You are on page 1of 13

Crandall 1

Jackson Crandall

Ms. Davis

English III Honors

22 February 2018

A Career in Dentistry

Dentistry, beginning in ancient Egypt with the thought that worms caused toothaches has

evolved to modern dentistry. Dentistry, known as the profession involved with the prevention of

decay, the diagnosis of potential issues, and treatment to the areas in and around the mouth has

evolved for centuries. Ever since ancient Egypt, dentistry has evolved and now requires an

advanced education, knowledge of the medical field, and business skills.

Dentistry started in ancient Egypt, where important figures discovered a disease in the

mouth. The people believed the toothache, “the disease," came from worms gnawing at the teeth.

Egyptians saw dentistry as a specialty in the medical field. Greek figures, such as Hippocrates

and Aristotle became interested in dentistry and the anatomy of the mouth. Galen, a Greek

physician became the first person to successfully operate on a harlip, a condition where the area

by the nose in the mouth cracks. Galen also advocated for the use of tools when removing

decaying teeth, such as a file and became the first person to discuss the possibility of nerves in

the mouth (Dentistry). With Galen and Hippocrates discoveries, dentistry started to advance in

the ancient times.

Tooth related issues did not uncommonly cause death. Cavities became common when

people first began to farm grains, such as corn and wheat. The grains contain sugars, which

caused cavities. In the late 1700s, when George Washington became president, even he had only
Crandall 2

one tooth. Most people never went to a professional to get their teeth pulled, but rather let their

barbers, who performed many more tasks than just cutting hair-take out teeth because of the

common infections. It became common for people to travel and pull people's teeth, claiming free

of pain methods. Tooth drawers caused for the United States government to issue licensing

requirements for dentists, causing the opening of dental schools (Lewis). With the opening of

dental schools, dentistry education became more organised.

With the founding of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery and the establishment of

the American Society of Dental Surgery by Chaplin A. Harris in 1840, dental education became

organized and streamlined. Dentistry became more organized with the introduction of the

Council on Dental Therapeutics, streamlining drugs and preparations permitted for dentistry

(Dentistry). The establishment led to organized dental education.

Many technological innovations took place in modern years, greatly advancing dentistry.

Introduced in 1990, lasers replaced the difficulty that came with drills. Lasers, used for cavities,

replaced painful drills and making local anesthesia unneeded for most people (Dentistry). The

fluoridation of drinking water became one of the most important advances in dental care,

reducing the rate of dental decay in children by over 50%. Most of the modern United State's

water supply became fluoridated because of this amazing discovery (Wilson). Dental implants,

artificial teeth permanently drilled into the bone, have become more common in recent years.

Implants make it possible for people to replace single teeth, and even up to all of them. The

implants increase the quality of life for people with missing teeth (Waldron, 9). The oral health

of the majority of people has improved, thanks to these technological advancements.


Crandall 3

A major advancement in fields that have to do with oral health came with the

introduction of public water fluoridation. The World Health Organization found that fluoride

reduces decay and cavities. Fluoride, a nutrient that occurs naturally in water and foods can then

benefit the consumer. However, the level of fluoride in natural water does not provide enough

strength to benefit teeth and protect against decay. An American Dental Association study even

found that for every one dollar invested in water fluoridation saves sixty dollars in dental

treatment (WIlson). Water fluoridation vastly improved the quality of most Americans’ health.

Many dental schools require prospective students to enroll in biology and chemistry

classes while in college before entering dental school. A student needs at least a bachelor's

degree to enter most dental schools. The test primarily used for entrance to dental school, the

Dental Admission Test (DAT) gets taken by the students. The DAT requires students to think in

three dimensional spaces, and tests for the knowledge of chemistry and biology (Dentists). While

in college, students should take science courses, such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy to

increase their chances of getting into dental school. Students in high school interested in

becoming a dentist should take rigorous courses in chemistry, physics, anatomy, and math. When

in dental school, the courses consist of learning about things such as local anesthesia, anatomy,

periodontics, and radiology. Students work under a licensed dentist and interacts with real

patients, giving them real world experiences (Dentists). With the experiences gained in dental

school, students gain real world experience and tips.

Requirements by state vary, so dentists need a license in the state in which they work. In

order to have their license granted, most dentists need a degree from an accredited dental school
Crandall 4

and pass the National Board Dental Examination (Dentists). With the different licensing

requirements, dentists need training in all areas of education.

