Careers In Oral Healthcare
There are many different options that can be explored when it comes to careers in dentistry. There are also positions available to people of all different educational levels.
There are higher positions for people who have obtained a doctoral degree, and also administrative level positions for people with minimal training in the area. Whichever path you choose, you will work with a wide range of professionals with different specialties to provide proper oral care for patients.
Oral health does not just pertain to your bi-annual cleaning at the dentist’s office, but covers a wider range of things from cleanings to surgeries and braces and everything in between. Each procedure may have a different specialist who works only in that area, or may be handles by a general oral health care provider.
A general dentist, also referred to as DDS, is similar to the primary care doctor of medicine. The general dentist provides cleanings and general dental health care prevention and maintenance such as teeth cleaning, fluoride treatments, cavity fillings, and root canals.
A cosmetic dentist specializes in aesthetic oral care, which is intended to improve the appearance more than to improve the patient’s health. This professional may also choose to practice general or primary dentistry in addition to the cosmetic kind.
Some of the most common cosmetic procedures performed include teeth whitening, placement of veneers, and bonding of dentils. An orthodontist specializes in the jaw alignment and positioning of the dentils and mouth.
Orthodontists utilize a variety of methods, tools and appliances to help straighten and realign crooked or misaligned teeth. Materials like braces, retainers, and other devices help correct and straighten the dentils of the patients.
Orthodontists primarily treat younger patients who are still in their teens or even prior to that age. This is because the teeth are much easier to move while the patient is still growing and developing.
Though these are the most popular patients, a person of any age can get orthodontic work done. If you want work done to straighten crooked or misaligned teeth, you can schedule an appointment to receive a consultation on what would be the best way to fix your problem.
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in care of the gums and tissue surrounding the teeth. This professional is usually seen or consulted when an individual is diagnosed with gum disease or if there is a bacterial infection in the gums or tissue in the mouth.
An oral surgeon provides surgical care for the teeth, jaws, and facial bones. Patients are typically referred to a surgeon by a general dentist or other healthcare professional that may identify the need for oral surgery.
All of the above mentioned careers require a graduate level of education, but there are also mid-level positions available in the oral healthcare field. Dental assistants help dentists with a variety of tasks but are not qualified to do full cleanings and identify cavities as are dental hygienists.
Assistants can obtain training at a technical school with a brief diploma program, or on-the-job training. Dental hygienists can provide some basic dental care under the supervision of a licensed dentist.
More education is required to become a hygienist than an assistant, and therefore hygienists earn about twice as much as assistants. Dental lab technicians play a non-clinical role, meaning they do not work directly with patients.
Lab techs work in a lab, behind the scenes, manufacturing crowns, retainers, implants, and other dental prostheses which require custom specifications. Dentists and orthodontists use molds and x-rays to provide the specifications to the lab for a custom fit.
In addition to the clinical roles mentioned above, the oral health care field also offers a variety of administrative roles, similar to those in medical offices. These include receptionists, appointment schedulers, and accounting and billing professionals.
Since oral healthcare professionals do not have a need to be affiliated with hospitals, the options of practice environments are primarily limited to dental offices. However, there are a variety of employers who need dental professionals such as the military and other government institutions, in addition to private dental practices.
Terry Daniels has worked since the early 90s as a dental assistant. He has written hundreds of articles about cosmetic dentistry RI and oral healthcare.