Being A Dentist, What Are We?

A dentist, also known as a 'dental surgeon', is a doctor that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity. The dentist's supporting team aides in providing oral health services. The dental team includes dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and in some states, dental therapists.

All dentists in the U.S must graduate from a university and complete required courses such as biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and statistics/calculus. While most dental schools require at least a bachelors degree, a few schools may consider admitting exceptional students after only 3 years of college. To apply, students must take the DAT or Dental Admissions Test. Admission to dental school is competitive, and is generally determined based on factors such as GPA, DAT scores, recommendation letters, and extracurricular activities. To become a licensed dentist, one must then complete an accredited dental school curriculum and successfully master all clinical competencies and national board exams. Most dental school curriculums require four years of training, however, some states require dentists to complete a post graduate residency program as well. In the US, a newly graduated dentist is then awarded the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree, or the Doctor of Dental Medicine degree depending on the dental school attended. Both degrees are the same. A newly graduated dentist can then pursue further specialty residency training ranging from 2 to 6 years.
Let's take a look What a dentist said about himself:
Since I was 15 years old, while working as an assistant for my father’s Dental Practice, I have been “exposed” to both the business and clinical aspect of Dentistry. I’m sure my father didn’t appreciate it, when I assisted him, and to gently say to him (while his patient is being “drilled”) that, “Dad, shouldn’t you prepare that tooth differently?” My father would stop drilling, look me straight in the eye and say, “Craig, go clean the supply room, I’m fine here”! Not knowing he was kicking me out of the operatory, I would respond by saying, “sure Dad, great idea”. I would then proceed to rearrange the entire supply room perfectly (so perfect that no could find anything).
This simple anecdote is symbolic for the common “deficiencies” that most Dentists, my father’s age as well as recent graduates; Practice Management Skills!! During the 4 to 5 years of didactic absorption, injecting each other with anesthesia for the first time, watching my fellow students hands shake as he nears my mouth. We learned everything there is to know about anatomy, physiology, and yes even neurophysiology (I always wondered why?). BUT what about aging reports, inventory, scheduling, interpretation of year end (percentages) production from each category of procedures, time management, employment management, on and on. Not only do we graduate with the fear of finding employment by a skilled and honest “senior” Dentist, or opening up a practice with the money you have saved (saving money during school?) or having to borrow? Then what? As the saying goes, “blindly go where no Dentist has ever gone before”; Business!
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