Dentists prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth, performing routine and emergency procedures to improve their patients’ dental and oral health. Most Dentists work in private practices, in which case they are usually referred to as “General Practice Dentist”. They may also be employed in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, where they specialize in areas such as orthodontics, periodontics, endodontics, prosthodontics, pediatric dentistry, and maxillofacial surgery (also known as facial reconstruction surgery).
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Dentists are required to complete.
- Reviewing patients’ dental history and examining their teeth, gums, and surrounding tissue to diagnose disease, injury, and decay:
- Conducting/ordering and examining pre-assessment tests (e.g. x-rays); and
- operating and monitoring technical equipment.
- Planning and providing appropriate treatment:
- Restoring or extracting diseased and broken teeth, replacing missing ones, removing decay from teeth, filling cavities, installing bridges, and cleaning infections;
- administering dental anaesthesia and nitrous oxide analgesia to limit the amount of patient discomfort experienced during surgical procedures;
- performing root canal treatments, dental implants, and other dental/oral surgeries, such as periodontal surgery;
- placing sealants or whitening agents on teeth;
- making models and measurements for dental appliances, such as dentures;
- prescribing oral and dental medications (e.g. antibiotics) to patients;
- referring patients to other dental specialists, as needed; and
- explaining options and plans to patients.
- Preventing and controlling dental and oral diseases:
- Conducting routine checkups and cleaning teeth or ensuring they have been properly cleaned by a Dental Hygienist/Dental Assistant; and
- preparing dental kits for patients and educating them on oral hygiene (e.g. brushing and flossing) in order to help them achieve continual dental care.
- Maintaining and evaluating patients’ dental records:
- Documenting dental assessment, treatment, and consultations.
- Managing a dental health team (e.g. Dental Hygienists, Dental Technicians, and Dental Assistants) and instructing them on how to implement, coordinate, and evaluate patient care.
- Complying with safety standards at all times, taking precaution measures to avoid infection and contamination:
- Sterilizing dental instruments or ensuring sterilization is done by qualified staff.
- Participating in dental care awareness programs, promoting excellent oral and dental health, sometimes being involved in lectures and conferences.
- Recommending and making significant improvements to current methods, techniques, and procedures (e.g. installation of new equipment or improvements in drug supplies).
- In some cases, taking part in budget preparation and other financing business related activities.
- Reviewing, maintaining, and evaluating patients’ dental records.
- Examining teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues to diagnose disease, injury, and decay.
- Conducting routine checkups and cleaning teeth.
- Restoring, extracting, and replacing teeth, removing decay from teeth, filling cavities, installing bridges, cleaning infections, and correcting abnormal positioning of the teeth and jaws.
- Educating patients on oral hygiene.
The average Dentist salary is $116,033 per year or $60 per hour. This is around 3.5 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $81,000 while most experienced workers make up to $162,000. These results are based on 100 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Excellent interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills:
- Communicating clearly, especially verbally, in order to create a comforting and transparent environment with patients and their relatives, providing answers to their questions and addressing their concerns;
- displaying strong customer service skills, setting high standards of patient care and safety, treating every patient with dignity and respect; and
- being able to manage efficiently and work cohesively as part of a team, dealing with a diverse group of people, always conveying a positive image and building positive relationships with others.
- Great sense of empathy:
- Demonstrating sensitivity to individual needs of patients.
- Strong organizational and time management skills:
- Having strong multitasking skills; being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities; and
- being exceptionally flexible and able to deal with a broad variety of parameters and changing demands in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner using critical thinking and good judgment; and
- being able to analyze, assess, and diagnose the patients’ condition in order to provide them with the proper treatments.
- High levels of manual dexterity and motor coordination:
- Displaying exceptional attention to detail and good hand skills, having outstanding hand-eye coordination; and
- being able to use dental/technical equipment in an accurate and meticulous manner.
- Exceptional professionalism and strong work ethic.
- Great sense of responsibility and reliability.
- Demonstrated proficiency in the use of basic computer applications, including electronic clinical documentation software.
Aside from the skills listed above, Dentists must have earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology, Chemistry, or any other relevant science-oriented program, prior to completing a doctoral degree in Dentistry – also known as a Doctorate of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) –, from a Canadian Dental Association (CDA) accredited university program. They must also complete up to two years of residency training. Furthermore, Dentists who wish to specialize in a specific dentistry area (e.g. pediatric dentistry, maxillofacial radiology, endodontics, or periodontics) will need a specialty post-graduate degree.
Dentists also need to demonstrate an extensive knowledge of dental treatment procedures, equipment, and tools, including latest technology used in dentistry, as well as relevant medical terminology, medications, and preventive measures. They must also comply with current medical principles and policies, along with established procedures and methods, legislations and regulations, as well as health and safety standards.
In Canada, additional credentials are usually required, including, but not limited to, the following:
- National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) Certification;
- Royal College of Dentists of Canada Fellowship (FRCPDC);
- Registration with the provincial/territorial regulatory body;
- Health Care Providers Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (HCP – CPR) Certification; and
- Healing Arts Radiation Protection (HARP) Certification.
Most Dentist positions require between 2 and 5 years of experience formulating treatment plans for individual patients and performing clinical treatments, while more technical positions may require up to 8 years of work experience. Experience working in a public clinic or community care setting is usually preferred, as well as experience working with special needs clients.
In the long run, Dentists can become partners of practices, hospital consultants, or even run their own practices, in which case they will need basic knowledge of business management. These Dentists may choose to get a master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) in addition to their Dentistry degree.