Is Dental School For Me?
What do Dentists do?
Dentists are health professionals who focus on maintaining the health of teeth, gums and other hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity and adjacent structures. For most, a dentist is viewed as the person who simply cleans teeth and/or “fixes” cavities. This view is actually limited, as the responsibilities of a dentist cover a multitude of areas such as the prevention of tooth decay and the diagnosis of periodontal disease, malocclusion, and oral-facial anomalies.
Additionally, dentists can be found not only providing direct patient care but also teaching, conducting research and working in public and international health. Though the vast majority of dentists are self-employed in private practice, a dentist can also work as a salaried employee or associate, in academic dentistry and dental education, or in dental research.
Here are some ways you can find out what dentists do:
- Research online resources through the Career Center’s Career Exploration Dentistry pages.
- Talk to dentists, dental students, dental faculty and dental school representatives.
- Attend dental school information days and campus tours.
Top 10 Tips for a Career in Dentistry
- Major in the field which interests you the most, while showing strong academic ability in science.
- Explore the field of dentistry; be sure you know the positive and negative aspects of being a dentist and the future of the dental profession. Opportunities are expanding annually in private practice, industry, government, dental societies, national scientific organizations and educational institutions.
- Pursue extra-curricular activities which interest you. Begin to develop a unique self that will make you attractive to the dental admissions committee. Leadership and communication skills are most important, particularly the ability to work with others of diverse interests and backgrounds.
- Keep your grades as high as possible. An upward trend in grade performance will be noted, especially when you are trying to overcome a less than spectacular year.
- Be sure to start looking for people who can write your letters of recommendation. Be sure to choose those individuals who know you and your work well and who you have close relationships with, e.g. shared interest in academic and /or professional matters.
- Develop your manual dexterity, entrepreneurial skills and ability to read, write and think professionally. Only part of dentistry is science.
- Pursue an academic interest in depth, e.g., research. Keep in mind that research need not be in a laboratory.
- Make the most of your experience at Berkeley. Make friends, get involved, and keep alert of opportunities.
- There are many paths to dental school. People of different backgrounds, experiences and ages, etc. all get there.
- Lastly, be sure to talk to as many as people as possible about the dental profession (dentists, dental students, and dental school representatives) and keep current on dental issues from researching the dental profession.