What do dentists do and what skills are required?

Dentist 1

Dentists provide the public with an essential health service. The type of dentist that most people are familiar with is the general practitioner dentist — an oral health expert who diagnoses, prevents and treats diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity.

The job also involves surgery, reconstruction, correction, restoration and aesthetic improvement. But aside from the scientific aspect, there is an artistic component to this job as well. It is a craft that involves careful, precise handwork to carry out such tasks as brightening teeth or realigning a jaw.

Dentists must possess excellent spatial judgment and manual dexterity as well as good visual memory. More and more research indicates that poor oral health can lead to poor overall health and vice versa. Today, a dentist’s work is much broader in scope and they are the experts on how the health of teeth, gums and mouths relate to general health.

The main areas of work that dentists are involved with include prevention and public education, detection and management of oral conditions, aesthetic improvement, restoration, correction, reconstruction and surgery.

Many dentists have a private practice and are therefore responsible for overseeing numerous administrative tasks as well including bookkeeping, keeping track of dental records.

There are nine other dentistry specialties including endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, oral medicine and pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, prosthodontics and dental public health.

Published on December 8, 2011
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