Nov 30, 2010
2
0
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Pre-Dental
Hello all,

I have been a follower of SDN for some time, and really enjoy the input. I just want to throw a couple ideas out there after considering dentistry. Does anyone actually consider going to dental school just to be a general dentist? It seems everyone wants to specialize. Has this always been the state of dentistry where everyone just tries to get into residency programs? It just seems that the specialties are glorified, and mostly negative things are said concerning general dentistry. There was a post recently that said something along the lines of 'specializing is the right thing to do.' I'd be interested to hear some general dentists take on this. Thanks
 

ortho lurker

7+ Year Member
Sep 22, 2010
211
12
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Dentist
There was a post recently that said something along the lines of 'specializing is the right thing to do.'
Specializing is the right thing to do ONLY if you like that particular area. There is nothing wrong with general dentistry and in fact it also allows a broader scope of procedures that you can do. Also, if you are a people person and enjoy developing those long term patient-doctor relationships with the community then general is the way to go (ortho you only see patients for 2 years, while o.s., endo, and perio may only be 1 and done procedures, and pedo you only see them up to a certain age). Choose a career as a hobby first and you will not regret it. You have to ask yourself, will I look forward going to the office every morning?
 
Jul 10, 2007
1,614
838
SoCal
us.i1.yimg.com
Status
Dentist
There is nothing wrong with general dentistry and in fact it also allows a broader scope of procedures that you can do.
I think "broader scope of procedures" is the problem that makes several GPs unhappy about their profession. For example, certain GPs hate doing scaling and root planning but have to do them because their practices are new and they can't afford to hire a hygienist. Certain GPs hate making dentures but have to make them because they don't want to lose the patients to another GP down the street. An inexperienced associate GP hates to do molar RCT and tries to refer out but the owner doc forces him/her to do it….or else, gets fired. I've worked at the chain offices for 10 years and I have seen many unhappy GPs (new grads and some who have been out 5-10 years) who came and left. Many of them regretted that they didn't work hard in dental schools and it is too late to specialize (they can't re-take the national board exam).

Many people think that it is boring to be a specialist because of the limited number of procedures that a specialist can perform. It is actually a good thing to do the same highly paid procedures every day. You face the similar complications (no new unforeseeable complications) and you can easily deal with them. By doing the same ortho procedures everyday, I don't have to give lengthy instructions to my assistants. Simplicity in ortho = great lifestyle.

Even a least desirable specialty, such as periodontics, is still better than general dentistry. When he knew that I got accepted to dental school, my brother's orthodontist offered me this advice: "Charlestweed, you must specialize after dental school." When I finished my ortho residency, this same ortho told me: "Charlestweed, you must set up your own practice." Last week, I met this orthodontist at a concert and I thanked him for offering me such valuable advice.
 
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Dec 27, 2009
62
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Just curious, how are the lifestyles in terms of hours worked of the residencies compared to being out in practice.
 
OP
M
Nov 30, 2010
2
0
Status
Pre-Dental
Even a least desirable specialty, such as periodontics, is still better than general dentistry.
Thanks for the advice charlestweed, but with all due respect if I were a general dentist I feel like I would take offense to that. I doubt with the 4,000 dental graduates every year that each general dentist in America wishes they had specialized, but maybe my ignorance blinds my thought process.
 
Jul 10, 2007
1,614
838
SoCal
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Status
Dentist
I hope that you're saying all of this from your personal perspective and not as a general statement...
Thanks for the advice charlestweed, but with all due respect if I were a general dentist I feel like I would take offense to that. I doubt with the 4,000 dental graduates every year that each general dentist in America wishes they had specialized, but maybe my ignorance blinds my thought process.
Yes, of course, this is from my own personal perspective....in my opinion, one should specialize if he/she chooses to practice in a saturated market like SoCal. When I say it is better I do not mean that specialists are better than GPs....it is better in term of better lifestyle and less work hours.
 

ortho lurker

7+ Year Member
Sep 22, 2010
211
12
Status
Dentist
Many of them regretted that they didn’t work hard in dental schools and it is too late to specialize (they can't re-take the national board exam).
The moral of the story is to keep your class rank up in dental school even if you don't plan on specializing right away (maybe you don't need to be top 10% but at least shoot for top 20-25% if you want to apply for the more desirable specialties later on). Once you get out in private practice you may discover a niche that you would like to focus on. And yes, I do agree that it is easier to make the big bucks in the cities as a specialist because there are a lot more associate jobs available. If you are a gp owner in a more rural setting then it will be easier to accumulate wealth compared to setting up in a saturated market.
 

7 Iron

5+ Year Member
Oct 8, 2010
686
9
Status
Dentist
This is interesting. After I shadowed in GP and endo, I really liked GP due to the doctor-patient relationship that grows over many years, as well as the variety of procedures. Then again charlestweed brought up a good point, I'm sure there are certain procedures that GPs like doing and some they don't. I'm going to enter dental school next year, and I always thought I would become "just a GP" because I thought endo would get boring quickly. But I guess I should keep my options open!
 
