Learning to Take Better Care of Your Family's Teeth

What Is A Dentist?

A huge part of your oral health is going to regularly see your dentist for check-ups, but that does not necessarily mean you know anything about your dentist's job or how they came to be one. 

What Is a Dentist?

A dentist is an oral health professional. A dentist's job is to take care of the health of your mouth and teeth. Dentists are often confused with orthodontists. Dentists will often refer you to an orthodontist if something is out of their knowledge and skill range. Orthodontists typically treat misalignment of the teeth while dentists care for your overall oral hygiene. 

Why Should You See a Dentist?

You may be wondering why you need to routinely see a dentist if you are taking good care of your teeth. Regardless of how well you take care of your teeth, no one is perfect. Your dentist will be able to clean the plaque and bacteria that get missed during your regular brushing and flossing. Your dentist will also be able to look for more serious oral problems if you go in for your regular checkups. 

If you are experiencing unusual pain and/or discomfort in your mouth, teeth, or jaw, your dentist will be able to diagnose and treat it easier the sooner they know about it. 

What Does a Dentist Do?

At your regular appointments, you spend a brief time with your dentist when they come in to examine your teeth so if you have never experienced oral problems, you may not know the scope of a dentist's responsibilities. 

Dentists are also responsible for:

  • Filling cavities
  • Repairing teeth
  • Extracting teeth
  • Whitening teeth
  • Cleaning teeth
  • Inserting dental implants
  • Performing root canals

There are times when a certain situation or exception may arise, and your dentist may need to refer you to a specialist. 

Becoming a Dentist

To become a dentist you will need to graduate high school or get a GED. After high school, you will need to earn a bachelor's degree next. After you have earned your bachelor's degree, you will need to take and pass a dental admissions test to get into a dental school. In dental school, you should earn your Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. Once you have this, you can take the tests to become a licensed dentist. However, if you do plan to specialize in a certain field, you may be required to complete a residency. 

Salary of a Dentist

The average salary of a dentist is around $238,000 per year. This is equivalent to about $114 per hour. A dentist who specializes in a certain field can average even more. Your salary can vary widely depending on the state you live in.