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DDS vs DO/MD reasons

Discussion in 'Pre-Dental' started by xraydoc, Aug 18, 2002.

  1. xraydoc

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    Hello all,

    I would like to know why some of you decided to persue the DDS instead of another medical degree. I am a DO (radiologist) and never really considered another avenue of medicine. I have a young friend that I have been counseling (apparently unsucessfully) to go to medical school. I enjoy what I do and am naturally biased toward my profession and not against the DDS. I just don't know if the reasons he gives are valid or not; maybe you guys can help. I really wish him the best, but I just want him to make an informed decision and not regret it later. These are his reasons he gives for going the DDS way:

    1) easier than medical school (this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me)

    2) fewer years of training until you make "real money" he wants to start a family and thinks he will be able to start bing a dentist right out of dental school and make money to support a family

    3) he figures his family dentist grosses 2million a year: he states he has a mansion and another house as well. I personally have no idea how much a dentist makes.

    4) he states he thinks it would be fun to be a general dentist. ( do most people going for the DDS want to be generalists? Or do many want to specialize? what are the pros and cons of each. I told him that maybe it would be better and more challenging to be an oral surgeon.

    Any information that you guys can supply would be great! I have always been kind of ignorant of the medical education of the future DDS, this should help me as well!

    Heres to more cross degree exchange of information.

    regards

    xraydoc.
     
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  3. Centrum

    Centrum SMILEY KING

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    Dr. Jeff? Where oh were is Dr. Jeff?
     
  4. xraydoc

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    Here are another couple reasons that he gives that I forgot to add.

    a lot fewer hours than DO/MD. He thinks he will have more time to spend with family.

    easier post graduate training (fewer hours)

    thanks again.
    :)
     
  5. hockeydentist

    hockeydentist 1K Member

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    In response to your post xraydoc

    As far as medical school being harder or easier than Dental school, there both very competive and tough to get into. Its a long and tough journey. There is no easy way out when it comes to going to school.

    As far as the money issue. I think your little protege should go into another field like a business or finance. Dentistry or medicine for that matter is not about the money. That shoud not be his number one reason for going into Dentistry or medicine for that matter.

    I hope this helps out a little
    my 2cents

    hockeydentist
     
  6. UBTom

    UBTom Class '04 official geezer

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  7. ItsGavinC

    Dentist Moderator Emeritus

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    Here are my takes on the original points:

    1) easier than medical school (this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me) Doesn't make sense to me either. I (generally) disagree with this point. If I attend a dental school where I am mixed in with the med students, then my clinical years are spent taking classes with them as well as *additional* classes pertinent to dentistry and oral physiology.

    2) fewer years of training until you make "real money" he wants to start a family and thinks he will be able to start bing a dentist right out of dental school and make money to support a family True, for the most part. Of course, the amount of "money" he makes will very depending on where he lives, what type of practice he enters into, overhead, etc. Once again though, generally a dentist right out of school can make $70,000 or more (depending on massive variables). This number is *far* better than any MD/DO residency programs (which our counterparts will be in at the same time we are graduating/beginning practices).

    3) he figures his family dentist grosses 2million a year: he states he has a mansion and another house as well. I personally have no idea how much a dentist makes. Not at all unbelievable, although numbers are often inflated for boasting purposes, or to prove a point.

    Some numbers from the American Dental Association regarding income of dentists:

    ? The average net income of a new independant dentists in the US is $147,000. The average net income of an new specialist is $210,000.

    ? The average income for a general dentist is $158,000, and $240,000 for a specialist. These numbers are from data which is 2-3 years old, and dental incomes have risen steadily since the 1980s.

    ? Dentists, on average, work 29-33 hours a week. NOTE: new dentists will work more than this as they attempt to establish a practice or enter an associateship. These short workweeks are most applicable to those who have been practicing for 5 years or more.

    4) he states he thinks it would be fun to be a general dentist. ( do most people going for the DDS want to be generalists? Or do many want to specialize? what are the pros and cons of each. I told him that maybe it would be better and more challenging to be an oral surgeon. Perhaps it would be more challenging, although one might debate that the quality of life is far better for a general dentist. Dentistry is unique, in that general dentists are able to treat oral problems that they feel comfortable treating. The general rule of them is that you refer a patient if you are not competant in a certain area. For example, a general dentist is able to perform orthodontic work on their patients, if they are able to do it in a manner which demonstrates the same competancy that an orthodontist would have. Conversely, an orthodontist is *not* able to provide general dental care to their patients (due to a code of dental ethics), and is limited to strictly orthodontal care.

    As you can see from the income information, specialists have far greater earning power (on the average), but many prefer the "randomness" of being a general dentistry. A general dentists sees (and treats!) a broad sample of oral problems in a single day. An endodontist, on the other hand, sees the same general situations each day.

    For more information on income, check out Dental Income and Expenses.

