If you’ve been thinking about your future lately, it’s time to consider dental school. Becoming a dentist is a fantastic career choice, but you must understand the hard work you’re signing up for. You shouldn’t enroll in any program unless you have a general idea of what the study of teeth entails. Let’s find out what you’ll learn during your college education that will turn you into the best dentist.
1. General Skills and Knowledge
A considerable part of your education will be dedicated to learning all the skills needed to repair the various situations you’ll face in the practice of general dentistry. For example, you must learn how to spot and fix cavities with the proper utensils and up-to-date procedures. Manual dexterity is an essential part of being a dentist. Some people are naturals, while others must practice harder until their movements become second nature.
The study of teeth can be complicated. Still, if you learn and repeat each procedure, you can master anything. Many patients will want dental implants, requiring you to extract old, decaying pieces and insert new ones. They may also need stitches, so you’ll need to rehearse how to sow them correctly in tight, small areas to avoid hurting the patient. Dental school may not seem as complicated as medical school in general, but you’ll still need to know a lot about the human body and how oral hygiene can affect someone’s health.
You must be ready to treat periodontal diseases, caries, and infections. Some dental schools can teach you soft skills that will be detailed below, but you might not understand them thoroughly until you have real-world experience. Once you get into an apprenticeship and start assisting professional dentists, you’ll see that the study of teeth is much more involved than just understanding anatomy. Each patient is different, and all treatments differ accordingly. You’ll have to adapt and use your common sense and creativity at times because this field is anything but boring.
2. Using the Tools
The typical tools in dentistry may seem easy to handle, especially if you’ve seen how dentists use them during your visits. However, they take years of practice to master appropriately, especially drills, because they can be dangerous if used inexpertly. During the study of teeth, you’ll understand what to use to treat all kinds of problems, from clearing a simple cavity to performing a root canal. It’s wise to understand all the equipment dentists need before starting your education, so let’s learn about them.
High-quality mirrors are essential to examine patients. They need to be the best because they’re the only way to determine each individual’s illnesses and how to treat them. Learning how to use them at the same time as other tools is critical. Even if a patient opens their mouth as wide as possible, you’ll work in a tight, dark space, and saliva will get in your way, obstructing your field of vision. Therefore, it’s necessary to have double-sided mirrors and a rhodium single-sided mirror. You’ll learn how to maneuver them properly during dental school and your mentorship.
Hemostats are other essential tools for dentists and orthodontists. Your studies will teach you which one to use for each treatment, meaning you must learn how to handle all varieties, like a curved tip hemostat and an extra tapered tip hemostat. You must also utilize explorers, scalers, and probes. At first, you can try any kind in your school dental toolkit, but investing in special ones adapted to your hand is recommended once you become a professional. You’ll have to check their weight and design to determine what works best for your practice.
3. Handling Patients
The study of teeth wouldn’t be complete without some soft skills that will make you a better professional. You must understand how to deal with patients, mainly because family dentistry can be scary and painful for many people. To become a pediatric dentist, you’ll need to learn how to put children at ease. Therefore, learning these skills in school is imperative. You must study the theory and acquire knowledge, but these soft skills will set you apart once you enter the real world.
You’ll have a successful practice if you’re the kind of doctor who treats patients with patience, attention, and care. People should want to return to your clinic. Additionally, they should recommend you to others. That’s why patient care is so vital. Some people may believe their skills and industry mastery are enough to get customers, but that’s false. Clients will only return to doctors who treat them well.
While you must advise on the best teeth care practices, any lecturing and scolding may be detrimental for some patients. They may be embarrassed about their situation, and you must put them at ease. Give them solutions and hope. That way, they’ll be much more likely to get better and come back to your clinic. Putting people at ease is a big part of being a doctor in any medical practice.
4. Human Anatomy
Human anatomy is part of the information you’ll learn while studying teeth. Most people erroneously believe dentists and orthodontists don’t look at anything but people’s mouths. That’s a big misconception because these professionals must know enough about human anatomy. Dental health can affect other parts of your body. Infections in a tooth may travel to your heart. Therefore, your dentist must be aware of any consequences that may come to your body if you need procedures such as damaged tooth repair or surgery on your wisdom teeth.
That’s why dentists get a lot of theoretical courses. They also get pre-clinical and clinical education. Some of their work focuses on the human nervous system because they must understand how it connects to the mouth and each tooth. Learning about prevention, diagnosis, and treatments is the key to attending to as many patients as possible. Each student may then go into various fields in dentistry and orthodontics, but that’s something you’ll decide after a while in the study of teeth.
Aside from anatomy, you’ll also take physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacology, and dental sciences courses, such as oral anatomy, oral pathology, and oral histology. These classes will show you all the theoretical knowledge needed, but any medical practitioner should understand that their education may never end. You may need refreshers or certifications on new methods and procedures after graduating and practicing for years. Technology advances each day, so it’s always best to adapt. Dental school will get you started with the basics.