Dentists need to have a few important qualities essential to their career. They need to

have many good qualities to ensure their success as a dentist. Dentists need to have good

communication skills. They need to communicate effectively with patients and other staffing in

order to stay on top of things. Many things can go on inside of a person's mouth, so dentists have

to orient themselves around details and pay attention to everything. They could have different

shaped teeth, different colored teeth, etc. The dentist needs problem solving skills in order to

evaluate patients' symptoms and choose what to do with them. The dentist also needs to have

very good patience because of the need to stand and work with patients for a potentially very

long period of time (Dentists). Dentists need these qualities to ensure their success.

Students interested in becoming a dentist have many choices as far as education goes.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seems like a good choice for education for

becoming a dentist while in college with their dentistry programs. Chapel Hill offers many

degrees, however with an acceptance rate of 28% the school appears challenging to get into. The

University of Southern California has an acceptance rate of 18% and has many dental programs

offered to students (Naviance). Dental students have opportunities to take classes to further

themselves to dental school, and even graduate as a dental assistant.

The application process to dental school takes a long time. In the junior year of college,

the students have to submit application to medical schools. With dental outreach programs in

college, more students become interested in dental school after college (Shapiro). Most dental

schools use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) to streamline the
Crandall 5

process for the applicants. Most dental schools also require a second application, adding more

information about the applicant. Most schools also require letters of evaluation. These provide

information on the academic and personal qualities of the applicant. The applicant then has to go

in for an interview to gather information about the applicant's personal attitude, goals, and

interests (Elam). Dedicated and prepared applicants become more likely for acceptance to dental

school.

Jobs for dentists remain needed, and no signs show that the need will go away soon. The

employment of dentists will expectedly grow 17% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average of

most jobs. In the United States as of 2016, 153,500 dentists employed meaning in 2026 the

projected employment becomes 179,900 people (Dentists). The demand for dentists increases for

people as they grow older because of the decay of their teeth. The need for dentists has increased

in rural areas of the world. Most graduates from dental school do not want to purchase a practice

in rural areas because they would not like the distance away (Waldron, 8). They have an option

to work at a health care clinic, however most choose not to do this because of the chance of

making less money compared to starting a solo practice. Dentists, with their long hours and

unusual schedule work almost 2,000 hours per year on average (Boulier). The average salary for

a dentist in the United States results in $166,810 and the average in North Carolina results in

$205,000 (Naviance). The salary for dentists makes up for their long hours and unusual work

schedule.

Dentists typically work full time, and many people come into work on both nights and

weekends if a patient needs assistance with anything. The hours worked among dentists varies.

Some dentists own their own office and work alone, or work with other staff. The staff typically
Crandall 6

consists of hygienists, dental assistants, and receptionists. On a typical day, dentists work to

complete many different tasks. Dentists remove decay from teeth, fill cavities, repair and replace

cracked or fractured teeth, place sealants or whiten teeth, administer anesthetics, prescribe

medication, examine X-Rays to diagnose problems, make models and measurements, and teach

patients about proper ways to take care of their teeth. If a dentist owns an office, they also need

to complete administrative tasks. They would have to employ people such as hygienists or dental

assistants, and would need to do things like bookkeeping and purchase equipment and supplies

(Dentists). The demand for a dentist with his own office is immense.

Dentistry can seem challenging because of the intense focus the dentist needs to have

each day. Dentists have to work in a small, dark, cramped, complex, and varying area and stay

with someone very personally. Dentists have to maintain focus, which could appear challenging

with all of the other things going on around the office. With the intense level of focus the dentist

needs to have, it can make the job very demanding. Clinical care, while demanding, can become

easier with extra training (Waldron, 28). Dentists can gain knowledge, improve their skills, and

learn more maneuvers and techniques with classes.

Dentists can choose from many different options of where to work. The dentist can

choose to work as a solo in their own office, in an associateship, or in a partnership. Each option

has many advantages and disadvantages. Most dentists choose to work in dentistry because of

the option to run their own businesses. 92.3 percent of all professional dentists work privately,

and of them 58.9 percent completely own and run their own office. As the owner of the business,

the dentist has to have the ability to choose the days worked and the hours. Many dentists choose

to work from 8 in the morning to 5 o'clock in the afternoon, Monday through Thursday.
Crandall 7

However, many dentists have to stay late and may have to come in at night or on the weekends if

a patient needs help. As the owner, the dentist has many options as to what he wants to do with

his business. The owner can decide who to hire, which procedures to offer to their patients, and

what to purchase. The employees need to work with the owner, as well as the other employees

for proper communication. The dentist needs to remain aware of who he hires because they need

to have a passion for dentistry or else the patient might not enjoy their experience at the office.

