Is the dentistry field the right career path for me?

Discussion in 'Dental Students' started by Dodo97, Jun 24, 2018.

  1. Dodo97

    Dodo97

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    Hi, as the title states I have a hard time deciding if dentistry is something I should pursue. The thing is that I love alle the sciences (mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology), but particularly physics and chemistry. Furthermore, I see some applications of these sciences (chemistry, biology, physics) in the field. Someone once said to me that it's like micro engineering. So I think I have the passion for the subjects even though I would like to admit that I want more of the physics/math aspect into the field.

    My problem is that I don't know if i'm the right person for this job. I don't know if my manual dexterity is good enough for pursuing this field. I'm familiar with the fact that practice makes perfect and you'll get a lot of practice during the years, but i 'm afraid I won't handle the dexterity. I don't consider myself a clumsy person, but at the same time I don't know if my dental hand skills are good enough. Is macro hand skills applicable as a dentist who works the majority of the time in the micro? I don't even play any instruments so i'm kind of scared. Do you have any recommendation of things that I can implement in my every day life/in summer know that will remotely improve my dental hand skills/eye-to-hand coordination?

    Also, I know that communication is something vital, but is this something that can be developed? I will characterize myself as a introvert, but I know that I can be a extrovert if the situation requires to me to be it. Are my social skills gonna be a problem?



    I'm so confused if I should pursue this field. I can envision myself as a dentist one day, but at the same time I don't know if this is the right career path for me. Btw; I live in Europe so things are a bit different than in the North-America.
     
    Dodo97, Jun 24, 2018
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  2. Dodo97

    Busybee

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    I'm not a dentist but I have or have had friends and associates who became dentists or hygienists and you do have to be physically fit to do the job. One friend who is a specialist now was totally paranoid about hand injury when she was training to the point that she didn't want to take part in team sports in case she had an accident. Eyesight is really important of course. You must have steady hands and a good grip. It takes a lot out of you physically and can lead to chronic problems. A colleague's mum had to retire early from neck and shoulder pain. All that stooping over isn't good.

    On top of that you have to be kind but able to assert yourself. You don't have to be an extrovert. The best dentists I've come across have been friendly and unassuming. The extroverts aren't always the best communicators. They don't listen to the patient. Listening and comprehending are the most important communication skills a dentist can have.

    You need an engineer's brain. I think a unique set of skills and attributes are necessary to make a really good dentist. If you don't feel confident that you want to go into this field then don't. I know someone who is halfheartedly studying and I really hope they choose a different career path because some of the stories I've heard about students carrying out practical work on real people send a shiver down my spine. Such as making a mess and then losing sleep over potential consequences.
     
    Busybee, Jun 25, 2018
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  3. Dodo97

    honestdoc Verified Dentist

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    My suggestion is to shadow a dentist near you. In the US, you will face debilitating debt of over $300,000 in 4 years of dental school. The system of medicine & dentistry is broken here in the US. There are too many lawyers ready to sue dentists and doctors. Students' dream of making big money is out the window.

    Dentistry under the right environment can be rewarding. Very frequently you can transform people's lives and they all look at you with respect. As you gain experience, you gain confidence in communicating with people and patients. I graduated 20 years ago when my tuition was about $10,000 a year. The US military paid my school loans and I learned so much during my service. I was super shy before dental school and I developed communication skills to be able to present cases to large audiences as well as one on one settings.

    I'm not sure how the European dental system is like. Hopefully your local dentist can guide you more.
     
    honestdoc, Jun 25, 2018
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  4. Dodo97

    Dodo97

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    Hi, i'm fully aware that a career in dentistry is quite demanding as it takes determination and a genuinely passion for oral health to go far in this field. You mention a lot of qualities that are a inherent part of a dentist - physically fit, good eyesight and manual dexterity etc. My question is how do I know if i'm physically fit to do the job? Does having a good eyesight mean that you can't wear contact lenses? I don't if my manual dexterity is good enough. I will say that I have a genuinely interest in oral health and I love all the sciences that are a part of it.

    It is just that certain traits that I have, don't really match with my picture of how a dentist should be like; excellent communication skills, being a introvert and kind of shy etc. I know however I can improve these things under some time.
     
