Studying and Practicing Dentistry: General Discussion

laerla

Member
Yea I do like the aspect of the work-life balance as well as dentistry is complex and is a challenge which i like. But again im not sure if i could see myself doing it for the rest of my life sadly.
yeah make sure you think it through. All jokes aside about money, I think bottom line is you gotta enjoy helping people too, because as a dentist, that's what we do. So many times, after patients see what you have done for them, they are in tears of joy. And they may have spent you know, tens of thousands of dollars to get it done. But it helps them to get their confidence back, they can smile again, or they can eat their favourite food again etc. That makes me feel it's all worthwhile at the end of the day for me, to help the patients, and also getting rewarded for the hard work that we do also.
 

medlad12

Member
yeah make sure you think it through. All jokes aside about money, I think bottom line is you gotta enjoy helping people too, because as a dentist, that's what we do. So many times, after patients see what you have done for them, they are in tears of joy. And they may have spent you know, tens of thousands of dollars to get it done. But it helps them to get their confidence back, they can smile again, or they can eat their favourite food again etc. That makes me feel it's all worthwhile at the end of the day for me, to help the patients, and also getting rewarded for the hard work that we do also.
yea that sounds like you have a great passion for it. The patient satisfaction is one of the reasons i want to do medicine but idk why but i feel like i wouldnt get teh same from dentistry, even though both involve helping someone. Have you heard of anyone in dentistry gaining a passion for it after they've done it for a while, or is this very uncommon?
 

Tomato

Regular Member
Have you heard of anyone in dentistry gaining a passion for it after they've done it for a while, or is this very uncommon?

Passion can be developped. Many people gain the passion for dentistry after they've done it for some time, provided they have a reasonably good dexterity and get used to working in a small space (oral cavity). :D
 

Crow

Medical Student
Emeritus Staff
Have you heard of anyone in dentistry gaining a passion for it after they've done it for a while, or is this very uncommon?
I personally wouldn’t pursue a career I don’t have an interest in with the hopes that I would subsequently develop an interest once I’m working in the field. Not to say this isn’t possible, but it seems like setting oneself up for failure from my point of view.
 

laerla

Member
yea that sounds like you have a great passion for it. The patient satisfaction is one of the reasons i want to do medicine but idk why but i feel like i wouldnt get teh same from dentistry, even though both involve helping someone. Have you heard of anyone in dentistry gaining a passion for it after they've done it for a while, or is this very uncommon?
Depends what kind of passion you're talking about. Are you talking about passion for dentistry itself, passion to work as a dentist, or just passion about work in general?
For me, my passion for dentistry is prob 50/50. I love learning new tools/technologies eg. laser/digital dentistry/implants etc. But I don't enjoy learning about the chemistry/science behind it, although obviously we still have to learn it, but I prob fall asleep real quick.
If you're asking about working as a dentist, then absolutely. Dentist change a lot of people's lives for the better, and we get rewarded well, while having a good work-life balance.
If you mean work in general, then no. I don't like waking up at 6am on weekdays when I have to go to work lol. If I had hundreds of billions of dollar, would I still work the hours and days that I do now? Definitely not. Maybe I would still work one day a week, because there are some very nice patients who over the years we have built a good relationship and we trust each other, so I would still want to be their dentist, but I definitely don't want to see those patients who just don't show up to appointments, or who are rude to staff etc.

So I guess at the end of the day, it depends what you mean by "passion".
Some dentists just work for a few years, then open a practice, and decided they don't want to see patients anymore because they don't like it. So they just focus on being the practice owner, doing admin stuffs. Then they might expand and open more practices.
Or, some general dentists just focus on the areas that they enjoy doing, eg. surgery (wisdom teeth, implants), full mouth rehabiliation etc. They just end up doing one particular thing, and they refer the rest to their colleagues/specialists etc.
 

medlad12

Member
Depends what kind of passion you're talking about. Are you talking about passion for dentistry itself, passion to work as a dentist, or just passion about work in general?
For me, my passion for dentistry is prob 50/50. I love learning new tools/technologies eg. laser/digital dentistry/implants etc. But I don't enjoy learning about the chemistry/science behind it, although obviously we still have to learn it, but I prob fall asleep real quick.
If you're asking about working as a dentist, then absolutely. Dentist change a lot of people's lives for the better, and we get rewarded well, while having a good work-life balance.
If you mean work in general, then no. I don't like waking up at 6am on weekdays when I have to go to work lol. If I had hundreds of billions of dollar, would I still work the hours and days that I do now? Definitely not. Maybe I would still work one day a week, because there are some very nice patients who over the years we have built a good relationship and we trust each other, so I would still want to be their dentist, but I definitely don't want to see those patients who just don't show up to appointments, or who are rude to staff etc.

