Career Profile: Doctor of Dental Surgery
Becoming a Doctor of Dental Surgery is no easy task—but it is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career. If you are interested in becoming a dentist, you probably enjoy helping people, challenging work, and being your own boss.
In Canada, this degree, Doctor of Dental Surgery, is awarded to graduates of an accredited school of dentistry, such as the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry (1). The first step to becoming a dentist is earning admission to a dental school. You need to wow the admissions committee with your cognitive and non-cognitive abilities, including an excellent score on the Dental Aptitude Test. The DAT is run by the Canadian Dental Association (2).
The specifics of dental school curriculum will vary depending on which school you attend, but at the University of Alberta, dental students do two years of general anatomy and physiology then another two years of study focusing on oral health and science (3). After graduation, the next step is obtaining a license to practice. This is granted by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (4).
Once licensed to practice, today’s dentist has a wide scope of skills and responsibilities. You may become involved in:
1. Health care (5)
Think back to your last visit to the dentist. You probably got a few tips on how to take better care of your teeth. Dentists are considered primary health care providers, which means they can guide you to better oral and overall health.
2. Education (5)
Dentists may also be involved in educating the general public. This can take the form of articles, television and radio interviews, or speaking engagements. Some health professionals are also active on social media.
3. Teaching and research (5)
Once a dentist has become well-established, they may be invited to guest-lecture or later, become a professor in a dental school. Affiliation with a dental school provides greater opportunity to conduct oral health research.
4. Specialize (5)
There are also opportunities to specialize. DDS graduates may become general practitioners or become specialists in the following areas: dental public health; endodontics; oral and maxillofacial surgery; oral medicine and pathology; oral and maxillofacial radiology; orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics; pediatric dentistry; periodontics; and prosthodontics.
Dentistry is not just root canals and braces. As you can see, the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree gives you plenty of opportunities beyond general practice. This is a wonderful career path and if you decide to pursue it, you will have a bright future!