Some things about being a dentist that you might not have considered!
A lighthearted look at the working life of a dentist.
Have you ever thought about becoming a dentist? You might possibly view us as being people that you would like to avoid as much as possible (in our professional role of course), but have you ever wondered what the life of a dentist is really like and why we do it, and the the things that we notice that you think we don’t?
In today’s blog, we are going to try to give a view of what inspires us to become dentists, how we achieve that and some other little things that we learn along the way.
Why become a dentist?
The reasons why people choose a route into the dental profession are many. This applies with our Blue Sky Dental team in Chelmsford as it almost certainly does at other practices across the country.
Some people may just think ‘money’. It is true that dentistry can offer financial rewards, although there are many sacrifices that have to be made for this as we will see later on. Some people also continue in a profession that their parents started, sometimes taking over the family business. Others may have experienced significant dental problems themselves when they were younger are are determined to help others have healthier mouths. Although individual reasons do occur, very often it is a combination of factors that lead people to choosing a career in dental care.
Getting into dentistry
Before you can advance to dedicated dental studies, you will need to have some relevant A level qualifications. These are usually in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and maths. This is only the start. Whilst 4 year courses are available for those with previous qualifications, most people have to attain a bachelor degree following a period of 5 years of intensive studies. This is actually a very popular degree and competition for a place is very high. Once you are qualified, you will then be able to practice general dental care.
Studying doesn’t always stop there though. For some, further studies will need to be undertaken if you wish to, for example, place dental implants. This can take another three years of study due to the complexity of the procedure. There is also ongoing training needed throughout our working lives as new technologies come along and new medical evidence is found.
Working as a dentist
Whilst the rewards of working as a dentist are significant, it isn’t always easy. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news and, where patients haven’t looked after their oral health well, we do sometimes have to tell people that they need significant treatments. We may also have to refer a patient to their GP if we are concerned about certain symptoms that we might come across during a routine examination.
Because we know that having implements ‘prodding’ around in your mouth isn’t especially pleasant, it is very important that we remain calm and polite and helpful with all of our patients. We feel that our Chelmsford team are very successful at this and have had much positive feedback from our patients. Ultimately though, dentists are just the same as you. They have their own personal life which can be challenging. Financial, relationship and health issues, amongst other things, can happen to us just as much as it can to you. Despite this we have to remain calm for the sake of our customers, as is the case in most professions.
Although an improvement in ergonomics has helped us, it is also not unusual for dentists to develop back problems over the years due to the unusual positions that we sometimes have to work with to ensure a successful outcome to a procedure.
Things we know (that you probably think we don’t!)
On a more light-hearted note, we thought that we would share some of the things that we see and hear on an almost daily basis which patients might not be fully aware of.
Rest assured that you are not the only nervous patient in the world. We do understand that undergoing a dental procedure is not the most fun thing in the world and is something that we would want to avoid as well. We often hear from patients that they are really nervous, but we can assure you that you are far from alone. Every day, we see a fair few patients that outwardly exhibit signs of anxiety. It is nothing to be ashamed of and we recommend that if you are particularly anxious about dental treatment, that you talk to us in advance so that we can find the most comfortable way forward for you. We have lots of techniques to help.
We know that you cleaned your teeth just before your visit! We don’t mind this one as fresh smelling breath is always better than smelly breath. Don’t be fooled into believing that we don’t know that you have just brushed your teeth though. This will make zero difference to the outcome of an examination as problems like tooth decay and gum disease are the result of inadequate longer term care and one brush before your dental visit will make no difference.
We are good at detecting ‘white lies’. Most patients want to get in and out of their six monthly appointments as soon as possible and some simply tell us what they think we want to hear. A common one is ‘have you stopped smoking’. When the patient tells us that they have because they don’t want a ‘lecture’ on how bad smoking is, we can tell by looking at the build up of staining on your teeth that, if you have, it has been very recently. Please remember that we are here to help you protect your mouth and not to make moral judgements. We much prefer to hear the truth, even if you think that we don’t. This way, we can tailor our advice and treatment to make sure it is most beneficial for you. So please try to be as honest as possible with us when we ask any questions.
Hopefully you will find this view from the other side of the chair interesting. If you are a younger patient especially and think that you might be interested in a career in dentistry, we are happy to offer some initial advice to point you in the right direction.
If you would like to make an appointment to see one of our hard working, friendly dentists, please call Blue Sky Dental at our Chelmsford clinic on 01245 211070.