A Career in Dentistry
Thursday July 3, 2003
Dear Dr. Mady: I am just graduating high school and am considering a career in dentistry. As a practising dentist, do you feel that it is rewarding and does it have a good future? –Shawn in Stoney Point
Dear Shawn: Dentistry is and always will be a distinguished and rewarding career for any person who has the good fortune of choosing it and succeeding in it. This profession offers numerous career options within itself where technology and science are mingled together to assist individuals in maintaining and enhancing their oral and dental health.
As a licensed dental practitioner, you will be able to provide people with a needed service that they cannot provide for themselves. You will help your patients improve their appearance and quality of life both physically and from an esteem aspect. As a dentist I receive a great amount of personal gratification by furnishing my community with the treatment that I do and also by creating these columns by which I can educate the public, especially if they don’t visit the dentist as often as they should. I get a satisfaction by attending to all age groups, including the elderly, the disadvantaged and individuals with special needs.
If you choose this line of education and work, you should achieve the flexibility of a balanced lifestyle, both professionally and personally. You will have the independence of being self-employed and running your own business if you end up in private practise, like most graduates eventually do. As your own boss, you can work as little or much as you desire, basically setting your own hours. Financially, you will always posses the ability to earn a decent living for yourself and your family if you end up with one.
If you look in the yellow pages under “dentists”, you might ask yourself how you are going to make a living with all these other dentists out there in practise. The truth is that you will always create a demand for yourself and maintain your “piece of the pie”, after earning it, by following a few simple rules. Always try your best, be honest and have integrity, treat your staff with dignity and respect, constantly keep your patients’ best interest at heart, and keep yourself educated so that you can continue to provide excellent and up to date treatment options for you patients. Never allow your work to cause you to neglect your family, friends and hobbies. These assets will assist you in achieving balance in your life, even if you decide not to choose dentistry as a career.
If you are concerned that the need for dentists will diminish over time, you are absolutely wrong. The need and demand for dentists will always exist in our lifetime and will continue to grow throughout it. There are many contributing factors related to this fact including the expectation that large numbers of dentists will retire in the next fifteen to twenty-five years. Also baby boomers are most likely going to require great amounts of maintenance on existing dental work and will be seeking new alternatives with respect to their dental restorations, replacement of missing teeth, and prevention. Older adults are actually keeping their teeth longer.
In a way, dentists are like artists. I say this because of the fact that they incorporate acute visual/special abilities with an artist-like manual dexterity in order to deliver treatment or services to their clients. The profession is advancing rapidly from both a challenge and opportunistic standpoint. Dentists today are required to take a certain amount of continuing education every year in order to maintain their license to practise. This keeps them up to date on all the latest techniques and assures the public that they are qualified.
Dentistry offers several motivating specialty, post-graduate routes. In addition to general dentistry, there exists many superb opportunities including dental research, hospital dentistry, dental hygiene, dental assisting, dental lab technology, teaching or even public health dentistry and work with various government agencies. My best advice if you are contemplating a career in dentistry is to spend time in a dental office, observing, assisting and just seeing if it is the thing for you. Volunteer at your family dentist’s practise. If you don’t have a dentist, contact the local dental society. They may be able to guide you to a helping hand or even have knowledge with respect to possible programs at nearby dental schools. Good Luck!
This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5