So I guess at the end of the day, it depends what you mean by "passion".
Some dentists just work for a few years, then open a practice, and decided they don't want to see patients anymore because they don't like it. So they just focus on being the practice owner, doing admin stuffs. Then they might expand and open more practices.
Or, some general dentists just focus on the areas that they enjoy doing, eg. surgery (wisdom teeth, implants), full mouth rehabiliation etc. They just end up doing one particular thing, and they refer the rest to their colleagues/specialists etc.
yea those are great point.

Like i dont know if its something id genuinely be excited to do when i wake up in the morning, whereas id be genuinely excited to go work in a hospital. Like the other day I was at the hospital and while everyone was on lunch break i just explored the hospital cause there were so many doors open haha (didnt go near any sections that were off limits) and i walked past doctors and nurses and it just felt so coool and exciting to be see a team like that. Maybe im considering dentistry as i dont want to feel disheartened if i dont get into medicine on the first try haha.
 

chinaski

Regular Member
Methinks there's more than just a touch of being influenced by the perceived prestige of a job going on here...
 

dotwingz

Google Enthusiast
Moderator
I personally wouldn’t pursue a career I don’t have an interest in with the hopes that I would subsequently develop an interest once I’m working in the field. Not to say this isn’t possible, but it seems like setting oneself up for failure from my point of view.
Food for thought but did you have significant medical experience before you decided your route? Most people don’t, especially with undergrad schools. I would think most people develop their interest in the field (and their specific niche in that field) whilst already on pathway there. As long as OP understands when to quit and find something else that suits them better if it doesn’t pan out, I don’t see the issue.

Also dont see how it doesn’t apply to dentistry as it does to medicine. Especially because OPs experience in Medicine seems so surface level as they’re still wrapped up in the novelty of working for a hospital like seeing how many doors there was.
 

chinaski

Regular Member
Food for thought but did you have significant medical experience before you decided your route? Most people don’t, especially with undergrad schools. I would think most people develop their interest in the field (and their specific niche in that field) whilst already on pathway there. As long as OP understands when to quit and find something else that suits them better if it doesn’t pan out, I don’t see the issue.

Also dont see how it doesn’t apply to dentistry as it does to medicine. Especially because OPs experience in Medicine seems so surface level as they’re still wrapped up in the novelty of working for a hospital like seeing how many doors there was.
The ability to diversify within medicine is far greater than in dentistry. If you don't like the idea of being a surgeon, you can opt for non-procedural specialities. You can pursue sub-specialisation within one body system or disorder, or be a generalist - and so on. Nobody starts medical school locked into one stream or body system.

Conversely, in dentistry, you don't venture outside of the mouth. As such, you're dealing with a much narrower spectrum of choice when it comes to finding your "perfect fit". If you do dentistry and discover you don't have an abiding interest in oral health, it's not as though you can decide to be a gastroenterologist instead.
 

Wolverine

Member
Maybe im considering dentistry as i dont want to feel disheartened if i dont get into medicine on the first try haha.
A lot of those applying to medicine seem to apply to dentistry as a back up, thinking that the professions are quite similar, when in reality they are largely different. While it is always good to have a back up career should medicine not work out, it is important to consider whether the merits of dentistry itself are enough to pursue the career and not place it as a default alternative should one not be successful in gaining entry to medicine.
 

Unluckydude

Regular Member
yea those are great point.

Like i dont know if its something id genuinely be excited to do when i wake up in the morning, whereas id be genuinely excited to go work in a hospital. Like the other day I was at the hospital and while everyone was on lunch break i just explored the hospital cause there were so many doors open haha (didnt go near any sections that were off limits) and i walked past doctors and nurses and it just felt so coool and exciting to be see a team like that. Maybe im considering dentistry as i dont want to feel disheartened if i dont get into medicine on the first try haha.
Personally, I think you can have dentistry as a backup even if you're not extremely passionate about it. However, you need to at least:

1) Have a good understanding of what a dentist does.
and
2) You can see yourself doing dentistry as a job for the rest of your life.