Most dentists have procedures they enjoy and some they don't. As the owner, the dentist can

decide what procedures to offer to their patients, and if the patient wants something done the

dentist will not do, he can refer the patient to a specialist (Waldron). While it can appear nice to

own a practice, it can seem stressful at times too. As the owner, you have to discipline, give

reviews and raised, help with disputes between staff, and hire and fire people (Patel). In an

associateship the dentist works for another dentist, and does not have any say in the business side

of the practice.

An associateship remains a good option for dentists coming out of dental school for

beginning dentists. It gives the dentist a chance to work, try different types of equipment, find

good and bad ways the office operates, and become eased into the profession. Working as an

associate may reduce stress because of the time not spent on the business side, but may raise

stress in other areas. The dentist has to work with other staff, the equipment, and the supplies the

office offers. The dentist does not get any input in the hiring of employees and if the people in

which he works with appear disliked, he can't do anything about it. The dentist has to adapt to

the equipment already used in the office, and has to perform procedures even if he doesn't feel

comfortable doing them. A partnership, a practice owned by typically two people remains a good
Crandall 8

option. The two share different responsibilities of the office, either the business side or working

with patients. Having a partner has many benefits: the dentists have another person to consult

when hiring employees, purchasing equipment, and overall have a helping hand with things

around the office. Some partnerships pay each partner equal salaries per month, others pay a

percentage based off of the production for the month. It can appear possible for one of the

partners to feel short changed because they may feel like they do more work, but remain paid the

same as their partner. A partnership remains a good choice if the dentist wants to own their own

office and manage themselves, but don't want the stress that goes along with running the

business themselves. Other jobs for dentists include teaching, community health care, working in

a prison, and working in research (Waldron). With the many jobs available, dentistry is open

with lots of fields.

The cost of dentistry has risen over recent years. Supplies become expensive, and with

the constant evolution of technology newer equipment becomes available for purchase. With the

high prices, the patient has to pay more money out of pocket. As a dentist, the office has to

provide for all different types of insurance a patient has. Indemnity dental plans provide a way to

allow for patients to pick any dentist they want, and the insurance company contracts with the

dentists to provide their services with the patients. The insurance company sets the

reimbursement for themselves, and the dentist can charge any price above the set price to make

themselves money. Preferred provider organisations (PPO) writes off the charge for the patient.

This option provides better for the patient, however the insurance provider dictates the cost of the

service done by the dentist. This means that the dentist makes less money off of the patients, but

it attracts more people to the office. By accepting that provider, the dentist's profit gets cut
Crandall 9

significantly. In order to combat the low prices set, the dentist can negotiate with labs and dental

supply companies to reach a lower price, and even use lower quality tools on preferred provider

organizations (Waldron). With the differences in insurance, dentists need knowledge of each

type to remain on top of their cash flow.

The most important thing in the office remains the patient, so staff needs to treat them

well so they come back. Patients appreciate honesty, it builds trust between them, the dentist and

the office staff. Although some conversations can appear challenging (such as conversations

about money), they become needed in the long run because of the reliability the patient needs to

have on the dentist. Patients appreciate a phone call after a treatment to see how they have

progressed after the treatment. The patients become happy when called and checked up on, and

this sets the dentist apart from others. Staying on schedule within the office remains very

important because it keeps the staff from becoming stressed out, and prevents the patients from

becoming upset. Patients at some points might try to put pressure on the dentist into doing a

procedure that the dentist does not feel comfortable doing. Recommending the patent to a

specialist can remain a good solution, however, the patient might become upset because they

don't want to have to travel to another office. Patients can seem dangerous too, they might to try

and pressure the dentist into prescribing a medication that the patient does not needed (Waldron).

With the patient's importance, thanking the patient becomes necessary. By doing this, the patient

feels more invited and less scared about coming back.

