Dentistry is a field of medicine that pertains to the health and treatment of the teeth and mouth. Dentists can be general practitioners or specialists; specialties include dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics.
Dentists typically go through four years of dental schooling after completing a bachelor's degree program. Dentists seeking further accreditation in specialty areas often additional years of schooling. Once they complete the program, they will receive a DDS or DMD degree, allowing them to practice.
Dentists prevent, diagnose, and treat problems with the mouth, teeth, or gums. They can treat diseases (such as gum disease), injuries, or malformations that occur. Dentists examine x-rays to identify underlying problems with a person’s mouth and help correct those issues. They fill cavities and place sealants where necessary. Dentists can also repair broken teeth or correct the orientation of crooked teeth by strengthening them.
Dentists often help patients improve their smile by using cosmetic dental procedures such as whitening. They can develop molds of a person’s mouth to create dentures for missing teeth. They advise patients on how to maintain the health of their teeth by brushing, flossing, and other aspects of dental care.
Most dentists are self-employed, building up their own practices and working full time. This usually requires a start-up investment. They must hire and train dental hygienists and secretaries; having staff means dentists provide medical insurance and other benefits to their employees.
- Advise and instruct patients regarding preventive dental care, the causes and treatment of dental problems, and oral health care services.
- Examine teeth, gums, and related tissues, using dental instruments, x-rays, and other diagnostic equipment.
- Administer anesthetics to limit the amount of pain experienced by patients during procedures.
- Diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth, gums and related oral structures, and provide preventive and corrective services.