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Dentist - Doctors With a Different Education

Although a dentist is a medical professional, education and specialty is very different than that of an internist or other type of medical doctor. This is because the oral cavity is vastly different than the internal organs, and two yearly visits with the dentist is much more effective in staying healthy.

Just like internal medicine, dentistry is a medical discipline that is important for good overall health. Dentists are educated and trained in dental school, where the curriculum is similar to that of medical school except students learn all about the oral cavity. However, a lot of the education of a dentist involves preventative care, since it takes a recommended two yearly visits to remain healthy. There are also dental specialties that focus on certain methods of care, such as orthodontics, or a specific patient, as in pediatric dentistry.

There are nine dental specialties that are recognized by the dentistry regulatory board of the United States. However, a dentist's education must begin with dental school. Over the course of four years, the student will learn general dentistry techniques through both theoretical and practical study. In fact, a dental school education is divided into two parts, both of which are concluded with an exam in which the student must pass in order to demonstrate their mastery of these techniques. The first part of dental school is a theoretical approach in which the student learns through classroom lectures and medical literature. At the end of the first two years, the student will then take the first part of the dentistry licensing exam, which covers subjects such as dental anatomy, gross anatomy, pathology, and biochemistry to name a few. Upon completion of the first part of dental school, the student will then begin the practical part of their education, in which they will work closely with a dental professional. At the end of these two years, the student takes the second part of the licensing exam, in which they must show mastery an understanding of topics such as prosthodontics, pain control, orthodontics, periodontics, and oral surgery. After passing the exam, the student is awarded a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree and licensing that allows them to practice dentistry independently. However, many dentists choose to further their education to learn one of the dental specialties. This requires an additional two to three years of graduate school, in addition to an internship that allows the student to receive practical training in their specialty of choice.

The supporting staff in the dentist's office must also complete an education and training program before working with patients. For instance, a dental hygienist is responsible for cleaning the patient's oral cavity. These professionals must complete a dental hygiene program, consisting of a bachelor's degree, associate's degree, or certificate. Like the dentist, a dental hygienist must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.

Article Tags: Dental School, Dental Specialties, First Part

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