Dentistry is a vital aspect of well-rounded health care. Along with an annual check up with a general practitioner, it is important to visit a dentist twice a year to both maintain good overall health, and prevent disease of the oral cavity. Patients can expect a thorough tooth cleaning and overall examination of the oral cavity during these twice yearly checkups. Just like medical doctors, there are different specialties of dentistry, and general practice dentists will carry out these maintenance and preventative care duties. Additionally, dentists will keep their patients informed on how to maintain good oral health in between visits with the dentist. There are also specialty fields within dentistry. These doctors have additional education and training to handle more complicated oral health issues including cavities, pathological disease, and tooth realignment. However, general dentistry is basic, and all dental professionals regardless of specialty are trained to carry out basic oral health techniques.
A minimum of three years of college education is one of the requirements for admittance into dentistry school. Most students will complete a pre-dentistry scheme of college courses, which includes biology and chemistry classes to prepare the students for an advanced education in dentistry. Additionally, pre-dentistry students seeking admittance into dentistry school must also take a standardized exam that will test their general knowledge of related concepts. A student’s overall score on this exam will determine their readiness for dentistry school; schools have strict admittance standards based on these test scores. Once admitted, a dental school education consists of four years of coursework, which includes both the practice and theory of general dentistry. Years one and two of consist of in-class instruction, which covers general dental anatomy and general pathology. These first two years are the basis of a series of clinical exams, which is divided two parts. Before moving on to the final two years of dentistry school, students must pass the first part of the exam, which will cover the material they have learned in classroom instruction. This theoretical knowledge is put to work during the final two years of dental school. These final two years consist of working with a practicing dentist to learn receive hands-on training for common procedures that a general practitioner will carry out. Students are also preparing for the second part of their clinical exam; this portion of the exam must be passed before students can graduate. After graduation, students can take a licensing exam if they would like to begin practicing, or they can seek a post-graduate degree to practice a specialty.
While healthy patients only need an annual visit with their general practitioner to ensure good health, two yearly visits with a dentists can reinforce a healthy lifestyle. For some patients, a medical doctor and a dental practitioner can work together to help diagnose certain health issues, especially if the patient’s oral pathology has an effect on their overall health.