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Return to book index Chapter 4 : Matrices and Determinants
Dentist

Dentist

Dentists diagnose, treat, and prevent problems with the teeth, tissues and bone located in the mouth. Dentists may do routine cleanings, fill cavities, repair cracked teeth, and straighten teeth. They also treat gum and bone disease with corrective surgery and medication. Dentists replace missing teeth with dentures, bridges, crowns and implants.

Most dentists work in a private practice. In addition to providing the services mentioned above, they may also acquire equipment, direct business activities, and supervise a staff of dental hygienists, dental assistants, laboratory technicians, and administrative assistants.

Most dentists are general practitioners. This means that they handle a wide variety of dentistry needs. Other dentists work in an area of specialization. These include orthodontists, oral surgeons, periodontists (treatment of gum and bone problems), prosthodontists (artificial teeth), pediatric dentists (dentistry for children), endodontics (root canals), and oral pathologists (disease of the mouth).

Education and Training

In the U.S., dentists may need the following education and training:

  • a bachelor's degree plus a graduate degree from an accredited dental school
  • a license to practice is required in all states and is granted after candidates fulfill the educational requirements and pass a written and practical examination

On the Job

Most dentists work in a private practice with a small staff of assistants. Others work in group practices, clinics, and hospitals. They may work evening hours to accommodate patients' schedules. Dentists should enjoy working with others and providing advice and treatment for their patients. Dentists are increasingly sensitive to the need for patient comfort and pain control.

Math on the Job

Dentists use diagnostic skills on a regular basis. Their jobs require an emphasis on observation, visualization, questioning, detail, and logical thought. Many of these skills are developed through the process of learning mathematics. Dentists may use mathematics to determine specific treatment plans or as part of the day-to-day activities of running a business.

Related Careers

  • dental hygienist
  • oral surgeon
  • orthodontist
  • dental laboratory technician

You can get more information about dentistry from the American Dental Association (ADA)