    For me, the choice to become a dentist revolved around not only the stable income I could earn, but the opportunity to be with my wife and children for a greater amount of time. The autonomy of owning my own business was an added benefit (albeit a stress as well). The strong unifying factor of the ADA is a tremendous benefit, which has been extremely succesful in limiting the influence of health organizations on dentistry (HMOs, DMOs, etc.)

    I hope that this helped somewhat.
     
  8. ItsGavinC

    Dentist Moderator Emeritus

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    xraydoc,

    A bit more...

    I forgot to mention that you are in a field which is highly coveted right now -- rads is notorious for great pay and great hours. Not all students are as lucky as you to match with a speciality they are truly passionate about.

    Likewise, dentistry can offer great pay and great hours, largely without feeling the effects of insurance plans. Much of dentistry is still a fee-for-service profession, which is a huge selling point for those interested in a health-related career. It sounds like your friend appreciates these benefits and recognizes the pros of choosing such a career.

    Most of your friend's reasons for choosing dentistry are extremely valid (except for the first you listed) -- but he/she should be encouraged to continue to research the field.

    My question for you is thus: why are you couseling him to go to medical school? Certainly, dentistry (teeth) is just as valid a speciality as rads, anes. (gas), optho (eyes), etc. In recent times, many more applicants are finding it to be a *better* option than the MD specialties.

    Thanks for posting your questions! It sounds as though you are a caring friend. :D
     
  9. gryffindor

    Dentist

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    xray doc, in dentistry, only about 20% of dentists go onto specialize. 80% practice general dentistry. This is the opposite of medicine where there are many more specialists than general physicians. A major reason for this is because we only have 9 specialties in dentistry, unlike the plethora of specialties in medicine. It is not necessarily "better" to be an oral surgeon and if your friend's ultimate goals are to be with his family and make "real"money faster, OMS wouldn't be the way to go since it is an additional 4 - 6 years of training after dental school. There is nothing wrong for him to desire these factors out of his career.

    I had many teachers and mentors pushing me to go to medical school, even though I have been set on dental school since senior year of high school. During college I seriously thought about the differences between the two and why I really wanted to do dentistry. I decided that the oral cavity is the part of biology I have always really wanted to study. I could care less about setting a fractured tibia or how to treat GI problems so I didn't see why I had to torture myself through med school and learn all that stuff. Also, I don't think I would ever make it out of the Ob/Gyn and surgery rotations during third year alive b/c that just doesn't appeal to me at all. But root canals and dentures - bring it on! I really only want to deal will teeth and the tissues of the head and neck region. Why would I spend four years in med school if I have already decided on the portion of the body I want to treat? That's why there is dental school. The artitstic side of dentistry also appeals to me. You have to be somewhat of a perfectionist and anal when it comes to cosmetically restoring a smile. And you get to play with cool materials all day.

    There are still "medical" aspects to our profession; it is not all about fixing cavities. I have patients that I counsel about smoking cessation b/c their general physicians either don't talk to them about it or have given up on them. I also talk to my patients about proper nutrition and encourage them about losing weight and excercizing since they see me at the dental clinic more often than they see their physicians.

    ItsGavinC summed up the points extremely well. Residency is still not mandatory in dentistry so you can begin practicing right after you graduate from school, thus earning a real income before our medical counterparts. Since a dentist has to be trained to do a lot before graduating in order to jump into private practice right away, dental school is actually more involved than medical school. Not necessarily harder, just more work during the four years of school. And after living with a med student during my first two years of dental school, I can attest that my schedule was definitely much more packed with school than my roommates. But her residency will be hellish while I don't even have to do one if I so choose.

    ItsGavinC - I am really impressed, especially with the your specialty/referral answer. You know what you are getting yourself and have left very little room for surprise. Awesome!

    hockeydentist - if you are still a predent, of course you would think that "dentistry is not about the money." That would be the "right" answer to tell the adcom. But, many of my dental classmates know they will be raking it in and are already planning on what to do with the money they don't yet have. And they have good reason to think they will earn a lot - many of their parents are dentists and earn loads of $$$ and live lavishly. There are many dentists (and physicians) out there to whom it is about caring for the patients, but also the money. Just a thought for you naive souls.
     
  10. Centrum

    Centrum SMILEY KING

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    Great posts Gavin and Griffin!!! :clap: :clap:
     
  11. hockeydentist

    hockeydentist 1K Member

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    Griffin

    I am not being naive about the fact that Dentist do make a whole lotta cash. I just think that If you really want to be a dentist money should not be the first motivator. There are many avenues that one can make a ton of money. I just think that if you allow money to control your ever whim, then your more likely to be influenced by the buck. Instead of being the dentist that people can trust, your the dentist that does unecessary work on people just to make that quick buck.

    hockeydentist
     
  12. xraydoc

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    Thanks to all! Very helpful posts. I copied them all to my friend.
     

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