Steps to Becoming A Dentist

Although becoming a dentist is hard work, it is interesting, satisfying, worthwhile and a good paying profession.

If you are thinking about becoming a dentist, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. If you love helping people and are intelligent enough to commit to dental school, then it could be the right choice for you. The pros are, it is fascinating, rewarding, and a challenging profession (not to mention lucrative). The con is, it is hard work.

two dentists working on a patient
Helping people is one of the many benefits of being a dentist.

Those who wish to be a dentist must first decide on the dental schools they may want to submit your applications to. The requirements are similar, but different for each school. Dental school begins after an undergraduate degree is achieved at a university. They are are generally located at universities as graduate programs. Pre-requisite classes must be taken prior to admission. These classes might include advanced math and science classes, as biology and chemistry classes.

A dental school program generally lasts from four to five years. How long it is depends on the class load taken and if a student is focusing on one particular specialty or type of practice. If you are up to it, do a research on different dental specialties and the salaries they pay. Since the course loads are often quite taxing, it is difficult to work while studying to be a dentist. Student loans are often used to be able to afford dentistry school.

Once enrolled in dental school, you can better prepare to market yourself as a dentist by choosing a specialty area. Some dentists choose to run a generalist office, in which they act as a preventative care measure rather than specializing in advanced dentistry. However, a dentist can increase the level of business and patients that his or her office brings in by specializing in things like pediatric dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, or another area that goes beyond general maintenance such as filling cavities and performing cleanings.

Once you have completed dental school, it is now time to decide if you will open your own practice or become an associate at a currently existing dental office within the city. Many dentists who open their own office immediately following dental school find it difficult to recruit patients. This makes the profitability of a dental office difficult to increase, as it is taxing to try to pay rent and employees when there are few patients coming into an office.

On the other hand, it is much more engaging for some dentists to run their own practice, knowing that they are responsible for their own office instead of working for someone else. Joining a team of dentists in an already existing office does provide some comfort to new dentists, since they can gain experience while building a list of patients who might following them in the future to a new office.

One alternative is joining the Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force as a dentist in the military.  The military admits dentists as commissioned officers. They have free medical for you and family members. Most of all, you will not have the worry of putting up an office until you finish your tour, which is usually in increments of four years.

After you have started working as a dentist, you can always change your path in your career. Some dentists who start out with one specialty find that they would like to expand their practice to include more advanced forms of dentistry. Others, who started working in an office with a team of dentists, later choose to start their own practice. If you have been working as a dentist and wish to change your practice, it is always a good idea to take continuing education classes at a dental school to make sure that you are trained in whatever new field you want to practice in.

Becoming a dentist takes a lot of time and effort, but it is one of the most rewarding and worthwhile jobs. Getting to know patients, knowing that you are helping the general well being of the country leads to a level of pride that not many careers can provide.

image sources

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Notify of