A dentist in general practice must dedicate years of study to prepare for a profession that requires patience, manual dexterity, communication skills, physical stamina and good eye-hand coordination. The demand in the United States may continue to increase until 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the level of pay makes it an attractive occupation. The British Dental Journal reports a demand as well with “68 percent of NHS practices” in England struggling to fill the vacant posts.

Dentistry offers essential services to an aging population and responds to research on oral health and overall well-being. Contemporary practice allows the replacement of teeth with permanent implants hygienically and safely. History reveals that the ancient Chinese and Egyptians used bamboo or copper pegs as tooth replacements. The practice of modern implantology shows an increase in innovations in the 60s and 70s in the United States. A remarkable advance occurred with the “threaded titanium root-form implant,” and innovations continue to improve the options for patients who need to replace a missing tooth.

Examining the Job Profile of a Dentist

Dental schools require students to hold at least a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on science courses. An application to a dental school usually requires students to take the Dental Admission Test that helps schools evaluate the potential for success. Once admitted, dental students pursue coursework in anatomy, anesthesia, periodontics and radiology.

Each dental student receives clinical experience with patients under the guidance of a licensed dental professional. Specialties such as implantology require candidates to train for two or more years that general practitioners do not need. As a doctor of oral health, dentists provide preventative and restorative procedures that protect patients from disease and tooth loss.

Anyone who chooses to study the complex dental field can receive the respect and prestige that goes with the status of earning a doctoral degree. The job profile for such professionals incorporates a high level of education and the ability to provide an essential medical service. The duties promote oral health, prevent pain and contribute to the overall well-being of patients.

Becoming an Implantologist

The American Dental Association recognizes two surgical specialties that require more surgical training than general dental professionals receive. As thoroughly trained and qualified surgeons, they have received specialized training in implantology. General practitioners can obtain training in the techniques as well, but most wait until they have worked in the field for several years before choosing to work as an implantologist.

Understanding the Differences

The preparation for implantology requires instructional coursework, hands-on training with mannequins and working with live patients eventually. Most practitioners refer patients to specialists for the surgery. The dental profession requires high levels of concentration, but a dentist who wants to elevate the requirement to an even higher level may consider implantology. As a highly advanced method of replacing missing teeth, it requires implanting a steel post in the jaw bone to support a cosmetic prosthesis that looks and functions like a natural tooth.

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