It’s common to only see your dentist for a few short minutes during a visit for a routine cleaning. In most cases, a patient spends more time with a hygienist than with the actual doctor of dentistry. That may lead one to think that dentists have a cushy job that doesn’t require too many responsibilities, when in fact it is anything but.
As a child, most people grow up not being too fond of the Chandler Dentist. While some children may loathe their regular cleanings more than others, not having an affinity for the big chair is a widespread conviction among young people.
So how, then, do children decide they want to grow up and be dentists?
It is a fair question and a good one at that, especially when considering that becoming a professional in the field of dentistry is anything but easy and only becomes more demanding the further into it you get. Because of the level of education involved and the commitment necessary over a long period, dentistry is one of the more challenging fields to dedicate oneself to in the professional world.
To start, any student hoping to begin a career track in the field of dentistry must graduate with a bachelor’s degree and have completed certain core courses related to the field. These often include sciences such as biology, both general and organic chemistry, and physics. Certain math courses such as calculus are also commonly required.
The majority of dental schools require a bachelor’s degree but may consider waiving that requirement in unique and, in most cases, rare circumstances. These cases typically involve extremely bright, qualified and promising students with demonstrated potential and achievements in college who have only completed two or three years of their undergraduate program but appear ready for and capable of undertaking graduate studies.
To apply to the required graduate programs, potential students must take the standardized Dental Admissions Test or DAT. Once scores are rendered, admission to various schools is competitive and extremely selective. Determining factors are typically the individual’s DAT scores, undergraduate grade point average, letters of recommendation from professors or other mentors, and other notable activities or undertakings the student had become involved in.
Once admitted to a graduate school of dentistry, students must complete all four years of study, demonstrate competency in all related clinical work and pass related national board exams. Some states also require dentists to complete a residency program following graduation before becoming certified.
A student officially becomes a dental professional when he or she then receives a Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. The student is then eligible to practice as a dentist, or he or she may elect to pursue specialized training in a sub-field that can take anywhere from an additional two to six years.
So while you may only see your dentist for a brief period at the end of every checkup, you should keep in mind that to spend those five minutes with you, he or she had to spend years becoming qualified to do so.