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Careers in Dentistry

Dentistry in recent times offers rewarding career opportunities. Dental disorders have become a common problem among all sections of the society. With advancement in science and technologies, the treatment procedures have become specialised. Thus, the profession is both demanding and remunerative, drawing new aspirations to the profession. Dentistry is a professional field which includes dental care and correction. Dentists are concerned with all health problems afflicting the mouth, teeth, gums and other hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity. Technically dentistry is defined “as the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment (nonsurgical, surgical or related procedures) of diseases, disorders and/or conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and/or the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body; provided by a dentist, within the scope of his/her education, training and experience, in accordance with the ethics of the profession and applicable law".

An overview of dentistry

The dental science is always in the dynamic state. The new technologies have escalated the science to a new realm of development. A very frequently asked question is: What is so significant about treating the diseases of the mouth, such a constrained space that it involves so much of studies? To understand this we should raise our thought above the fact that dentistry is not mere treatment of diseases but has a much larger spectrum involved. Today’s modern dentistry involves the complex oro-facial structure like the jaw joint, the oral and surrounding muscles. It has become a multi specialty faculty that deals with complex problems like the cleft palate and lip. The scope also stretches now also to aesthetic dentistry that itself has an array of possibilities. Each branch of dentistry is a speciality in itself bearing a large amount of possibilities. A number of dental allied sciences are into being now, with a large number of professionals involved. Thus in the new era dentistry has limitless possibilities to offer.

Courses & Eligibility

Entrance exam

A candidate should have completed 10+2 years with physics, chemistry and biology as the main subjects with a minimum of 50% marks. He/she has to appear for a combined medical/dental entrance examination conducted at both national and state level. The candidate has to solve multiple choice questions (MCQ’s) in a limited time, the key to success is dedicated work and in-depth knowledge. The student should opt for maximum number of exams at different levels in order to get the best option of choosing his/her future college.

  • National Level – The All India Pre-Medical/Dental Entrance Examination The All India Medical Entrance examination is a national level entrance exam, which incorporates a large number of colleges. The competition is tough and demands a lot of hard work and dedication.
  • State level –State Medical Entrance Exam The entrance exam varies from state to state. Initial information for the particular state is needed.
  • Others Examinations - Many private institutes and deemed universities have their own entrance exams. A candidate interested in appearing for these universities should acquire complete information of the university, its recognition and quality of the course offered.

Bachelor of Dental Surgery

Based on the performance in the entrance examination he/she will be offered a seat in dentistry programmes i.e. Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) at the undergraduate level. This course is of four years duration. After successful completion of the course, he/she will be recognized as a qualified dental surgeon. BDS must be done from a college whose courses are recognized by the Dental Council of India (DCI). The Dental Council of India is the recognizing apex body for dental sciences education in India.

Syllabus

The syllabus at BDS level is a mix of dental and medical subjects. The knowledge of medical subjects is necessary, since a dentist has not only to prescribe medicines but also deal with complex oro-facial structures.

The medical subjects are

  • Anatomy, Histology and Embryology : This involves the gross, microscopic and embryologic development of the body tissues.
  • Biochemistry : Deals with the complex chemical reaction cycles involved in the body process.
  • Physiology : Is the science of the function of the living systems. The scientific method is applied to determine how organisms, organ systems, organs, cells and bio-molecules carry out the chemical or physical function.
  • General Pathology and Microbiology : Pathology involves the study of the abnormalities causing diseases, while microbiology is the study of micro- organisms which are involved in causing diseases and infections.
  • Pharmacology : This is the study of drugs used for treatment purpose. Their action and effect on the body is studied under this subject.
  • General Medicine : Is the study of various medicines, their effect on the disease as well as on the body that occurs concomitantly.
  • General Surgery : The subject teaches the basic principles of surgery. Dentistry being a surgical branch, the basic principles are necessary for improving the dental surgical skills.