When starting an office, the dentist has to decide what type of business they would like to

establish. The type of business established determines the owner's tax situation. Structuring the

business as a corporation becomes necessary with legal requirements. Most commonly, business
Crandall 10

have: limited liability companies (LLC), subchapter S corporations (S Corps) and subchapter C

corporations (C Corps). The type of business decided dictates the tax situation. The taxes include

property taxes, payroll taxes (Medicare, Social Security, and Federal Withholding), sales and use

tax, and unemployment insurance tax (Waldron). Tax liabilities remain a major part of staying

successful, and the practice cannot survive without control over the tax situation.

The American Dental Association approves eight specialties of dentistry. Each specialty

requires a license in dentistry, and most need extra schooling past dental school. Oral surgery

remains the diagnosis and treatment of a disease or injury in structures of the mouth. Oral

surgeons correct this through surgery. Orthodontics remains a specialty where the doctor detects

and prevents collusion and misalignment among the teeth and jaw through things like braces.

Prosthodontics provide artificial replacements for missing teeth. Periodontics remains a specialty

where the doctor treats the supporting structures and tissues surrounding the teeth, such as the

bone and gum. Endodontists provide surgery for the removal of nerves when they become

diseased or injured. Pediatric dentistry remains a specialty where the dentist treats patients

generally under 20 years old. Oral pathology remains mostly a job where the doctor would work

in a laboratory in a hospital and diagnoses oral diseases and its causes and effects; the doctor

wouldn't work directly with the patient, rather indirectly through the diagnosis. Public health

dentistry prevents and controls dental related diseases, and the doctors encourage public health.

Most choose to practice, teach, or administrate (Dentists). All professions remain essential to oral

health, and still have the underlying principles of dentistry.

Dentists have the opportunity to control their hours and their own businesses, while

seeing and assisting patients with their oral health. Projected with the growth of jobs, dentists
Crandall 11

will always find a job. Although dentistry requires lots of time, effort and money, dentistry can

result as very rewarding experience. The people met while working, the knowledge of the

medical field, and the money earned back makes dentistry an excellent choice for a career path.
Crandall 12

Works Cited

Boulier, Bryan L. "Supply Decisions of Self-Employed Professionals: The Case of Dentists."

Southern Economic Journal​, vol. 45, no. 3, Jan. 1979, p. 892. EBSCO​host,​

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,custuid&custid=s8455

861&db=bth&AN=4624714&site=ehost-live&scope=site​.

“Dentist Wages.” ​Naviance​,

https://connection.naviance.com/family-connection/careers/index/view/section/1/oid/29-1

021.00#​.

"Dentistry." ​Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia​, 2017, p. 1p. 1. EBSCO​host​,

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,custuid&custid=s8455

861&db=funk&AN=DE037800&site=ehost-live&scope=site​.

“Dentists.” ​Bureau of Labor Statistics ,​ 30 Jan. 2018,

www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dentists.htm#tab-4​.

Elam, Carol L., et al. "Preparation for Medical, Dental, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and

Physician Assistant Careers: Helping Students Gain a Competitive Edge." ​Journal of

College Admission,​ no. 176, 01 Jan. 2002, pp. 16-21. EBSCO​host​,

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,custuid&custid=s8455

861&db=eric&AN=EJ783676&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Lewis, Kristin. "The Totally Gruesome, Totally Fascinating: History of Teeth." ​Storyworks,​ vol.

25, no. 3, Dec2017/Jan2018, p. 16. EBSCO​host​,

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,custuid&custid=s8455

861&db=prh&AN=126281390&site=ehost-live&scope=site​.
Crandall 13

Patel, Paresh. Personal Interview. 12 February 2018

Shapiro et al. "Impact of a Longitudinal Lecture Series on Pre-Dental Student

Recruitment." ​Journal of Education and Training Studies​, vol. 5, no. 5, 01 May 2017, pp.

1-5. EBSCO​host​,

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,custuid&custid=s8455

861&db=eric&AN=EJ1139034&site=ehost-live&scope=site..

Waldron et al. ​So, you want to be a Dentist?.​ Lulu Publishing Services, 2013.

Wilson, Drew. "Fluoridation Is Effective and a Smart Investment." ​New Hampshire Business

Review​, vol. 33, no. 26, 16 Dec. 2011, p. 15. EBSCO​host​,

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,custuid&custid=s8455

861&db=b9h&AN=69841747&site=ehost-live&scope=site​.