It will take around eight full years to become a fully qualified dentist, ready to embark on a career of saving people’s teeth from bacteria. From deciding whether you have the correct personality traits, to selecting where you would like to establish your practice – any many stages in between- we will have a look at what it takes to become a professional dentist.
- The correct personality – An affinity with the sciences, excellent manual dexterity with hand eye coordination, and a great customer serve ability. A commitment to study and gain experience has to be accepted as part of the training as the period spent in the dental school alone requires four years.
- Start on the right path – Take the correct subjects in secondary school and gain as best passes as you can in them, such as physics, chemistry, maths, biology etc to help prepare you for your career, and to give a base to the start of it.
- Choose the correct undergraduate classes – As well as including anatomy classes in your mix, it is pertinent to select a 2D or 3D art class. It cannot be understated how important it is to have outstanding manual dexterity and highly developed motor skills for this line of work, and unfortunately some have embarked on the career path only to find out their skills in this are not up to the mark, and are forced to drop out.
- Apply for admission to a dental school – Most students apply to join more than one dental school – but make sure to only apply to schools that are accredited by the relevant dental authority.
- Attend dental school – Once accepted, this will take you four years to complete. Take didactic classes, you will continue to study anatomy, microbiology, biochemistry and physiology. Take clinical courses to improve your knowledge of prosthetics, dental radiology and oral surgery, as well as more.
- Try to gain experience – Great experience can be obtained by acquiring a part time job in between your studies to work in a functioning dental practice. This allows you to monitor the dentist-patient relationship, begin to build up you customer service skills, and as a bonus, will provide you with some income!
- Graduate – This is a fairly straight forward part of the plan.
- Take your board exams – This process, once passed, allow one to obtain a licence to practice dentistry within the jurisdiction of a state or country. In some exams, the person undertaking the test must perform a physical exam to demonstrate a sound practice and understanding.
- Take the Steps to Specialize now if Desired – now would be the time to look at moving into a specialized field within the dentist industry. There are 9 recognised branches:
- Dental Public Health
- Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
- Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
- Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
- Pediatric Dentistry
10. Start your career – you now have a licence to practice as a dentist! You may start as an associate or partner in an existing practice, buy an existing private licence, or open your own private practice.