A dentist is a physician specializing in dentistry. A dentist is an expert in the diagnosis, prevention and the treatment of conditions and diseases related to the oral cavity. A dentist or dental surgeon not only treats teeth and gum diseases, but also provides instruction on taking care of gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.
Becoming a dentist in the United Kingdom (UK)
In order to become a certified dentist in the United Kingdom (UK), one needs to complete 5 years of study in a dental school and obtain a degree in dentistry (either BDS or BChd). Then one needs to undergo a couple of years of supervised practice. Aspiring dentists need high grades at A level. There are some dental schools offering a year pre dental course to those who don't obtain the required A-levels.
The General Dental Council (GDC) regulates dental schools in the UK. Competition is quite fierce and in some cases, one needs to sit for the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT). After successful completion of undergraduate degree, one needs to register with GDC to practise as a dentist.
Role of a dental surgeon
A dental surgeon or an oral surgeon is responsible for:
- Diagnosis of oral diseases, toothache, etc
- Promoting oral health
- Carrying out surgical procedures on the teeth and soft tissues of the oral cavity
- Repairing cracked teeth and wisdom teeth removal (or any damaged teeth)
- Safe administration of anaesthetics for dental procedures
- Teeth whitening
- Writing prescriptions for antibiotics and other medications
- Examining teeth gums and other areas of problem
Apart from the above-motioned roles, a dentist also carries out dental implants, porcelain veneers, root canal therapy along with oral surgery procedures like dental implant placement. They also prescribe medications like antibiotics, painkillers, sedatives, etc for the treatment of various conditions.
Dentists also examine x rays of teeth and gums and identify areas of problems. They teach patients about various aspects of dental care. Using various equipment such as drills, probes, forceps, brushes, digital scanners and others, they provide care to patients.
It is interesting to note that the areas of a dental surgeon not lie in the gums and teeth of patients but also in their head, neck and others. While examining a patient, a dentist not only checks teeth and gums, but also swellings, lumps, ulcerations, etc. They can spot early signs in the mouth that may point out to diseases elsewhere in the body.
Some of the specialities in the area are:
- Dental Public Health
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery
- Pediatric dentistry
- General dentistry
- Cosmetic dentistry
Oral health is extremely important. Many scientific studies have shown associations between oral health and general health conditions. Hence, it is important to visit a dentist if you feel trouble in your teeth or gums.