a person’s overall health. They work with children, teenagers, adults, and seniors. He or she will make it a goal to ensure that a patient is taking care of his or her teeth and gums properly by giving advice and counsel on how to prevent problems associated with teeth and gums.

Although a dentist can do routine cleanings every six months, more and more the bi-annual routine cleanings are left to a dental hygienist who works in the dentist’s office. Therefore, in many cases, a dentist is focused on more advanced work such as caring for the gums, root canals, crowns, veneers, fillings, bridges, teeth extractions, examining x-rays, and more. Because they are medical doctors, they can write prescriptions for medications, such as antibiotics.

How much do they earn?

As with most medical professionals with advanced degrees, the earnings for a dentist can be high. In 2017, the median pay for a dentist was a little over $158,000 per year, which breaks down to approximately $76.00 an hour.

What is their education?

A dentist must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program. After he or she receives an undergraduate degree, he or she must attend a four-year professional dental school program. The Dental Aptitude Test or DAT must be passed to attend dental school. At most schools, observation of a general dentist is required of at least 100 hours during the four-year program. Upon completing the program, he or she will obtain either a DDS, which is a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a DMD, which is a Doctor of Medical Dentistry. The two are equivalent, and which one is given depends on the school. After dental school, a licensing examination must be passed.

Are their specialties?

After the basic training of becoming a dentist, the professional may choose to undertake additional training to specialize in an area. Examples of these specialties include Orthodontics, Endodontics, Oral Surgery, and more.

What kind of equipment do they use?

When a patient visits a dentist office, they will find a dental chair, a tray of equipment, and other objects. Dentists wear masks, gloves and sometimes safety glasses to protect themselves but to also protect the patient. They use a wide variety of tools including drills, mouth mirrors, forceps, probes, brushes, scalpels, etc. Large machines include x-ray machines, digital scanners, lasers, etc.

Where do they work?

A dentist can work in a variety of environments. Some work in clinics as well as nationwide chains. Others have opened their own practices either working alone or with a small staff. Some dentists work with other dentists in a partnership or work for more established dentists in an associate compacity.

How many hours do they work?

Typically, a dentist will work four to five days a week, including some weekends and some evenings. For dentists who have been working for many years, they are in a better position to reduce their hours than those who are just starting out. A dentist can work in his or her profession past the typical retirement age of 65.

A dentist is a valuable part of society and a necessary medical professional. A person’s dental health is not only important for the health of their teeth and gums but in their overall health. Failure to get professional dental care can result in untreated cavities, gum disease, pain, loss of teeth function, missing teeth, infections and serious illnesses that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. Serious dental disease has been linked to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, and more.

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