Students at the University of Texas (UTHealth) School of Dentistry teamed up to extend free dental care to veterans in Houston this past Veteran’s Day. “It’s a small way for the School of Dentistry to give back to those who have already done so much for this country,” Director of Community Outreach Dr. Margo Melchor told KIII-TV. During the event, veterans received care critical to their oral health, dental hygiene, and, ultimately, their overall well-being.
What’s more, UTHealth gave uninsured veterans access to services they would be unable to afford otherwise. The free event benefited uninsured veterans, disabled veterans, and homeless veterans, addressed serious dental problems, like severe tooth decay and significant toothaches, and drove home one very important point: for many, dental care is a privilege.
Be a part of the solution. Helping those in need and contributing to dental health, oral hygiene, and overall well-being are just some of the reasons why you should become a dentist. Learn more about the perks of the profession below.
1. Help People With Oral Hygiene And Cleanliness
One of the most compelling reasons why you should become a dentist is to help other people. Dentists accomplish that by cleaning patients’ gums and teeth and addressing dental and oral hygiene problems that will only grow worse — and possibly lead to major health problems — if left untreated.
As a general rule, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that patients visit the dentist twice per year. During these visits, dentists will remove any plaque and tartar that may have accumulated on your teeth, typically using a process called a scale and polish. The dentist or dental hygienist then walks the patient through appropriate home care, showing patients how to properly brush and floss their teeth. Dentists conclude most visits with a fluoride treatment.
These biannual visits are not merely cosmetic. These cleanings and treatments prevent cavities, tooth decay, and infections, like gingivitis and periodontitis. Of course, patients have the option to supplement these appointments in times of need. Dentists also help with dental emergencies, like severe bleeding, inflammation, abscesses, chipped, broken, or missing teeth, and toothaches that cause unrelenting pain. Depending on the emergency in question, patients may require crowns, extensive tooth repair, or surgery, like root canals. In each of these instances, your care significantly improves patients’ lives.
That is not the only reason why you should become a dentist. Too few people realize that dental health and oral health helps paint a full picture of patients’ physical well-being in general. “Your mouth is a window into what’s going on in the rest of your body, often serving as a helpful vantage point for detecting the early signs and symptoms of systemic disease,” Colgate writes. A shocking 90% of systemic diseases present with dental or oral symptoms. A trip to the dentist can help reveal conditions like HIV and diabetes, making regular dental checkups important diagnostic tools.
Further, regular cleanings and good oral hygiene can help keep bacteria out of patients’ mouths and, ultimately, out of their system. Left unchecked, bacteria and plaque buildup can lead to endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, and even preterm birth in pregnant women. As such, helping patients practice good dental and oral hygiene benefits their overall health.
Become a dentist and make an incredible difference in your patients’ lives. Keep their teeth and gums healthy — and help them stave off serious infection and systemic conditions, too.
2. Help People Feel Confident In Themselves
Another reason why you should become a dentist is to help people become their most confident selves. Unfortunately, the appearance of our teeth can take quite a toll on an individual’s self-worth and self-confidence — and even their mental health. According to Patient, 27% of adults surveyed cover their mouths when they smile and nearly a quarter (22%) avoid having their picture taken altogether, thanks to their teeth. Experts believe that a lackluster smile can affect your career prospects and even your romantic relationships. For these reasons, working in cosmetic dentistry can make all the difference to your patients.
Working with a cosmetic dentist can be a truly transformative experience for your patients. If you specialize in this field of dentistry or even if you dabble in it, you will help patients achieve the dazzling white smiles they have always wanted.
As a cosmetic dentist, you may help with teeth whitening, crowns, caps, natural- and/or inconspicuous-looking fillings, bridges, implants, dentures, bite correction, and teeth straightening. In turn, your patients will experience a better quality of life, thanks to a significant self-esteem boost.
Help people. Make a difference. Even teeth whitening can go an incredibly long way to make your patients happier, healthier, and more fulfilled people.
3. Perform Important Surgeries
If you are wondering why you should become a dentist, know that dentistry involves a great deal more than removing plaque and teaching patients how to properly floss. In fact, dentists perform important surgeries that relieve debilitating pain, diagnose and treat certain types of cancers, reconstruct patients’ jaws and/or teeth, and help alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea. Learn more about life-changing oral surgeries below.
- Root canals. “During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp of the tooth are removed and the inside is cleaned and sealed,” WebMD writes. While it may sound painful to work directly with the nerve this way, it is necessary. Without root canals, patients can get infections and abscesses that will cause even greater problems.
- Biopsies and extractions. Dentists also perform biopsies if and when they suspect oral cancers. If the biopsy comes back positive, a dentist may remove cancerous tissue. Similarly, dentists may extract excess tissue from the very back of your throat to help treat sleep apnea.
