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Understanding the Role of a Dentist
July 21st, 2008
Dentists are professionals that treat problems or issues with teeth, tissues, bones and gums in the mouth. Dentists are vital to the healthcare field in providing the general public not only with treatments and care, but also taking measure to prevent future problems, and ensuring patients know how to care for their teeth and mouths properly. While some dentists choose to specialize in a certain area, many dentists are general practitioners that work with patients of various needs. At times, dentists can also detect general body diseases that can affect areas inside a patient’s mouth.
General practitioner dentists perform a number of routine procedures on patients such as removing teeth decay, filling cavities, repairing teeth, placing sealant on teeth, and straightening teeth. They also extract teeth, replace missing teeth, and perform corrective surgery on gums and bones to treat gum diseases. Dentists may also prescribe medication or antibiotics to eliminate pain after surgeries or procedures or to clean up teeth decay and fight infection. They also strive to maintain teeth health by offering instructions on diet, brushing, flossing, and fluoride use.
Most dentists are solo practitioners that work alone in their own offices or with a small staff. Some dentists also have partners or work in a dental building which may employ several dentists and their assistants. Many new dentists work with an experienced dentist in their office before they open or begin a practice of their own. Some dentists are also able to find positions in hospitals or with government agencies. Dentists must wear protective gear to fight against disease, spend long hours on their feet, be able to work well with their hands, and have the patience to deal with patients who are in pain and/or tense.
All states in the U.S. require dentists to be licensed to practice. Most dental schools require a bachelor degree to be accepted into dental programs. From there, dental school generally takes about 4 years to complete. Dental school studies generally begin with instruction and laboratory work in anatomy, microbiology, and physiology with beginner courses in clinical sciences and laboratory techniques, during the first two years. The last two years of dental school consist of treating patients in dental clinics under the supervision of licensed dentists.