Are you interested in getting involved in the profitable field of dentistry? Helping people achieve their dream smile is a great job for anyone who loves to help and wants to know all about shiny and healthy teeth.
Being a dentist isn’t the only position in the oral health field. There are plenty of careers in dentistry that have all kinds of different job descriptions and required qualifications.
Which one suits you best?
We want to help you decide if there are any careers in dentistry that work for you and your needs. Keep reading for some of the top dental careers and see what calls to you!
When people think of working in the dental field they probably think of dentists first. Most dentists are generalists and will work on a wide range of dental issues. They’re able to diagnose dental problems and perform many different kinds of procedures.
They address basic restorative care such as fillings and root canals and can suggest preventative care measures as well.
Some dentists learn specialties like cosmetic dentistry or even the placement of clear aligners depending on their interests.
A dentist is an upper-level career choice that requires a lot of schooling. All dentists need a doctorate from a licensed dental school and they need to get licensed in the state in which they work. Licensing requirements vary.
Dental assistants work alongside dentists to facilitate their procedures and help the patients. You can think of them as dental nurses. They complete a lot of the prep work before the dentist sees the patient and they’re able to complete small tasks like x-rays, anesthetics, and scheduling.
These assistants might help the dentist during procedures by assisting with the rinse and suction. They have some hands-on experiences with patients and this is a good way to get a feel for the dental field if you’re unsure if going to dental school is for you.
Dental assistants don’t need as much school as dentists, but they do usually need to complete an accredited program, such as the UMA dental assistant training program. They also need to get their certification to be able to work.
Dental hygienists are similar to dental assistants but they do more hands-on work for the patient. They take care of preventative care such as cleaning, examinations, and patient education.
They can diagnose gum disease and recommend patients to specialized dentists. They work under the supervision of the dentist in their office.
Dental hygienists are usually in need of an associate’s degree in their field. Similar to the other careers on the list, requirements for licensure vary by the state that the hygienist will be practicing in.
Periodontists focus on diseases in the gums. They can diagnose and treat periodontal disease. They’re specialists and they’re more effective at this kind of restorative care than general dentists.
Because of this specializing, periodontists complete extra schooling after they graduate from dental school. They need to learn about the structure of the mouth, gums, and teeth and how they relate to gum disease. While this may be covered in general dental programs, to be able to treat periodontal disease they need to become experts in the field.
Becoming an orthodontist is difficult but it’s also incredibly profitable. This is another specialty area of dentistry. It focuses on the alignment of the teeth and jaw.
Orthodontists can treat a wide range of issues, some of which are life-changing to the patients. They learn how to treat common problems like misalignments of the teeth but they’re also able to treat complex jaw and mouth injuries.
For this reason, they may choose not to work in a private practice. They may work in a hospital environment.
Orthodontists, like periodontists, need post-doctoral training. While some dentists offer limited orthodontic work, orthodontists are going to be more effective at even the simplest of tasks.
Whether it’s applying braces or aligners for straighter teeth, or adjusting a jaw or bite misalignment, orthodontists need to know how to handle all kinds of jaw problems.
Oral surgeons are what the name implies: they’re surgeons who work on the mouth and jaw to fix dental problems.
Oral surgeons have all different kinds of tasks. Some complex extractions (such as deep wisdom tooth extractions) are best handled by an oral surgeon. Sometimes root canals also require an oral surgeon if they’re in the molars.
Oral surgeons can also offer reconstructive surgery in the jaw area for any patients who have had major injuries or patients who were born with jaw abnormalities.
Just like orthodontists, oral surgeons may find themselves working in a hospital environment. They can also establish their own private practices or work alongside dentists in dental offices for easy referrals.
Oral surgery is a specialized field so oral surgeons need post-doctoral training.
This career is geared more towards people who have already done some work in the dental field.
When someone is finished with dental school, they may find that the career path isn’t for them. Working hands-on with patients is different from reading about it in a book.
These people, alongside dentists who have finished practicing, can be dental educators. They can work in a university environment to help train budding new dentists, or they can work on a smaller scale to help educate dentists looking to advance their skills.
Dental educators will require extra training after dental school. Just because someone can complete a procedure, it doesn’t mean that they’re able to teach.
Is a Career in the Field of Dentistry Right for You?
There are so many careers in the field of dentistry to choose from. If you want to devote your life to giving people confidence in their smiles, one of them might be right for you.
While they require education, they’re also profitable and the field is growing. You know that your job will be secure.
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