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Career Opportunities With A Dental Education
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Getting a dental education does not immediately mean that one has to enter the oral health care workforce as a dental professional. Although this is the main option, there are many individuals in the oral health care workforce that do not hold a degree in dental medicine or a license as a registered dental professional. These persons, though, also have important parts to play or job descriptions in providing oral health care as they form the dental team that supports the work of the main dental practitioner. It is on these other job descriptions upon which some people have already established their careers in the oral health profession.
A dentist is the primary oral health care provider in the team. The dentist is one who has undergone the complete course of a dental education in an accredited university offering a dental degree and who has gained the necessary licensing to practice dentistry. Dentists are educated as doctors with a specialization for diagnosis and treatment of the oral cavity. They are trained to assist persons with the achievement and maintenance of good oral health, which has been found to positively affect a person’s quality of life. In order to ensure that proper oral health care is provided to the public, dentists are required to undergo continuing dental education throughout their career and to register annually their involvement in dental practice. Choosing to be a dentist also usually leads to having your own clinical practice and being responsible for a chosen supporting dental team.
Next to becoming a dentist, one may choose a career as a Dental Hygienist. This involves a shorter course of dental education, up to at least a diploma level accredited for dental hygienists. They are still however required to register annually as a practitioner in their specific field of work and to participate in continuing education in order to ensure that the public receives quality oral health care services from them. The main concern of this job is on oral health education and preventive oral health care, which means that treatment procedures they perform are minimally invasive without the involvement of cutting or removing teeth. These persons work with a dentist in planning treatments for a patient but, under supervision of the dentist, may perform said preventive treatments themselves.
Another key member of the dental team is the Dental Assistant, also known as chair-side assistants, who work closely with the dentist or dental hygienist. They are in the clinical operatory acting as an extra pair of hands for the person who is directly providing dental treatment to the patient, essentially making the work more efficient. This may be a good entry level into the oral health care workforce for persons interested in the profession but cannot yet undergo in-depth dental education. Through further studies, a dental assistant may advance into becoming a dental hygienist, technician, prosthetist or even a dental professional.
There is a career in the dental profession that may not involve any direct contact or communication with patients, which may be appealing for some persons. This is the job as a Dental Technician. Persons who seek a career in this field are required to have at least a diploma level of dental education and laboratory training and to register annually as a practitioner in this work expertise. Their training is focused on the artistic but precise construction or repair of denture teeth, crowns and bridges and other dental appliances that the primary dentist determines a patient needs. Their work is solely based on a dentist’s written instructions and therefore only need to communicate with said dentist in providing a good-quality dental appliance for the patient.
Some dental technicians choose to advance their career by becoming a Dental Prosthetist. Armed with the knowledge of fabricating dental appliances, a dental prosthetist is one who seeks further dental education regarding diagnosing and treatment planning for patients that are edentulous or have missing teeth. Dental prosthetists are able to consult directly with patients who are in need of dental appliances, particularly complete dentures, partial removable dentures or mouthguards, in order to determine the best treatment option for them. They then are able to fabricate the needed appliance and proceed with delivery of such to the patient, without need for supervision by a primary dentist. As independent providers of oral health, dental prosthetists are also required to comply with annual registration for permission to practice their chosen career.
The oral health care workforce is made up of a variety of career opportunities. These different career paths allows someone with an interest to enter the dental profession to select that which is most acceptable to him or her, especially when other factors such as education costs and family life are in consideration. With a dental education, a person is not confined to the future of becoming a dentist with a big responsibility of owning and operating a dental clinic. One may opt to have a simpler but also important role in the provision of oral health care by choosing another career that contributes to be a part of the dental team.
Karen McDonagh is a proud contributing author and write articles on several subjects including Dental Courses. For more information please go to Smart Online Education for Dentists.
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