Dental science, also called dental medicine and dental physiology, is a broad branch of medical science that focuses on the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and even the prevention of dental diseases, disorders, and abnormalities of the human oral cavity. This includes all parts of the human mouth, from the gum to the jawbone and back up to the cervix and beyond. It covers everything from the visible teeth (teeth) to those that are invisible (cervical bones). It is, perhaps, the most comprehensive area of study in all of medical science.
If you have recently had a tooth pulled or a filling or root canal or even a tooth whitening procedure done, you may need to visit your dentist for a professional dental exam and assessment. There are a variety of reasons why this might be necessary. Your dentist can tell you what tests he or she needs to run on you to determine the problem. For example, if you have missing teeth, the nerves may need to be tested to see if they are causing the issue. You may also be referred to an endodontist or orthodontist if you have misalignment issues.
There are a number of accredited dental schools and programs available to train aspiring dentists. An Associate’s degree is usually required before a person can apply for a full bachelors or even a master’s degree, though some medical schools do allow their students to begin with a bachelors as well. These dental programs prepare the student for a career in oral health care. They will generally provide hands-on clinical training in dentistry to their students along with lectures on anatomy, physiology, medical ethics, and other aspects of general health care. Some of these programs will also offer clinical training in advanced dentistry, which can prepare students for specific cases.
If you have a preferred elective from a college that is accredited and have an undergraduate degree already, you will still be able to pursue dental school at a university. The only difference will be in the amount of time and financial assistance, you will need to finish your undergraduate degree. Most students who get dental degrees do not go on to become full-fledged dentists. Dental school can take from two to four years, depending on the program. An undergraduate degree will usually require only two years of study.
A few fields of dentistry actually require an internship after dental school. During this time, the intern will learn how to perform basic procedures and preventative techniques on patients with different types of disease. Interns may also be required to work in a dentist’s office, providing hands-on patient care. The goal of an internship is to get the student ready to enter the profession and get some hands-on experience, so it is not uncommon for dentists to feel a bit overwhelmed by this experience.
The American Dental Association offers various educational programs and training to prepare students for the profession. Some of these include dental hygienists, medical assistants, radiology technicians, dental technicians, licensed practical nurses, dental specialists and oral surgeons. There are also college degree programs online designed to prepare students for a career in the dental field.