What you should know before you decide to become a dentist

Dentist
Dentistry can be a very rewarding career, but there are some drawbacks. Photo: Luckyraccoon, Bigstock.

Working as a dentist is a challenging yet rewarding career with many positives and negatives that come with it. Just like with any other profession, you need to take into consideration the varying factors that will tell you if a career as a dentist is right for you.

Often times the positives of being a dentist leads people to underestimate the negatives and be left with a misunderstanding of what this field of work is really like. There is no doubt that it is challenging to be a dentist and working as one will bring a range of advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of being a dentist do that you can get a more accurate picture of what this career is like and if it’s right for you.

Pros of being a dentist

Well-respected profession

Dentists are amongst the most highly regarded types of medical specialists and are community figures that are trusted by the locals they work with. The community trusts the dentist as a healthcare professional that does the best they can for their patients.

Helping people

As a dentist your primary role is to help people with issues relating to their oral health and it can be incredibly rewarding to see the impact your work can make on their lives. As a dentist, you can make major improvements in your patient’s lives in the health of their teeth, quality of their smile, their self-esteem and ability to speak or eat.

There is a level of gratification that can be felt in helping a patient deal with a bad toothache or to watch the instant change in self confidence after performing cosmetic dental procedures – ask anyone at a Hawkesbury dental clinic.

Job security

Dentists, like doctors, are always in high demand and as such they have one of the lowest unemployment rates of any profession. The demand for cosmetic dentistry is growing as well, creating more space for the profession to expand.

Income

On average dentists earn a median salary of almost $100,000, making it a financially lucrative career.

Lifestyle

A career as a dentist gives you a nice balance between work and play. If you run your own practise you can decide how little or often you work so you can focus your time on other things.

Be your own boss

Many dentists are self-employed and run their own practise, where they make the rules and decide how much work they do themselves. The hardest working dentists obviously make the most money each week as they take on more patients.

Cons

Education

To become a dentist you need to spend around 7-8 years studying at university after your graduate from high school. Some dentistry schools will require you to have studied an undergraduate degree before starting with them and others will have ways to go straight from high school into a 5 year undergraduate degree.

Like other health and science based fields, dentistry is a hard subject that requires a great deal of study and dedication to pass. There are also postgraduate study options for those who wish to enhance their clinical skills.

Time

Apart from the 7 or so years you’ll spend studying, your work as a dentist can be exhausting as you take on patient after patient. While running your own practise can make your schedule a little more flexible, you will still need to put in the same amount of time each week in order to run a profitable clinic.

Debt

Dental schooling is one of the most expensive kinds and dentists are notorious for the amount of debt they have. Only be sure about becoming a dentist if you love the work and are prepared to pay off your student debt.

Demanding work

The actual work that a dentist performs is highly technical and deliberate requiring expert hand-eye coordination and a steady hand. It will involve standing over patients for long periods at a time using delicate instruments to perform highly targeted procedures.

The standing, bending and hunching over patients adds up after a while and lots of dentists report having sore backs and joints.

Not only is the job physically demanding, but emotionally as well. As a medical professional, patients expect you to have a certain bedside manner and to translate complicated medical information to them in a way they can understand.

Trying to make people feel comfortable before a procedure or explaining something complicated can be exhausting for dentists who have to do it all day long. Dentists also often need to deal with children, who can be unpredictable and outright frustrating to manage.

Costs of running a dental clinic

As with any business, there is a large list of expenses that comes with operating it. Dental equipment and supplies are quite expensive and despite the high costs of some dental procedures, only a small portion of those fees goes into the dentists’ pocket.