Dentists diagnose, prevent and treat problems of the teeth, gums and tissues of the mouth. They examine patients to determine conditions and diseases using X-rays and a variety of dental instruments. They clean, fill, extract and replace teeth and provide preventive dental services such as instruction on proper diet, brushing and flossing as well as placing protective plastic sealants on teeth, straightening teeth, and performing corrective surgery of the gums and supportive bones to treat gum diseases.
Most dentists are in private practice and usually work with a dental hygienist, dental assistant or nurse. Dentists also may be a part of a dental or medical group, or they may work in a hospital, public health department or the military. Dentists usually work 4 or 5 days a week during regular business hours and a few work evenings and weekends to accommodate patients. Most dentists become general practitioners, handling a variety of dental needs, however some dentists obtain additional training in one of the listed specialties.
High school students should study biology, chemistry, physics, health, and mathematics. Dental students should have a bachelorís degree with an emphasis on courses in the sciences. Students wishing to enter dental school must take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). Their overall Grade Point Average (GPA) and their GPA in the science courses will also be considered. Dental school lasts 3 or 4 years with course work in clinical sciences, anatomy, microbiology, biochemistry, and physiology followed by working in a dental clinic under the supervision of a licensed dentist. Upon completion of an accredited dental school, students receive the degree Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). To acquire a license, graduates must pass written and practical exams. Specialty licenses require post graduate education.
American Dental Assistants Association
140 N. Bloomingdale Road
Bloomingdale, IL, 60108-1017
630/994-4247 or 877/874-3785
American Dental Association (ADA)
211 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL, 60611-2678
American Dental Hygienists' Association
444 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 3400
Chicago, IL, 60611
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