How to Become a Dentist

What does it take to become a dentist? Do you have the right skills and ambition to achieve it? Read on to find out more about dentistry.

How to Become a Dentist

If you are looking for a role in health care and you have an interest in helping others, you may find a career as a dentist fulfilling. But what does it take to become a dentist? Do you have the right skills and ambition to achieve it? Read on to find out more about dentistry.

What is a dentist?

A dentist is a medical professional in charge of a person’s oral hygiene. They can work with a variety of people, from young children to adults and their duties are to monitor and treat any issues that might occur in the teeth, jaw, or gums. A dentist plays an important role in the community to ensure that everyone has good oral hygiene and avoids infections and diseases that can deeply impact a person’s life.

Career path and progression

The career path toward becoming a dentist requires a degree in many countries. Having great subject knowledge in all science-related subjects can be highly beneficial for a career in dentistry. Once you have completed your foundation training, you can go on to run your own practice or pick a specialism to work in, some of them include oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, and orthodontics. Running your own practice includes many other skills and talents as you will need to take responsibility for the management of staff, calculate budgets and taxes and buy equipment but you will have the freedom to arrange your own working hours and work in a specialist area of your choosing.  

There are other career paths you can take within dentistry. You can gain further qualifications and work in an educational setting teaching other students or progress to a senior lectureship or professorial post. There is also the option to complete dental research to develop expertise in a particular area of interest and to advance your career further.

How it differs in each country

There are a few different ways that you can train to become a dentist and this will depend on your country and education system. In the United States, dentistry is in the top ten career options and it’s because it is the opportunity to work with people and change their lives and it is also well-paid with many opportunities to progress.

There is a lot of competition to get into dental school and students must be determined and disciplined. After dental school, US students need to pass licensure exams to begin practicing and will require an additional two years of study if they want to pick a specialty.

In the UK, a five-year degree at university is required as a minimum requirement. Similarly, for US students, there are post-graduate opportunities to continue their education and development as theories and methods of dentistry change and advance.

In India, a Bachelor of Dental Surgery is required to practice as a dentist. To begin with, it’s recommended that you take science in the 11th grade and score highly in class 12 to be accepted into a college. The BDS is a five-year course and after that, you can practice as a dentist.

Skills, Qualifications, and requirements

The skills required to be a successful dentist are that you need to have excellent verbal and written communication skills. You will be working with a variety of people of different ages and it’s important to know how to communicate effectively and problem-solve professionally when required. Other skills that most dentists need is manual dexterity and focus, you will need to maintain an intense concentration level for prolonged periods and have a steady hand while doing so.

If you have an interest in improving the wellbeing of others and can develop positive relationships with patients and colleagues, then you will thrive in this career. It can’t hurt to have some good administrative skills too, especially if you dream of opening your own dental practice.

Salary and working hours

The salary of a dentist is a good one in the majority of countries. If you’re in the UK, expect to earn anything between £33,000 and £110,000, this depends on the setting you are working in and if you are working for the NHS or in charge of your own dental practice. American students can earn between $117,000 to $372,000 with experience. Those in India can look at earning anything between 16,600 INR and 93,000 INR a month.

A day in the life of a dentist

A day in the life of a dentist usually includes time assessing patients, talking with patients, completing work on patients, and doing administrative tasks.

Your day will typically begin with an early morning, preparing for the day and seeing what patients you have on your schedule. There will be similar work that you will complete every day including teeth cleaning, filling cavities, and removing or repairing teeth.

Your work schedule will vary depending on your experience, setting, and if you are employed or have your own dental surgery. The majority of dentists work weekdays but some do evenings and weekends to attend to their patient’s needs. The average dentist works less than forty hours a week.

If you don’t mind standing and looking inside people’s mouths all day long, then maybe a career as a dentist is the right one for you!


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