Category: Dr. Advocate's Insights
Did you know that the majority of dental professionals are general dentists? Of course, many would say yes! However, did you know that there are 12 different dental specialties?
For example, a pedodontist cares for kids’ teeth and patients with special needs, whereas an endodontist manages dental pain and performs root canals. It’s easy to get them confused, so we’ll highlight every specialty to prepare you better the next time you need to visit one. We’ll also look at the dental profession and its role in treating and managing oral health issues.
According to a recent study from the American Dental Association (ADA), about 200k dentists practice in the United States, which translates to about 61 dentists per 100k people; however, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), there’s a current shortage of 10k dentists in the United States.Related: Projected Supply of Dentists in the United States 2020-2040
Why is this information relevant? First, assessing the adequacy of the dental workforce aids in the long-term availability of dentists to support the growing population. Dentists graduate from an accredited dental school to practice as general dentists or complete further education and training to become dental specialists.
Did you know that in 2020, U.S. News and World Report ranked dentistry as the second-best career in the U.S.?
Before admission into dental school, students must complete three or more years of undergraduate education. Also, students are required to complete the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), which tests their knowledge compared to other applicants. The DAT has four sections, natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning.
Most dental schools require four years of training and education. After acceptance into dental school, the first two years consist of coursework, including studying the human body, specifically the head and neck region. Also, students develop their hand skills while working on dummy patients in a simulation lab.
The last two years consist of further education, courses, and clinical training in a group practice setting. Dentists must pass a national written exam and regional clinical licensure exam upon completing their training before practicing. Continuing education is also required to learn about scientific and clinical developments.
After a dentist graduates from an accredited dental school, they receive a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry) degree. Other than a difference in name, both degrees require the exact curriculum requirements and achievements. It’s up to the universities to determine what degree to award.
As of 2021, there are 12 dental specialties about 1 in 5 professionally active dentists (21.1%) are credentialed to practice as a dental specialist. However, becoming a dental specialist requires more training – in some cases, as many as six more years of training and education.
DDS and DMD dentists may have different degrees, but their expertise and skills are comparable. So what degree does your dentist have? Check it out the next time you’re in the dental chair.
The more you know, the more healthy habits you can develop, saving you and your family from avoidable and potentially expensive dental procedures. Talk to your dental professional for more suggestions on improving oral health and check back for more blog posts and relevant information. Please share this site and let us know what else you’d like to know!