Dental Subjects

  • Dental Material Science:This is detailed study of the various dental materials, properties, manipulation/ use, etc. Basic knowledge of physics and chemistry is a must.
  • Oral Anatomy and Histology: Oral anatomy involves the detailed study of the structures of the oral cavity, while oral histology includes the microscopic details of the oral and dental tissues.
  • Oral Pathology: The pathology/diseases and abnormalities of the oral cavity are studied. This helps in understanding the patient’s problem and treatment.
  • Community Dentistry: All doctors have certain social responsibilities in the community. Since the dentist is directly involved in treatment, there are certain legal issues and ethical principles that need to be followed.
  • Oral Medicine, Diagnosis and Radiology: This includes the knowledge of the various drugs used to treat the oral and related disorders/diseases inclusive of the study of the diseases. Radiology is the study of the X-rays and other diagnostic techniques for the study of dental disorders.
  • Prosthodontics: Prosthesis is an artificial substitute used for the replacement of the missing/lost normal body tissues. Thus prosthodontics is the study and construction of oral prosthesis.
  • Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery: The treatments of certain oral and dental diseases need surgical procedures. Even a simple tooth extraction is a surgical procedure.
  • Periodontics: The tooth is surrounded by supporting structure, the supporting bone and the gums. If the supporting structures are not healthy even the healthy teeth may be lost due to the weak tooth structure.
  • Pedodontics: This is a specialised branch of dentistry, which deals with the knowledge and the treatment of the diseases in children.
  • Conservative dentistry: The speciality deals with the conservation of the tooth structure during the treatment of dental diseases like dental decay. It involves the restoring and conservation of the lost tooth structure.
  • Endodontics: Is the treatment and the study of the diseases of the dental pulp. The tooth has a soft tissue core called the dental pulp which forms the nerve and supplies blood to the tooth. But when the tooth pulp gets diseased it has to be treated with different root canal procedures or treatment.
  • Orthodontics: This includes the study and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.

This requires persistent reading and continuous up-gradation of knowledge. Along with theoretical knowledge, clinical experience and expertise is very essential.

Clinical experience: Social skills for daily interaction with various kinds of patients plus maintenance of hygiene while treating them should be inculcated right from the beginning of the dental curriculum. You can evolve into a professional par excellence by channelizing the positive energies and sincere efforts.

Internship

After the completion of the four years of study, the student has to complete at least a year of internship. During the internship, the student uses the knowledge and the skills acquired in treating the patients. Student can work with a senior dentist to acquire practical skills.

After Graduation

After graduation, the student is qualified to practice as a doctor, but there is need to continuously upgrade skills with continued education. The options before you are to start your own private practice but for this you need both capital and experience, another option is to work as an associate with a senior dentist.
You can work in hospital; here one is associated with a complete dental hospital or the dental fraternity of a medical hospital. The experience gained, however depends on the kind and the inflow of the patient.

The armed forces are another job option. The opportunity with the armed forces is attractive and provides you to serve the country with commitment and dedication. The service can be short lived or for a life time, depending upon your performance and personal choice.

Further Education

Another option is further education after graduation studies for specialization these can be either short-term courses or a masters degree. Your academic background helps you attain a better institutional position.

The master’s degree can be specialization in the field of dentistry itself or it can be a mix of the dental bioscience with the specialization of your choice like a management course or biomedical engineering, etc. But this can steer you away from clinical practice.

Short Term Courses

1) Certificate courses:

These courses may be conducted by universities or conducted privately by professionals. These courses are based on the advances and new innovative treatment modalities. They may be about the clinical practice management, or management of medical emergencies. The subject chosen is based on the personal priorities and other considerations of the dentist.

IDA also conducts courses that are well organized and recognized short-term hands- on courses imparted by specialists in the field. IDA strives to provide its members the additional edge to sustain the competition.

2) IDA Conducted Short Courses

Commitment to dental excellence is a long standing motto of IDA. And excellence of our members is our main concern, for which various activities are conducted. The most significant of these is the CDE programmes and the hands-on courses provided by IDA to give you and your practice the additional edge.

Post Graduation/Masters in dentistry

One who wants to continue his/her study further after basic graduation can pursue Master in Dental Surgery (MDS) which is of 3 years duration. The selection is based on the score you get in the national, state or deemed university entrance examinations.
The post-graduate studies enhance the academic interests, but skills as a doctor sharpen with clinical practice and subsequent short courses for upgradation. Getting a masters degree not only enhances skills but also makes the professional eligible to hold position as professor/ reader and subsequently higher posts like that of HOD and even Dean. The post graduate subjects are segregated under two broad categories, clinical or non-clinical.