- Reconstructive surgery. No matter how you injure your jaw or teeth, missing parts of your jaw or parts of your teeth can be traumatic. A dentist can correct any jaw-joint issues from car accidents, traumatic sports injuries, and more.
One of the most compelling reasons why you should become a dentist is to help people, and major oral surgeries have a profound impact on people’s lives. Lessen patients’ pain, diagnose and remove cancers, and help patients rebuild their jaw after a traumatic injury.
4. Specialize in a Specific Field
Another reason why you should become a dentist is to follow your passion. As with any other career, many dentists have a certain area of dentistry that calls to them in particular. Whether you want to help young children establish good dental and oral health habits, help patients correct overbites, underbites, and misaligned teeth, perform X-rays on patients, or perform potentially life-saving oral surgeries, there is a field of dentistry that best suits you.
For example, if you want to help young patients, consider becoming a family dentist. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.” Children with untreated cavities are more prone to problems speaking, eating, and playing. Some children with cavities even get lower marks at school and have poorer attendance.
These figures make it clear: parents are not nearly proactive enough about their children’s dental care and some parents do not have appropriate access to affordable care. Work as a family dentist to educate parents about comprehensive dental and oral health care for young children and to participate in community outreach events to make much-needed care more accessible.
5. Run Your Own Practice
Perhaps a lesser-known reason why you should become a dentist is to start your own practice and become your own boss. According to a poll by Gallup, 61% of workers endeavor to become their own boss one day. Dentistry provides the perfect opportunity to do it.
Opening up and managing your own dental office is much like starting any other company. To legally start your own practice, you will need insurance to protect you, your workers, and your patients. Create a budget, determine what payments you will accept, and work with a trusted payroll processing company to complete basic payroll and human resources (HR) duties.
Market your business, and use marketing and your day-to-day operations to establish a strong client base and lasting relationships with your patients.
It may initially seem like a lot of legwork, but, ultimately, many find the payoff well worth it. Working as your own boss affords you more flexible hours, more meaningful work, and all-important job security.
6. Employ Other Small And Local Companies As A Business Owner
If you choose to start your own practice, the reasons why you should become a dentist compound. As the boss of your own dental practice, you will have opportunities to give back to your local community, just like UTHealth students gave back to Houston’s veterans.
Of course, giving back takes many different forms. While it is more than possible to give back by offering free or affordable dental care to those in need, dentists may also consider giving back by working with small businesses and/or local businesses.
Local businesses directly contribute to the local community and local economy. “Small businesses employ 77 million Americans and accounted for 65% of all new jobs over the past 17 years,” according to Mass.gov. Plus, now more than ever, it is important to do what you can to help small businesses stay afloat. Due to the coronavirus, many businesses are struggling to make ends meet, filing for bankruptcy, or even permanently closing their doors.
Do your part by employing small businesses or local businesses to support your business needs. For instance, hire a commercial sanitizing company to clean the premises after hours and to help instill patients’ confidence in your commitment to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dentists may consider working with a local payroll company or local hiring or recruitment company as well.
Use your position as the boss of your dental practice to make even more of a difference. Team up with small businesses to support them and make your day-to-day operations easier.
7. Provide Beneficial Advice To Your Patients And Community
Perhaps one of the most important reasons why you should become a dentist is to educate the public. Dentists are a tremendous help simply thanks to the invaluable advice they impart to their patients.
If you are a dentist, passing along the following recommendations can significantly improve your patients’ health and well-being.
- Patients need to brush at least twice per day. Brushing your teeth regularly protects your enamel, which prevents cavities and tooth decay. It also removes tartar and bacteria, staving off infection and inflammation.
- Flossing matters. “Flossing does 40% of the work in removing sticky bacteria, or plaque, from your teeth,” Dental Associates reveals. Brushing alone does not fully clean our teeth and gums. Flossing literally gets in those gaps and cleans hard-to-reach places brushing misses.
- Straight teeth aren’t just about aesthetics. While many people may think that orthodontics, braces, and/or clear aligners are about looks only, that simply is not true. Unfortunately, misaligned teeth can also be markedly more difficult to clean, leading to a buildup of plaque and excess bacteria. This excess can result in infection and even serious health conditions if left untreated for extended periods of time. Plus, patients should not be shy about orthodontic treatment. An overwhelming 4 million Americans have braces, including children, teens, and adults.
If you need a refresher about why you should become a dentist, realize that even giving simple advice to your patients makes an enormous difference. Advise patients about basic dental care and improve their health and quality of life.
There are 200,419 dentists practicing in the U.S., according to the ADA. Why should you join them? Dentistry can be an extremely rewarding field. Dentists and dental care are in high demand, dentists make an impressive annual salary of $175,840 and are more than capable of earning more, and any sort of dentistry has the potential to significantly improve patients’ lives. Pursue dentistry to help people, support local businesses, keep small businesses afloat, and live the dream of becoming your own boss.