    Dodo97, Jun 26, 2018
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  5. Dodo97

    Busybee

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    You could try going to a dental school and ask whether they will let you shadow a student to see whether this is the career for you. I think I mentioned that being a good listener is the most important attribute.
     
    Busybee, Jun 26, 2018
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  6. Dodo97

    Dodo97

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    It is encouraging hearing that you also was once a shy person but developed the communications skills that are necessary to become a good dentist.
    As I mentioned on my last reply; my biggest concern is that I don't know if my manual dexterity is good enough. I'm aware that i'll get lots of practice, but i'm afraid that isn't going to be enough. The problem with the european dental system, or where I come from is that the first two years of the five year master are solely dedicated to the sciences, pathology, anatomy, oral health etc. So once I'm enrolled in the program I will not have began practice before the third year.

    I however have a few questions since you are a dentist;
    1. How can one know if the manual dexterity, eye-to-hand coordination is on point?
    2. Are dentist require to use their non dominant hand for drilling and do jobs that they can do with their dominant hand? In other words, do I need to train my left hand, or is just things like holding instrument like mirrors?
    3. Can dentist wear contact lenses? If so, can that be a problem?
    4. What should I do if i want to improve my dental handskills? I want to do something that I can implement in my everyday life. I'm determined to do whatever it takes to improve my manual dexterity.
     
    Dodo97, Jun 26, 2018
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  7. Dodo97

    Dodo97

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    I forgot to mention earlier that I shadowed a dentist a month ago. He was quite busy with the patient, so I might got the wrong impression of the field because of lack of information. But I'll try to shadow some more!

    Being a good listener seems fairly obvious based on the fact that we are talking about a career in health. But I thought that dental hand skills is undisputedly the most vital part?
     
    Dodo97, Jun 26, 2018
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  8. Dodo97

    Busybee

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    It's all vital. A good dentist is an extraordinary human being. But you need special listening skills in dentistry. The patient lives with the consequences of your actions, so it's not just verbal but picking up non verbal clues.

    Did I mention that you also need business skills? Most dentists also run a business - their practice.
     
    Busybee, Jun 27, 2018
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  9. Dodo97

    honestdoc Verified Dentist

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    Everybody has different experiences on their way to becoming a dentist. There are no generic "traits" other than compassion, determination to finish school, obsessive and compulsive to details, and able to grind through deliberate practice (painful, structured and specialized).

    If I were to repeat my experience, I would start before entering dental school by working at a dental lab making crowns, implants, dentures, orthodontic and occlusal appliances, etc. This kind of work takes up a lot of your student time and if you can get good and fast, you are a winner. First year would include medical school classes like gross anatomy, micro anatomy (Histology), biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, embryology and dental classes like dental materials, tooth development and anatomy (waxing teeth shapes), hands on impressions and pour up, restorative dentistry, occlusion, and treating patients for hygiene. We practice prepping (drilling) teeth on typodont models...try prepping teeth looking only through a mouth mirror in an awkward position. The class before mine lost more than 20% of the total students due to stress and demanding schedules after the first year.

    Second year we see patients for fillings and cleanings, medical and dental classes as well as hands on with typodont models. I usually leave my house around 7:00 am and come home after 10 pm. I'm not very fast at making crowns, dentures, and other dental appliances. One time I spent 8 straight hours waxing up denture teeth only thinking 2 hours have passed including not using the toilet! We usually have 2-4 tests every day and I forget to prepare for many and had to "wing" it...it is hard to study for so many classes after 10 pm! After completion of year 2, we take Part 1 of the National Dental Board licensing exam covering all the sciences. I couldn't remember if it was 400 or 600 questions covering 2 days...I mentally blocked that out.

