If you want to help people preserve their oral health and appearance, you can become a dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant or dental technician.
Their roles and responsibilities differ significantly from one another, as do their educational and licensing requirements.
Read through these brief descriptions and then dig further to learn more about them so you can decide which is the best fit for you.
Their extensive responsibilities and training garnered general dentists a substantial median annual salary of $152,700 in 2015. Dental hygienists and assistants, who both work alongside dentists, have significantly lower earnings, but that is proportional to their preparation and level of responsibility.
Learn More About Becoming a Dentist Dental hygienists, generally working under the supervision of a dentist, provide preventative dental care.
They typically spend a lot of time with their patients, performing cleanings, examining their mouths and teeth, and teaching them good oral hygiene practices.
They may be general practitioners or specialize in an area of dentistry like orthodontics, periodontics, endodontics or pediatric dentistry. Expect to spend at least six years preparing to become a dentist.
That includes at least two years of college and four years at an accredited dental school.
While some programs don't require a bachelor's degree for admittance, many do.
If you want to specialize, you will have to spend another one to two years doing a residency in that area of concentration after you graduate from dental school. You will have to pass Parts I and II of the National Board Dental Examinations.
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The field of dentistry is concerned with the health and appearance of the oral cavity which includes the teeth, gums and tongue, as well as with the jaw.
The first occupation that typically comes to mind when we think of this branch of medicine is Dentist, but other options might interest those who want to work in this field but aren't willing to, or can't, spend the significant time it takes to prepare for this career.