A lot of those applying to medicine seem to apply to dentistry as a back up, thinking that the professions are quite similar, when in reality they are largely different. While it is always good to have a back up career should medicine not work out, it is important to consider whether the merits of dentistry itself are enough to pursue the career and not place it as a default alternative should one not be successful in gaining entry to medicine.
It might be a good idea for Australian dental schools to make shadowing part of the application. It always surprises me how little some of my classmates know about dentistry. Sometimes it even get to the point that it is funny to hear what some pre-clinical dental students think a dentist does. On the other hand, there are many people who think dentists just clean people's teeth and do fillings while the reality is that some general dentists in large clinics don't even do scale and clean.
 

ponyswordz

UAdel BDS (2020-2024)
Valued Member
Just wanted to add a few points about dentistry VS medicine topic (disclaimer: i have a slight bias in preference towards dentistry)

1) Dentistry is a career that requires a lot of manual dexterity. When an occupation has a need for such requirements, you have the capability to make an immediate impact on a PT's life within the span of 20 minutes to a few hours on the dental chair. If you feel like you would gain satisfaction through the work you do with your hands (and not just through administration of medications -> ofc, this is just a generalisation and the medical field is definitely much more than this -> eg. surgery in hospitals), dentistry is a much more rewarding in that aspect.

2) Similar to above point, dentistry is a physically-demanding career which can predispose you to a lot of back injuries if you do not look after your body well from an ergonomic perspective. Whilst the core of a healthcare profession is to look after and provide your PTs with the best care possible, not being able to look after your body can potentially put an early end to your career. Similarly in medicine, I have heard rumours of on-call shifts being 24-36 hrs potentially in early residency years (ofc, this is not often the case but if sleep & lifestyle is an important priority for you, it might be something to consider)

3) In the medical field, you tend to see doctors mostly when you are sick or injured (unless you are getting vaccines/blood tests/x-rays, etc.) In dentistry, the amount of times you encounter sick PTs is a rarer which means that there may be potentially less transmission of disease/illness to you (ofc ->oral conditions, aerosol particles, bad breath is something to consider in the dental setting but I don't often hear about dentists contracting sickness from PTs as compared with doctors). As a general dentist, you do a lot of prevention treatment for PTs (eg. checkups, fissure sealants, cleans, oral hygiene instruction, fluoride varnishes/gels/foams/tooth mouse) which then help to reduce the need for surgical intervention (eg. fillings, root canal, implants, crowns, bridges, etc.). Generally you do more prevention in dentistry compared to medicine.

4) As dentists, there are quite a number of similarities to the medical field. You have to learn a lot about physiology (eg. how does blood pressure contribute to stress levels of PTs in dental chair, orthostatic hypotension, immune response -> how that leads to inflammed gums, etc.), medications (a PT's medical history plays a key role in whether you perform certain dental treatments or not - indications/contraindications as well as management in case a medical emergency occurs) & pathology (NOTE: dentists are often able to diagnose illnesses earlier than doctors just by looking at facial features & inside the mouth -> eg. oral cancers, GIT reflux disease, mouth lesions -> they can then refer to medical GPs/specialists and potentially save a PT's life before their condition worsens)

This is not an exhaustive list. I am only a 2nd year dental student and some of the things I state about the medical field may not be fully accurate but this is me generally speaking from the many experiences I have encountered throughout the course.
 