Clinical

The clinical subjects are involved in treatment of diseases; these involve clinical work on the patient. Master degree – specialization can be obtained in the following clinical subjects:

  • Prosthodontics & Maxillofacial prosthodontics : This relates to providing prosthesis (artificial substitutes) for the missing dental and oral structures. A prosthodontist replaces the missing dental structures, with the various kinds of appliances custom made for the patient. He/she also replaces complex oro-facial structures. These are used to treat patients with congenital defects (birth defects) or post-surgery treatment particularly in cancer patients.
  • Oral Surgery & Maxillofacial Surgery : Is a purely surgical branch, deals with dental surgical treatment and oral diseases. Oral surgeon can be referred from simplest surgical procedure of tooth extraction to complex surgical procedures that require extensive surgery. A purely surgical branch, the degree of expertise required is large and along with a great deal of medical knowledge. The medical knowledge is necessary to evaluate the general health/fitness of the patient to undergo surgery as well as to handle any medical emergency that arises during the procedure.
  • Pedodontics : The term ‘pedo’ or ‘peds’ implies children, thus pedodontics or pediatric dentistry is the branch of dentistry dealing with children. The oral health concerns for children vary from adults. The main focus is on prevention. It takes into consideration the growth and development of the dental and oro- facial structures of the child. A pedodontist must be able to understand the child psychology and successfully handle the kid.
  • Conservative dentistry & Endodntics : Technological advancement has resulted in conservation of the natural teeth. And this exactly is dealt in the branch of conservative dentistry. The procedures involved are filling of carious tooth, building and restoring of the broken or diseased teeth. The procedure is done bearing in mind that optimal treatment is provided without causing loss of tooth structure. Restoration of the tooth aesthetics also comes under the jurisdiction of this branch, although aesthetic dentistry is a multi speciality discipline. The initial half ‘endo’ indicates that it involves treatment of dental pulp diseases. The pulp damage occurs due to advanced dental caries that reaches the pulp.Thus, an endodontist is a specialist who is skilled in procedures for restoration and protection of the tooth.
  • Periodontics : ‘Peri’ suggests around something and ‘odontos’ means tooth, so periodontics means the surrounding structures of the tooth. These would be the gums and the supporting bone, without which the function of the tooth is lost. A periodontist undertakes all the procedures for the teeth’s health. These can be as simple as scaling of teeth or as complex as a periodontal surgery.
  • Orthodontics : This specialization involves the perfect alignment of teeth but also the proper growth of the teeth and jaws. Many people have problems with the alignment of their teeth, which is desirable from aesthetic and also functional position.
Non-clinical
  • Oral Medicine and Radiology: Oral diseases at times do not need surgical treatment but medicines to cure them, eg: mouth ulcers, allergies etc. Oral medicine is the branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis and medical treatment of oral diseases. Since radiology i.e. the X ray examination is a part of the diagnosis of a disease thus radiology is included in this subject. However it is not only related to the X rays but also different radiations and techniques used in the imaging of the oral structures to help in diagnosis of the disease.
  • Oral Pathology: Oral pathology basically deals with the pathologies of the dental and oral tissues. Pathology is abnormality in the tissue. The study is based on the microscopic examination of the pathologic tissues. Also assays and chemical analysis help to diagnose the disease. Since the study involves the microscopic examination and the histological examinations and other tests for the diagnosis of the disease it does not involve direct patient treatment, hence is a non- clinical branch. An oral pathologist apart from having his/her own practice can have a lab for investigation. He/she can associate with dental and medical hospitals as consulting pathologists. Apart from these options one can become a professor and enter into the academic field.
  • Community Dentistry: Community dentistry is a branch of dentistry that deals with the social aspect of dentistry. A community dentist is involved in activities like community research, statistical, service, and other activities to serve the community. Career wise the community dentist can get associated with the government and non- government organizations and also with the international organizations like the United Nations, World Health Organisation, etc. for the purpose of serving people. The career prospects of a community dentist are great. Apart from serving the community, the dentist can also become a professor, lecturer associated with any dental schools. An evolving course in India, the competition in this field is relatively less, so the chances of a fast development of the dentist are bright. The dentist must be social, affectionate and communicative to create social awareness.
  • Forensic Odontology: This branch is becoming important, which can be attributed to the developments in the forensic science methodology. The forensic sciences are related to crime related investigations, using evaluation and investigations related to evidences that are related to the oral cavity at the crime scene, for instance, bite marks, saliva, etc.
  • Dental Materials Science: Dental materials are the materials that are used in various kinds of treatments. This is an area of tremendous possibilities for research and development, as there is a continuous technological upgradation, quality assessment of the dental materials to make them less reactive and toxic for the patient. A dental material expert can work for companies manufacturing dental materials; these could be national and international. The course is still in the primordial stage in India and needs a lot of further development. The universities available abroad provide very good courses related to the dental materials sciences and can also provide a good scope for the professionals overseas. The last two subjects mentioned above are yet to be started in India as a post graduation degree.

