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The Many Dental Career Paths You Can Take

WHAT DOES A CAREER in dentistry look like? Being a dentist is an incredibly rewarding career, and beyond helping our patients maintain lifelong healthy smiles, we hope our team at South San Francisco Dental Care inspires at least a few budding dentists out there! We want to make sure you know all the different directions you can go within the field of dentistry because there are more options than you might think.

Becoming a Dentist

To become a dentist, you should find out the prerequisites for which courses to take in your undergraduate program to qualify for the dental school you want to attend. Most require several science courses and labs, and a four-year degree is recommended. A year before dental school, you must pass the Dental Admissions Test and apply. Dental school takes four years to complete.

Our Dentists

At our office, your dentists manage your overall oral health, and perform general and cosmetic dentistry procedures including check-ups, fillings, crowns. They are responsible for coordinating with our in-house specialists.

Here’s one example of what dental school is like:

What’s The Difference Between DDS and DMD?

Some dentists come out of dental school with a DDS attached to their name while others have a DMD. DDS means Doctor of Dental Surgery and DMD means Doctor of Dental Medicine, and which one you get depends on which school you go to, but the qualifications are the same. Dentists who want to specialize in a particular area of dentistry will go on to get additional training and certification in their specialty area.

Private Practice Dentists Aren’t the Whole Story

The dental career everyone is most familiar with is the private practice dentist, meaning an individual dentist or a partnership working with local patients in their own practice. That’s the kind of dentist we all go to for our normal dental health needs, but not everyone who graduates from a four-year dental program goes in this direction.

Other Types of Dentists

Academic dentists add a teaching role and help usher in the next generation of dentists. Research dentists get to be on the cutting edge of new advancements in treatments and technology. Some dentists go international and work with organizations like the WHO, UNESCO, and FAO. Finally, there are dentists who work alongside physicians in hospitals.

Dental Specialties

About 20% of dentists undergo additional years of training in one of the nine dental specialties: Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics, and Prosthodontics.

At South San Francisco Dental Care, we have a team of in-house specialists for nearly all your dental needs. You don't have to go anywhere else for root canals, pediatric dentistry, oral surgery, dental implants, braces and sedation dentistry. We are your one-stop shop in dentistry for you and your entire family.

Our in-house specialists:

The Team Is More Than the Dentist

Aside from the dentists themselves, other essential roles in the field of dentistry are dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental lab technicians. Hygienists and assistants interact closely with patients to ensure a high level of care, while dental lab technicians work behind the scenes designing the dentures, crowns, and braces used by dentists. Most of these support roles require at least an associate’s degree or training program. And, of course, we wouldn’t get far without our administrative staff!

Our hygienists:

Our entire team is dedicated to keeping your smile beautiful and healthy for life. We're here for you when you need us. If it's been more than 6 months since your last check-up and cleaning, schedule your next visit today! You can schedule online or give us a call or text at (650) 871-1400. We hope to see you soon!