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Dentists: What Do They Do?

Oct 23

Dentists Are Doctors That Specialize In Oral Health

The majority of Americans nowadays have good oral health and are able to preserve their natural teeth for the rest of their life. However, this is not true for everyone. Cavities are still the most common chronic childhood disease, and millions of Americans have not visited a dentist in the last year, despite the fact that regular dental exams and excellent oral hygiene can prevent most dental disease.

Too many people make the mistake of thinking that they only need to see a dentist if they are in pain or suspect something is amiss, but they are overlooking the wider picture. A dental visit entails getting evaluated by an oral health doctor who is capable of identifying and treating disorders that range from minor to severe.

The American Dental Association believes that a better understanding of dentists' extensive academic and clinical training, their role in providing oral health care, and, most importantly, the degree to which dental disease is almost entirely preventable is critical to ensuring that more Americans benefit from good oral health for the rest of their lives.

The Dentist's Function

Doctors that specialize in oral health are known as dentists. Their responsibilities include the following:

  • Oral disease diagnosis
  • Developing treatment regimens to maintain or restore their patients' dental health
  • X-rays and diagnostic tests interpretation
  • Ensure that anesthetics are administered safely
  • The growth and development of the teeth and jaws are being monitored
  • Surgical procedures on the teeth, bone, and soft tissues of the oral cavity are performed
  • Taking care of oral trauma and associated emergencies

Taking A Team Approach

The team approach to dentistry encourages comprehensive, convenient, cost-effective, and efficient dental care. Dental assistants, lab technicians, and dental hygienists are all part of the team. The dentist, who specializes in oral health and holds either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree, which are practically the same, leads the team. The clinical team must be overseen by dentists to ensure safe and effective oral care.

Clinical Education And Training

The high academic requirements of dental schools, as well as the level of education and clinical training required to receive a dental degree, are vital in preparing dentists for the safe and successful practice of modern oral health care.

The majority of dental students have acquired a Bachelor of Science degree or its equivalent, and they have all passed tough entrance exams.

Anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, immunology, and pathology are among the biomedical science courses that students must finish throughout their first two years of dental and medical school. Dental students' training in the second and third years focuses on clinical practice – identifying and treating oral disorders. Many dentists continue their study and training after getting their undergraduate and dental degrees (eight years for most), in order to achieve certification in one of nine recognized dental specialties.

In order to practice dentistry, dentists must pass a demanding national written examination as well as a state or regional clinical licensure exam. They must complete continuing education requirements for the rest of their lives in order to stay current on the latest scientific and clinical breakthroughs as a condition of license.

Dentists, as specialists of oral health, must be able to identify and treat a wide range of problems, as well as know how to handle complications, some of which can be life-threatening.

Teeth And Gums Aren't The Only Things That Matter

Dentists are responsible for not only the teeth and gums of their patients, but also the muscles of the head, neck, and jaw, the tongue, salivary glands, and the head and neck nerve system. Dentists inspect the teeth and gums, but they also look for lumps, swellings, discolorations, ulcerations, and any other abnormalities during a full exam. They do biopsies, diagnostic testing for chronic or infectious disorders, salivary gland function, and oral cancer screening tests as necessary. Dentists can also detect early warning symptoms of disease in the mouth that may signify disease elsewhere in the body. Dentists are also trained to recognize instances in which patients should be referred to dental specialists or physicians.

Why Is Oral Health Important?

Several recent scientific investigations have found links between dental health and a number of general health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease. As a result, the World Health Organization has included oral health in its efforts to prevent chronic diseases, stating that "the dangers to health are related."

To build a "dental home," the American Dental Association recommends that dental appointments begin no later than a child's first birthday. Dentists can offer advice to children and their parents, provide preventative oral health treatments, and diagnose and treat dental disease at an early stage. This regular dental treatment will assist both children and adults in maintaining good oral health for the rest of their lives.

We can enhance America's dental health and give everyone something to smile about if we work together.

Years Of Specialized Training Beyond A Four-Year Dental Degree Are Required

  • Pediatric Dentistry – Oral health needs of newborns, children, and adolescents from infancy to adolescence – After dental school, you'll have to go to school for another 25 months
  • Endodontics specializes in performing root canals and is concerned with the health of the dental pulp, the soft core of the tooth. After dental school, you'll have to go to school for another 26 months
  • Periodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with illnesses of the gums and the bone that supports the teeth. After dental school, you'll have to go to school for 35 months
  • Correcting dental and facial abnormalities – Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics After dental school, you'll have to go to school for another 30 months
  • Prosthodontics is the practice of restoring natural teeth or artificially replacing missing teeth or oral structures, such as dentures. – After dental school, you'll have to go to school for 32 months
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMS) is a surgical specialty that treats diseases and injuries of the mouth. After dental school, you'll be in school for 54 to 72 months
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology is the study of diseases that affect the mouth, teeth, and adjacent areas. After dental school, you'll have to go to school for 37 months
  • Mouth and Maxillofacial Radiology — X-rays and other forms of imaging used in the diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases and disorders – takes 30 months to complete after graduating from dentistry school
  • Dental Public Health - Organizing community initiatives to prevent dental disease – After dental school, you'll have to go to school for 15 months