Appleton

Dental Student
3) In the medical field, you tend to see doctors mostly when you are sick or injured (unless you are getting vaccines/blood tests/x-rays, etc.) In dentistry, the amount of times you encounter sick PTs is a rarer which means that there may be potentially less transmission of disease/illness to you (ofc ->oral conditions, aerosol particles, bad breath is something to consider in the dental setting but I don't often hear about dentists contracting sickness from PTs as compared with doctors). As a general dentist, you do a lot of prevention treatment for PTs (eg. checkups, fissure sealants, cleans, oral hygiene instruction, fluoride varnishes/gels/foams/tooth mouse) which then help to reduce the need for surgical intervention (eg. fillings, root canal, implants, crowns, bridges, etc.). Generally you do more prevention in dentistry compared to medicine.
Not discounting your well-thought out response and experiences so far, but as you progress into the later years of your course, you may find the opposite to be true. Far too many patients only turn up for emergency appointments and they leave, never to be found again, the moment you obturate/extract the symptomatic tooth. Outside of school, you may find that the preventive treatments are mostly performed by the hygienists/OHTs instead of the dentist. In that respect, dentists are sadly guilty of being more so surgeons than diagnosticians.

I once spoke to an Ortho-in-training who said [she] only got into the field because it was the almost the only field of dentistry that had patients who were looking forward to coming in (ie. people who were wanting their teeth straightened). Apparently it's exhausting to treat patients who present with pain (and the associated stress, negativity and financial worry) everyday haha. Who knew?

In my experience, the type of patients you see vary greatly with the settings that you work in. Anywhere from regional areas, working with high risk groups, medically compromised groups, hospital settings (oncology units?), private/public practice will each provide their own unique set of challenges. People tend to pigeonhole dentists' work life because they only see what they're exposed to.
 

Unluckydude

Regular Member
Not discounting your well-thought out response and experiences so far, but as you progress into the later years of your course, you may find the opposite to be true. Far too many patients only turn up for emergency appointments and they leave, never to be found again, the moment you obturate/extract the symptomatic tooth. Outside of school, you may find that the preventive treatments are mostly performed by the hygienists/OHTs instead of the dentist. In that respect, dentists are sadly guilty of being more so surgeons than diagnosticians.
I think as you said, “the type of patients you see vary greatly with the settings that you work in”. Dental students do their placements in public dental clinics where the patients can have very bad oral health. People with high SES on average have better teeth and don’t wait for things to go that bad m. That being said, I know a few dentists who work in some of the most affluent suburbs and they told me that many of their patients are exactly what you described, they only make dental appointments when they are in pain.


In dentistry, the amount of times you encounter sick PTs is a rarer which means that there may be potentially less transmission of disease/illness to you

Even though the chance of getting infected might be lower compared to some medical specialities, it’s still a risky job. I remember when COVID first broke out last year, I read an article saying that out of the 24 medical professionals who died of COVID in Indonesia, six of them were dentists. That is a very high number considering that the ratio of doctor to dentist is around 7-8 to 1 in Australia (please correct me if I’m wrong). Additionally, needle and sharp injuries are common. I’m not sure if all medical specialists do as many invasive procedures (thus the risk of needle injury) as we do.

 

cocodreams

Regular Member
What are other full-time or part-time jobs can a person do with a dental qualification/as a dentist? I have heard being a practice manager or clinical instructor at a university, but I am curious about other options :)
 

Unluckydude

Regular Member
What are other full-time or part-time jobs can a person do with a dental qualification/as a dentist? I have heard being a practice manager or clinical instructor at a university, but I am curious about other options :)
-public health expert and government policy advisor (look up Matthew Hopcraft)
-researcher
-some pharmaceutical companies and dental material supplier (eg: align technology)
-admin in dental organisations (eg: ADA, Dental council)
-jobs that do not require professional training (eg: taxi drivers, CEO, athletes, bartenders ), but I don't think this what you're asking

But generally speaking, it is very limited. You shouldn't study dentistry if you want to work in a different field.
 

cocodreams

Regular Member
-public health expert and government policy advisor (look up Matthew Hopcraft)
-researcher
-some pharmaceutical companies and dental material supplier (eg: align technology)
-admin in dental organisations (eg: ADA, Dental council)
-jobs that do not require professional training (eg: taxi drivers, CEO, athletes, bartenders ), but I don't think this what you're asking

But generally speaking, it is very limited. You shouldn't study dentistry if you want to work in a different field.
Yeah I was mainly asking about work in the dentistry field apart from the clinical aspect :) Thanks!
 

Appleton

Dental Student
Hi all, I'm posting this mostly out of curiosity. How is your dental school currently operating under Covid conditions? Are labs/clinics still running? Are you at all concerned about the teaching so far? I would love to hear from other students, particularly those in lockdown.
 
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