At our Madison dental office, we love what we do and we find our jobs rewarding. We get to help our patients’ mouths stay healthy, which can directly affect their overall well being, and we even get to see some dramatic smile transformations and change lives. We’d go as far as to say it’s the best job in the world. But how do you know if a career in dentistry could be right for you? Let’s take a glimpse at how you become a dentist and what your job could look like.
What Does a Dentist Do?
You’ve been to a dentist before (or at least we hope!), so you have a basic understanding of what a dentist does. But depending on your own dental experiences, you may not know that a dentist can do a whole lot more than your routine dental exams, x-rays, and sometimes cleanings.
Dentists are responsible for diagnosing problems, developing treatment plans, and treating conditions that affect oral health. They not only look at the health of teeth, but also the gums and the mouth as a whole. Depending on the needs of their patients, dentists’ duties can include removing decayed sections of teeth and replacing them with fillings, eliminating damaged tooth roots and placing a dental crown, and even extracting teeth. They’re a key component to anyone’s medical team and their work is a unique blend of art and science.
Steps to Becoming a Dentist
- Get a Bachelor’s Degree. Most dental schools require a 4 year Bachelor’s degree before admitting students into their doctorate programs. Try to take some classes in biology, chemistry, and other sciences during undergraduate school.
- Pass the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). This exam tests a scholar’s aptitude and knowledge of the sciences. A minimum score is needed to gain entrance into dental school.
- Earn a Dental Degree. In dental school, students will traditionally focus on coursework their first two years, and gain some clinical experience during the final two years.
- Obtain State Licensure. Licensure requirements vary depending on the state you’d like to practice in, but all states require that dentists-to-be pass the National Board of Dental Examinations.
Does the Country Need More Dentists?
If you think dentistry may be the career for you, we have good news. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth for dentists is around 18% through 2024, which is more than double the average growth for other occupations.
At our dental office in Madison, we encourage anyone exploring a career in dentistry to perform their own research to see if it sounds like something they’ll enjoy doing.