Dental Care

Dental Careers Overview : Making People Smile

You're going to love working in one of the many dental careers that are open today.  Working in some aspect of dentistry is a way to let your natural intelligence shine through, and you also get to make people smile!

People in dental careers do a lot more than just cleaning teeth and filling cavities.  They talk to people about problems that are developing with their teeth and gums.

They do root canals and install implants.  Many people get into cosmetic dentistry, which can range from whitening processes to complicated orthodontic procedures.  They form treatment plans for people who have suffered damage caused by chemicals, stress, accidents, disease, or age.

There are many dental subspecialties.  If you're not the dentist, then you're one of the many people on the dental team helping to put the whole process together.

You're likely to need an associate's degree for the jobs we're going to talk about.  All roads to post-high school education start with the FAFSA, which is the government's Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The first thing you do is decide whether you will study through an extension course at your local college or at a technical school.

Then you visit the FAFSA web site.  You need to fill out this application, and you also put in the codes for the schools you're considering.  Once you've completed it, you'll learn if you're eligible for any grants or loans.  It takes some time for this, so start as soon as possible.

Which of the Many Dental Careers Are You Considering? 

Let's take a look at them:

The Dental Hygienist

The first in dental careers we mention, is a the dental hygienist, once he or she has completed training and passed a state certification exam, cleans the patient's teeth.  You need to have a way with people and you ought to be good at working with your hands.  Your job is to remove hard and soft buildup on the patient's teeth and get him ready to meet with the dentist. 

Hygienists also show patients proper brushing and flossing techniques.  You teach them how to keep their teeth and gums healthy through better nutrition.  Some hygienists take dental x-rays and apply sealant materials or fluoride treatments to teeth, but sometimes these duties fall to other staff.

The Dental Assistant

There is also the dental assistant, the person who works side by side with the dentist.  The assistant goes through training and certification processes very much like the hygienist.

Once the patient has had his cleaning and an initial exam from the dentist, you take him and get him comfortably seated, and you're the one who keeps him at ease. You'll be responsible for preparing the chemical compounds used in dentistry.  You're the one who puts the clamps and rubber blocks into the patient's mouth.  And while the dentist works, you stand by with the suctioning equipment. 

Some dentists defer the x-rays to their dental assistants rather than the hygienists.  You might need to take a special radiology course during your training to qualify for this. 

Dental Careers - Dental lab technicians

Dental lab technicians work to create the prosthetics that patients need -dentures, crowns, bridges, and so forth.   You need to make people feel comfortable so they can remain still while you cast a mold of their teeth.  Usually the people who choose this type of dental career have a little bit of artistic flair, because they enjoy creating the molds from wax and applying the porcelain to the dentures. 

The Dental Clinic Receptionist

Those who want to begin a dental career before completing necessary training can begin with a job as a dental office or clinic receptionist.  The receptionist is the first person who greets the patient and puts him at ease, and you also become familiar with the terminology very quickly as you schedule procedures and file insurance claims. 

You're also the person who advises the patients of the dental office policies, and even though you don't need advanced training to get into a job like this you should be comfortable with computers.

Subspecialties in Dental Careers

Dentistry offers many fascinating subspecialties, and you can specialize by working in one of them. 

  • Orthodontics is working with people who need their teeth straightened.

  • Endodontics means more complicated root canals and oral surgical procedures.

  • Prosthodontics involves artificial attachments or implants.

  • There are also oral maxillofacial surgeons who rewire someone's jaw if he's been in an accident or rebuilds structure when a disease has overtaken a healthy jaw.

Going all the Way in Dental Careers - The Dentist

If you think you'd like to become an actual dentist, remember that it's a long career path that requires you to enter dental school after finishing an undergraduate degree. 

Your Input Matters

We would love to have you submit your story:   Are you already training for a dental career, or have you completed training?  Tell us what goes on in your daily work life.  If you're thinking about going into this field, let us know what has drawn you to this career choice.

You hope you'll click on the orange RSS feed icon and get updates as this web site expands, and you are invited to sign up for our free E-Zine to get all the latest updates on program listings.

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