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A dentist is a doctor who specializes in oral health; dentists assist patients and the general public in treating, preventing and maintaining good dental health. He or she also treats oral diseases, corrects dental irregularities (especially in children) and also manages facial injuries and dental injuries.
A dentist will generally provide his services to the public but can also work privately in a private dental clinic or work for the NHS or both.
As a licensed dentist: you will generally examine the dental and oral hygiene of the patients, educate them on what and what not to do. You will also look after their teeth, detecting teeth, gum and other oral misnomers. After diagnosis, you then carry out treatments for any issues discovered.
The role of a dentist varies depending on workplace, position and years of experience.
These are the duties of a Dentist:
A dentist carries out various medical duties and responsibilities. As a dentist, you have the obligation and responsibility of:
>Educating patients on their dental care, oral hygiene and preventive measures
>Examining patients’ teeth to detect or diagnose any potential or existing dental problems
>Performing dental treatment procedures like teeth extractions, tooth fillings and others
>Performing teeth whitening on patients
>Using technical pieces of equipment like X-rays machines to identify existing and potential issues that can’t be seen with the naked eyes
>Keeping the health records of each patient that visited the clinic.
>A dentist also refer patients to a dental therapist and dental hygienist when they need arises
>A dentist also works with practice receptionist, dental nurse and health assistants to ensure quality healthcare
>A dentist maintains stocks of types of equipment in the facility he/she works (mostly private).
Dentist Working Environment and Hours:
As a dentist, your working hours and environment depend on a variety of factors like country, working arrangements and personal dispositions.
Generally, you will usually work from 9 am to 5 pm, but you could also work on weekends and overtimes. On average, a dentist works for 40-hours in a week.
If you decide to practise as a General Dental Practitioner (GDP), you will be self-employed hence can choose your working hours which could be weekends, evenings or any other time that is convenient to the patients.
If you practise in a hospital setting, your work hours will be slightly longer, and you will be more regular than medical doctors.
In all work environments, a dentist must wear a tunic, surgical gloves, safety glasses and other things that help reduce the risk of infection to visiting patients.
Training and Qualifications of a Dentist:
To become a dentist, you have to complete these three steps.
Step 1: You apply, qualify and will complete a five-year degree in dentistry approved by the General Dental Council (GDC).
To get the five-year degree course, you need to have A level grades in Chemistry, Biology, or an undergraduate 2.1 or higher in Biology, Chemistry or a Biomedical subject. These are the required prerequisite subjects you need to pass. Those that have a required undergraduate degree can also apply for a change of course; you can apply for a four-year dental degree course instead of the regular 5-years.
To have a better chance of being accepted in highly competitive dental courses, you need to clear the UK clinical aptitude test or pass the Biomedical Admissions Test when you apply.
Step 2: You have to register with the GDC; GDC is the professional body which regulates dental professionals in the United Kingdom.
Step 3: Once you finish your degree, you will complete up to two years of postgraduate dental training. These phases of dental training will be done under the supervision of licensed dental practice in the country.
Career Path of Dentists:
Dentistry is a medical field with ample of opportunities both in private, public and other sectors.
For example, in the UK, once a dentist becomes experienced in general practice and procedures, they could set up their dental practice. Setting up a private practice gives extra responsibility ranging from management of staff, equipment stock, and overseeing of budgets.
If you work in a hospital, you will follow a structured career pathway which leads to senior posts after additional training and further postgraduate qualifications. You can train and specialize in professional roles like oral surgery, orthodontics, restorative dentistry and other.
With time and experience, you could go on to lead and manage a department. You can also progress to training and teaching dental students at the University.
In the Armed forces, there are ample opportunities to work as a dentist.
General dentistry is a high paying job, and with an increase in years of service, you can have a better time for yourself. It is lucrative, exciting, and a well-established field in medicine.