5. Preventative Knowledge
As a dentist, you not only need to learn everything about maintaining oral health, but you should also be able to explain it to patients. The people who come to your clinic may not know anything because not everyone has the same education. You must be able to show preventative measures and how people with advanced diseases can work on themselves even after professional treatments. For example, gingivitis is a common problem when you don’t brush your teeth properly or regularly.
Sometimes, the disease gets so advanced that an individual’s mouth structure becomes an issue. If your dentistry future focuses on periodontics, you should be able to fix this condition and try to teach patients how to prevent anything from happening again. If you turn to pediatric dentistry, you must be informative but not overly formal. Kids learn about hygiene better if it’s not presented as a chore or something scary. You don’t want them to fear the dentist for the rest of their lives.
While you may be more interested in the procedures and treatments in this industry, it’s also best when patients learn from their mistakes and practice better hygiene. Show them how to floss their teeth effectively, the different methods for brushing, how long and often they should be cleaning their mouths, and what kind of products they could use as breath fresheners. Dentists decorate their clinics with informative posters and buy props around the office to show these things to their clients. Doing this will help you love your profession and understand its significance in the world.
6. Nutrition Facts
All dentists know that what you eat affects your health. Therefore, the study of teeth needs to include proper nutritional information so you can impart it to your patients. You may have seen how sugar can speed up caries formation, as there are usually signs and warnings at a dental office, but other foods also cause issues. A high-carbohydrate diet contributes to diseases such as obesity, hypertension, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. These things, coupled with poor oral health, can become extremely harmful to your patients.
You should be able to tell your patients what things to avoid, such as candies, cakes, cookies, muffins, etc. Naturally, it may not be possible for them never to eat these things, but you must get them to understand that they need to brush their teeth as soon as possible if they do. The amount of sugar in these dishes will speed up tooth decay. Sodas, acidic drinks, and sweetened coffee also cause problems. Snacking is usually the issue because people don’t think about brushing unless it’s after a big meal.
In school, you’ll learn about the kinds of food that benefit dental health, such as real cheese, milk, plain yogurt, leafy greens, almonds, etc. They provide calcium and other nutrients that are essential to all health. Proteins like chicken, beef, and eggs are also significant because they contain phosphorus needed to protect and reform tooth enamel. Organic fruits and vegetables are also necessary to increase saliva production and naturally wash out the harmful elements of other foods.
By now, you probably understand that communicating with a patient and explaining your knowledge is essential to a dentist. It’ll also be a big part of the study of teeth. However, there’s a big reason why. As mentioned earlier, many patients prefer to avoid going to the dentist. They fear the pain or the scolding that will come because not everyone maintains perfect oral hygiene, so they avoid appointments.
However, if you learn to communicate appropriately with people, you’ll be able to ease their worries about any possible procedure. For example, braces are bad news for most kids, but you must be able to tell them why they’re necessary. You can explain exactly how they work to transform each person’s smile and how they will improve their oral health. You also have to tell them how to clean their mouths after installing them.
Therefore, dentists need good communication skills, and that education starts when you enroll in dental school. Furthermore, this communication shouldn’t be one-sided. Your patients should be heard because some of their concerns will tell you how to proceed with any treatment. Everyone will have questions and worries; your role is to assure them of your expertise and the advantages of the treatments you recommend.
8. Your Future
Finally, one of the main things you’ll learn in the study of teeth is what kind of future you want. There are many specialties and subspecialties to choose from, and you’ll need to narrow your interests. Many people dream of being a cosmetic dentist because they believe that’s where they’ll earn more money. Others think sedation dentistry is an exciting field. Picking the proper focus is one of the most critical parts of your education.
Fortunately, you can investigate several routes before your studies begin to see what areas sound more attractive. You could be an endodontist who focuses on treating the dental pulp or nerve of each tooth. An orthodontist corrects malocclusions and treats neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities. They also work on teeth straightening. A prosthodontist helps people with missing or weak teeth and maxillofacial problems that may have led to teeth loss.
Dental anesthesiology can be an excellent area, and pediatric dentistry is great for people who love children. You can even become an orofacial pain expert, treating people with chronic mouth, jaw, head, and neck discomfort. Oral medicine is another option, as you’ll be responsible for the most complex cases that require deeper interventions. In subspecialties, you’ll find restorative and geriatric dentistry, among others.
Now that you understand what you’ll have to learn to become a great dentist, it’s time to consider your future thoroughly. The study of teeth can be complicated. You’ll have to understand how oral hygiene impacts health, but if you fall in love with the field, all your hard work will be worthwhile.