Becoming a dentist is a rewarding and challenging career. Once you’ve made it, you can look forward to, amongst other things, a relatively high salary, and if you own your own practice, flexible working hours. One of the great advantages with dentistry as a career is that it is a profession, meaning that you can practise it anywhere and it will always be in demand.
However, learning to be a fully qualified dentist in the US isn’t a walk in the park. You have to train for at least eight years before graduating and being allowed to operate on patients unsupervised. These eight years consist of four years completing an undergraduate degree and doctoral training in dentistry will take up the other four years. The last two years of the doctoral training will require students to treat patients hands-on, so that when they graduate they will have physically dealt with patients and performed operation beforehand.
After you’ve decided you want to purse a professional career in dentistry, it is important to decide what type of dentist you want to become. There are two types: generalist and specialist. As the name implies, generalist dentists do not specialize, whereas specialist dentists are experts in one particular area of dentistry. General dentists usually provide oral care to patients at a basic level, and are unable to perform operations requiring a higher skill. Generalists can perform more types of oral care, just not such major operations. If a general dentist wants to become a specialist one, then all it takes is another one to two years of additional training for a dentist to be considered a specialist in one particular field.
There are lots of fields that dentists can become specialized in: periodontics, pediatric surgery and endodontics would be naming some of the most common ones. In the US, you can also specialize in elite fields such as prosthodontics, orthodontics, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and dental public health. It’s important to note that cosmetic surgery, as far as dentistry is concerned, is not recognized by the ADA (American Dental Association) as an official form of specialization. If you want to work in this field, though, don’t fear, as the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, and other similar organizations, are working hard at providing some sort of recognition for those dentists who work in the cosmetic surgery area.
Becoming a dentist in the United States is no easy thing, and this is due to the stringent requirements, such as those concerning security, that the US Government has put in place to ensure dentists are competent and able. However, once you’ve completed all the minimum of eight years required of training, passed all the tests and received your qualification at your graduation ceremony then you’ll know that it’s all been worth it. The number of qualified and aspiring dentists is ever increasing in the US, because more and more people are realizing what a fulfilling and rewarding job it is to help people.