Post Graduation in other streams-

Management:

Management is required in the slightest of the business to the huge corporate. Even you were to start a clinic, the way that you can amplify the outcomes is by the proper management of the practice. For a dentist if you opt for management course, this will open avenues in health industry, pharma industries, health insurance. This gives you an edge of continuous growth.

Studies abroad All the courses which deal with specialty programmes in US, Canada and UK are recognized in India. There are no specific norms laid by DCI regarding courses involving research activities.

You need to fulfil certain criteria for study abroad; the information is given on the government sites of the particular country.

Visa

F-1 and M-1 Student Visas : Students seeking to pursue a full course of study at a school in the United States may be eligible for a visa for the course of their study plus, in some cases, a period for practical training in their field of study.

J-1 and Q-1 Exchange Visitor Visas : Students coming to the US in an approved exchange programme may be eligible for the J-1 Exchange Visitor's visa. J-1 programmes often cover students, short-term scholars, business trainees, teachers, professors and research scholars, specialists, international visitors, government visitors and camp counsellors.

Finances

Different universities offer different financial costs in addition to tuition fees which includes:

  1. Enrolment services
  2. Student registration
  3. Health insurance &services

The lifestyle adds to the cost of education. So choosing the country and university is of utmost importance for making it affordable. Loans and grants are available from various banks and financial institutions to finance courses.

Interest

The course details are available on the concerned universities websites along with the display of all the subjects. An overview can help you frame the course gist and the kind of work you will be engaged in.

Exams
US

You can get a bachelor’s degree from an accredited US or Canadian college or university including all prerequisite courses, DAT, and a recommended GPA of 3.2 or higher. Alternatively, one may also apply with 90 credits (including all prerequisite courses) and a GPA of 3.5 or higher from an accredited college or university from the US or Canada.

• Note: International students must complete, by the time of admission, a degree from an accredited US college in order to be considered for admission to the NYUCD four- year DDS programme.

Required Courses (including lab) in US :
  • (1 year/ 6–8 semester hrs)
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • English

As part of the application process applicants are required to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT).

Note: The ADA can provide us with an electronic upload of your DAT scores. NYUCD prefers to receive the scores electronically rather than via mail. Letters of Evaluation (required)

  • One Pre-Health Advisors Committee letter (preferred).
  • Three (3) letters of evaluation, two of which must be from science faculty members.
  • A non-refundable $75 application processing fee is required.
  • National boards I / II (if applicable)
  • TOEFL
  • GRE

UK

The (General Dental Council) GDC started the Overseas Registration Examination (ORE) in September 2007.The ORE will be in two parts:

Part One will consist of:
  • - a written paper covering clinical applied dental science and clinically applied human disease; and
  • - a written paper in aspects of clinical dentistry, law and ethics, and health and safety.
Part Two will consist of:
  • - an examination on a dental mannequin;
  • - an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) that tests candidates' clinical skills;
  • - an examination designed to test candidates' diagnostic and treatment planning skills; and
  • - a medical emergencies examination.

New candidates applying to sit the ORE must demonstrate that they have at least 1,600 hours clinical experience where they have personally treated patients in the dental chair. This experience can be gained during the undergraduate degree, during post- qualification experience, or a combination of both. Candidates will have to verify this experience by providing references from University Dental Deans or employers.

Current IQE candidates can transfer cross to the new exam; and those who have passed Part A of the IQE will be exempt from the first paper in Part One of the new exam. Those who choose not to transfer will be limited to two attempts at each part of the IQE before being automatically transferred to the new exam.

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