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Career in Dentistry

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Dentists diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums, and related oral structures. They clean, fill, extract and replace teeth using various instruments, dental appliances, medications and surgical implements.

A dentist in a hospital looks after sick patients whose teeth need urgent attention, and performs jaw operations and complicated extracations. Outpatients may require only ordinary dental treatment. Preventive and cosmetic dentistry are gaining in importance.

Dental hygienists work to the written prescription of a dentist and dental mechanics work to make orthodontic braces and other appliances as prescribed by a dentist.


Nature of Work

Dentists are involved in filling, crowning and extracting first teeth, scaling and cleaning teeth and gums. They design and fit dentures and plates and take corrective measure for teeth growing abnormally. The work requires a lot of
Dexterity and mechanical skill.

Dentists are usually found working regular hours whether it is in a government hospital or private consulting. Emergency duty is usually not required of dentists.

Dental hygienists clean, polish and scale teeth while dental mechanics design and fabricate a wide variety of different materials and equipment to make crowns, dentures, bridges, orthodontic braces.

Work Environment

Dentists in the metros will be found working in air-conditioned comfort. The equipment used today is very sophisticated. Specialised preventive and corrective work has to be carried out in a sterile atmosphere. Usually dentists use masks and gloves while examining patients. The dentist’s chair, so much an object of fear among most people, is expensive equipment providing for the comfort of the patient and dentist’s ease.


Higher earnings are normally associated with specializations through a Master’s degree. Master’s degree courses offer specialization in various branches such as: Oral Medicine and Radiology; Prosthodontics; orthodontics; Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics; Oral Surgery; Periodontia; Pedodontia. Orthodontics deals with the straightening of teeth for aesthetic and clinical reasons and Periodontics with the care of the supporting tissue (bone and gums). Endodontics is involved in prevention and treatment of diseases of the dental pulp bu root canal therapy or pulp canal therapy.

Physical/Psychological Requirements

Good health, a strong back which provides the ability to stand for long hours; manual dexterity; a methodical and scientific approach are important requirements for a dentist. Also needed are the ability to establish easy relationships quickly with people of all ages; ability to infuse confidence in nervous patients, especially children; organizing ability; and ability to work as a team (with assistants, technicians and other members in a hospital, especially).


Dental Mechanics and Dental Hygienist courses are open for candidates after 10+2 with Science.

BDS is a 4-year (excluding internship) or a 5-year programme including internship taken up after Plus Two or equivalent examination with Physics,Chemistry and Biology with 50% marks(percentage required may vary between states/colleges and category of student). Admission is through a state/all India level admission test. Knowledge tested is of PCB of Class 12 or equivalent. Admission to BDS: After Plus Two/equivalent in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and English. Age should be between 17-22/24 years (general candidates) as on 31st December of year of admission.

Most BDS admissions are governed by domiciliary restrictions unless they are against the all India quota through a national level entrance test. Admission tests are mostly objective type and are notified in December-January and conducted between April-June. Candidates admitted to MBBS/BDS courses are often required to execute a bond to serve the state government for a period of 5 years.

The syllabus of BDS usually covers anatomy, physiology, uses of dental materials, design and fitting of dental appliances, other clinical studies such as pathology, medicine, general as well as dental surgery, anaesthesia, orthodontics, general and children’s preventive surgery and radiology. Initial practical work is taught using dummy ‘phantom heads’; later on, actual patients are called.

Postgraduation or MDS (2 or 21/2 years duration) is preferably pursued after one or two years work experience after BDS.

Employment Prospects
A dentist in general practice has the best financial prospects and the greatest independence, but is also likely to work the hardest. A general practice may involve partnership withcolleagues or it may be on one’s own.

The general approach in this area is to work as an assistant to an established dentist, with a view to becoming a partner later on, or to learn the ropes of running a practice while gaining experience.

Dentists find employment with state government and Central Government hospitals, medical colleges (teaching) and dispensaries. The railways, defence sector, banks and public/private sector units also employ dentists in the hospitals/medical centres set up for employees.

Career Progression

Dental mechanics and dental hygienists find satisfaction and success by becoming a reliable team member of successful dentists. There is a lot of scope for growth in private practice for dentists in general as well as specialised treatment. Salaries of dentists in government and public sector hospitals are governed by scales available to state/Central Government employees. Senior level positions are gained through years of service. Highest remunerations is dentistry are from private consulting practice. However, setting up one’s consulting room with the latest equipment and facilities or hiring all of these requires huge investment. To get into the bigger league you should have invested time and effort in acquiring expertise and a good reputation.

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