What’s the first thing that draws you to anyone? The smile, isn’t it? A smile is said to be the window to the soul. So how about being a dentist and crafting a beautiful smile or educating the general public about good oral hygiene? No? Then, how about working with the likes of Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen and Yukta Mookhey, whitening their teeth or giving them a gummy smile? There we have your attention!
Come on then, ‘brush up’ your knowledge of the field…
Though dentistry has not been a high profile career choice among students, it is coming of age as the concepts of oral hygiene and other health implications is catching up. So dentists these days are assuming very important roles in the whole healthcare system.
The core function of a dentist is prevention and treatment of diseases related to the oral cavity, including the floor of the oral cavity, the 'roof' of the mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, etc.
A dentist, in a way is also an artist. That's because a dentist can actually fashion your teeth in such a way that you get that dimpled or gummy smile. That's when he gets time from his routine job of root canal treatment, extraction of cavities, treatment of gums and diseases, aligning and straightening teeth, etc.
A dentist's job doesn't end with treating diseases of teeth and gums. It also involves educating patients about oral hygiene. For this you have to be a good talker.
If you opt to be a dentist your clinic will be brimming with scream and shouts of both kids as well as adults. It's your responsibility to make sure that the patient is relaxed and comfortable before you introduce him to the hall of pain.
As a dentist you could also specialise in Orthodontics, Periodontics, Pedodontics, Endodontics, Restorative Dentistry, Oral and Maxillofacial surgery, Cosmetic Dentistry, Oral Pathology, Forensic Odontology, etc.
Now let's take a close look at each one of them:
Orthodontists are involved in supervision, guidance, and correction of anomalies in the growing or mature dental and oral skeletal structures.
Periodontists are involved in the etiology, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases of the gums and teeth. They use techniques like dental implants to prevent and cure the diseases.
Pediatric Dentists or Pedodontists are concerned with dentistry related to children. Preventive measures for dental anomalies, diseases and prevention, intervention, and correction of various problems fall under this category.
Endodontists are specialists dealing with the physiology and pathology of the dental tissues. Its practice encompasses biology of dental tissues, etiology, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the dental tissues.
Restorative Dentists are involved in dental fixtures like false teeth, operative dentistry, and other related areas.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are concerned with the surgery of the oral cavity and associated structures. They also treat diseases, injuries, and deformities of the teeth, jaws, and associated structures with the help of surgery.
Cosmetic dentists are involved with the cosmetic aspects of the teeth and gums. They work to enhance the beauty of these by correcting anomalies if any.
Oral pathologists are involved with the pathology of the oral cavity. They analyse the oral tissue samples, gum secretions, and other related materials to identify causes of oral diseases.
Forensic odontologists work with the forensic department of an investigating agency or in a university department. They analyse samples of teeth from mysterious death or homicide cases.
You could also be involved in research like finding out the correlation between oral diseases and heart problems, oral diseases and diabetes, oral diseases and respiratory ailments, causes of oral cancer, etc. Another area of research could be the synthesis and analysis of new polymers, composites and ceramics for oral applications or electrical stimulation of the muscles of mastication.
- Analytical and logical reasoning skill should be above average
- Good scientific reasoning skill
- Ability to memorise and recall scientific facts
- Investigative personality
- Hardworking and patient
- Cool temperament
- You need at least a BDS degree to practice dentistry. If you want your career to grow, then you will have to be a specialist with an MDS degree.
- After the mandatory one-year internship you can enroll with the Dental Association of India based in Delhi if you want to set up your own practice.
- Keeping up with the trends in other medical sciences and a specialisation in the Postgraduate level will make your prospects better.
Apart from a job in a hospital or setting up your clinic, you could also work in the Research and Advisory functions of a pharmaceutical and other company producing oral care products and medicines like toothpaste, mouth wash, gum care products, etc.
Dental surgeons (Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon) earn good money at the peak of their career.
Opportunities also lie in the realms of forensic science. You could be at the forefront of solving great mysteries by merely identifying the teeth composition and the age of the tooth.
Teeth being host to bacteria and food particles can be analysed extensively and detailed conclusions are established regarding the climatic conditions, the food habits of the creature, so much so that even detailed DNA studies can be conducted from them.
Besides that, opportunities to work as a dental consultant to models and film artists also fetch a lot of money.
Alternatively, you could also work in companies producing toothpastes and toothbrushes. From suggesting alternative formulae for pastes and powders, to upgrading the existing products, dentists have a lot to do here. Needless to say the fee charged by the dentist can be pretty stupendous.
For those who are academically inclined, working as a full or part-time lecturer in any of the reputed dental institutes can be a lucrative option.
You can also do research work in oral cancer. This has gained tremendous momentum in the recent years and is definitely a well-paying job.
MONEY & OTHER BENEFITS
If you think you'll start earning big bucks right after college, read on. You'll begin as an apprentice with an established dentist for a pittance. But before we have one less dentist in the world, let me tell you that the pay increases with experience. Once you earn a reputation you could be charging anywhere between Rs 500 to a few thousand rupees per patient.
If you are a private practitioner your earning will depend on the place you choose to practice. If it's a rich locality you can rake in more money even by choosing to see only a few patients. But if you happen to practise in Colaba or Malabar Hill, you could make good money as against a clinic in Dombivli. Get the point? An established dentist makes around Rs.20,000 - 1,00,000 or more a month.
You can also get a job in a government hospital/corporate/private dental hospital. The salary offered will vary between Rs 4,000-8,000 a month.
It will take time to establish yourself. You will have to work hard the initial years.
Working in a government or private dental hospital in a remote area has its negative aspects.
The workload often is far less than a doctor in the emergency department of a hospital. So you have some time to relax.
Career Options for Medical Graduates
Student aid Publications
A Comprehensive Guide To Clinical Dentistry
All India publishers distributors
Ashok's Public Health and Preventive Dentistry