    We see more patients during third year including crowns, dentures, simple surgery, root canals, more fillings, scaling and root planing periodontal patients as well as assisting in perio surgery. We also take pathology (cancer) and pharmacology classes. Midway 3rd year we take Part 2 national boards covering about 600 questions pertaining to cancer, pharmacology, microbiology, dental materials, proper treatment planning, restorations, etc. 4th year we needed to complete all of our requirements to graduate. We need to cement 4 bridges (I prepped 5 because a patient moved away after I prepped and temporized her), about 30 crowns, 250-300 fillings depending on the surfaces, 28 root canals, 4 months of oral surgery rotations, 8 pediatric cases...very hard to schedule around parents' work and sick kids, 4 dentures, 4 partial dentures, and 4 perio surgery cases. If patients don't show up or don't pay, you don't graduate. Towards the end of year, we needed to take Regional boards (determined by where the student want to practice in the US) that includes written and working on patients for a filling, a crown, and deep cleaning on periodontal patients. If the patient does not qualify or don't show up, you fail. The national and regional licensing exams are not free...I forgot the exact amount but plan on about $1000 each (pricing for 20 years ago). Each state has their own licensing requirements but you need to pass Part 1 & 2 National Boards, Regional boards, and individual state jurisprudence exams.
     
    honestdoc, Jun 27, 2018
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  10. Dodo97

    Dodo97

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    Hi, I appreciate the reply! Dental schools seems a lot different in the states compared to in Europe. As i mentioned the first and second year are solely dedicated to theory - biochemistry, chemistry, anatomy, pathology, oral biology/health etc. We don't see patient until the third year. If it were otherwise we would be able to acquire knowledge in the clinic since day one. I think I have the compassion for the field. I love the sciences (primarily physics and chemistry) although I can't exclude mathematics and biology. I also would say that i'm detail-oriented in what activity I take part in. The dental program seems hard - trying to combine the theory with the clinic. I don't think I will be so worried with the theory/science aspect of the field - although I can be totally wrong. I'm however more concerned with the practical part of the course.

    btw, I would appreciate if you are able to take the time to reply to the following questions that keeps bothering me.

    I however have a few questions since you are a dentist;
    1. How can one know if the manual dexterity, eye-to-hand coordination is on point?
    2. Are dentist require to use their non dominant hand for drilling and do jobs that they can do with their dominant hand? In other words, do I need to train my left hand, or is just things like holding instrument like mirrors?
    3. Can dentist wear contact lenses? If so, can that be a problem?
    4. What should I do if i want to improve my dental handskills? I want to do something that I can implement in my everyday life. I'm determined to do whatever it takes to improve my manual dexterity.
     
    Dodo97, Jun 27, 2018
    #10
  11. Dodo97

    honestdoc Verified Dentist

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    1. Unfortunately you can not know until you go to Dental school and start work. As stated above, it would be advantageous to work at a dental lab and improve your hand skills.
    2. You don't need to use your non dominant hand for drilling although I sometimes hold endodontic hand files on my left hand for some instrumentation on difficult posterior molars.
    3. Most to all dentist use magnification such as loupes and or dental microscope. I don't wear contacts but I don't see why you can't.
    4. Work at a dental lab and learn to make crowns, dentures, etc. You may hold favored status for application and as stated above, you will be ahead of most of your classmates. I can't think of everyday activities to improve manual dexterity. I've read some benefits of playing video games although I have small kids at home and have no chance of doing so.
     
    honestdoc, Jun 27, 2018
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  12. Dodo97

    Dodo97

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    Ok, I see.

    I am also wondering if this will be a problem; do you as a dentist use your pinky finger on your non-dominant hand regularly? I got into an accident which resulted in a broken bone in my pinky finger and it unfortunately didn't heal properly. So I'm left with an not optimal functionally finger. The accident has left with me misaligned bones, stiffness and a small deformity. I would like to emphasize that I don't feel any sort of pain when I use it or bend it. I will be very careful in the future and partake in activities that minimizes such damage.
     
    Dodo97, Jun 29, 2018
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  13. Dodo97

    Dodo97

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    ?
     
    Dodo97, Jun 30, 2018
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  14. Dodo97

    honestdoc Verified Dentist

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    No, I don't use my pinky fingers other than stabilizing instruments. Don't worry about manual dexterity. If you can hold a pen and write normal, you should be able to accomplish a lot of dental procedures. You will go through more than plenty of practice while in dental school. The key with dental school is to master time management. You will be overwhelmed with school, lab, and patient work.
     
    honestdoc, Jul 2, 2018
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