The medical practice concerned with oral health. Dentists are practitioners of this specialty. A dentist’s job involves the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth. A dentist has the ability to assess a patient's oral health and implement any necessary corrective procedures. Dentists also give advice regarding overall oral health and the prevention of oral disorders.
Those interested in pursuing a career in dentistry need to have completed a bachelor’s degree in a related field before entering a four-year dental program, which leads to a Doctor of Medical Dentistry degree. After graduating from such a program, they can continue in their studies to pursue a specialist degree.
Dentists use a variety of instruments during corrective procedures. These include drills, oral mirrors, forceps, scalpels and probes, among other tools. They often use X-ray machines to aid with oral assessment. Dentists perform various dental procedures such as removing decay from teeth and filling cavities, performing root canals, and cleaning, straightening and extracting teeth. They also treat gum diseases and may perform cosmetic dentistry.
Most dentists are general practitioners, but many others specialize in different dental fields. Orthodontists are the largest group of dental specialists and focus on straightening teeth with the aid of braces and retainers. Other specialists include pediatric dentists, who work with children; periodontists, who provide gum treatment; endodontists, who specialize in roots; prosthodontists, who make dentures and partials; and oral pathologists, who study oral diseases.
Dentists usually engage in dental procedures with dental assistants, who help them during assessments, ordinary dental procedures and surgery. Many dentists are involved with public health and use a proactive approach in the community to promote good oral hygiene—frequently at schools and other institutions.