Mar 2, 2010
297
1
Status
Dental Student
It's time to bring this thread back to reality.

Dental schools makes you a GP first and specialists second. If you do not enjoy general dentistry nor have any slight interest in ever becoming a GP and ONLY want to do ortho and that is it (there are people like that in dental school) then dental school is going to be a huge risk for you and in an unfortunate event might even be a quarter million dollar four years of a very short life disappointment on match day. Dental school is a whole new level of learning and filled with very intelligent hard working people.

p.s. When you get into dental school, don't tear up if you get 5 points lower on an exam than so so so and now your rank is going to be thrown off and now you won't match into ortho......just don't be that guy/gal.

Also take SDN in general with a grain of salt, many threads such as this one are highly biased and sometimes even ridiculously inaccurate.
 
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cybermech

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2006
270
0
Honolulu, HI
Status
Dental Student
Hello all,

I have been a follower of SDN for some time, and really enjoy the input. I just want to throw a couple ideas out there after considering dentistry. Does anyone actually consider going to dental school just to be a general dentist? It seems everyone wants to specialize. Has this always been the state of dentistry where everyone just tries to get into residency programs? It just seems that the specialties are glorified, and mostly negative things are said concerning general dentistry. There was a post recently that said something along the lines of 'specializing is the right thing to do.' I'd be interested to hear some general dentists take on this. Thanks
SDN is actually a pretty bad group to be polling because I'd say that a large number of people who post here want to become specialists. In reality, the majority of dental students are comfortable becoming general dentists and growing their "family-oriented" practice. You'll never do that endo or OMFS.

The people who advocate becoming specialists forget that they wouldn't have any business without the general dentist. So it's in their best interest to treat their referrers well.

Finally, you might be doing more complicated procedures in specialty practice, but the fact that you do the same procedures day in and day out means that you WILL be better at them by virtue of experience and repetition. On the other hand, I think it'd much harder to have a high level of skill in all areas across the board, as would be the case for the general dentist. Obviously you would refer out the toughest cases to specialists, but ideally you'd be able to treat the majority of cases that come in the door by yourself.
 

ItsGavinC

Moderator Emeritus
15+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2001
11,750
17
Arizona
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The people who advocate becoming specialists forget that they wouldn't have any business without the general dentist.
Except for pedo :D. We are primary care providers AND specialists. For most patients we are primary care providers (they come to us not from referrals of any sort).
 

IHeartEndo

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 26, 2009
27
1
Status
Dentist
Hey Gavin,

I'm just curious. How many pts do you see per day?

And what is the breakdown? i.e. 30 recalls, 10 restorative/nitrous, 5 sedations, ortho, etc?

Thanks

BTW, pay no mind to my username. I had it for a while and am not going into endo...
 

dentalWorks

Nights Watchmen
7+ Year Member
Jun 25, 2009
5,646
158
Sterling Hts, Mi
Status
Dentist
Hello all,

I have been a follower of SDN for some time, and really enjoy the input. I just want to throw a couple ideas out there after considering dentistry. Does anyone actually consider going to dental school just to be a general dentist? It seems everyone wants to specialize. Has this always been the state of dentistry where everyone just tries to get into residency programs? It just seems that the specialties are glorified, and mostly negative things are said concerning general dentistry. There was a post recently that said something along the lines of 'specializing is the right thing to do.' I'd be interested to hear some general dentists take on this. Thanks
this is kinda funny. pre-dents (mostly) say all kinds of things (including myself), we all wanna be orthodontists, oral surgeons (make sure its 6 year MD route, not that 4 year), and finally multi million dollar practice owners.

But in all seriousness, how can a pre-dent REALLY be 100% sure what kinda specialty they wanna go into? Sure there are a few people who make up their mind before dental school and are actually successful at landing their dream residency (armorshell comes to mind) but..... most people either end up changing their mind once they REALLY see and experience dental procedures, or realize their rank, no matter how hard they work, simply never comes near the top and in which case, landing that competitive residency is no longer a viable option.

I did talk to a guy around here in SDN (forgot his name), he was a GP dentist for 8 years, and recently, he applied to OMFS and I think he started his 4-year OMFS path just this past june.

I didn't remember asking him what was his old dental school rank, but apparently, the program that accepted him show alot of favoritism to GPs returning back for OMFS.

I wonder tho, if someone finishes dental school with an "okay" rank (say top 20-25% of the class), works as a GP for some years, and then they decide to specialize, would they be considered competitive?
 

ItsGavinC

Moderator Emeritus
15+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2001
11,750
17
Arizona
Status
Dentist
Hey Gavin,

I'm just curious. How many pts do you see per day?

And what is the breakdown? i.e. 30 recalls, 10 restorative/nitrous, 5 sedations, ortho, etc?

Thanks

BTW, pay no mind to my username. I had it for a while and am not going into endo...
About 60-70 a day. 5 sedations, 5-10 restorative, and the remainder are recare patients (I see them for exams) or sealants (assistants do this) or panos (I review the pano).

I only do treatment in the AM. Afternoon is only exams.
 

ItsGavinC

Moderator Emeritus
15+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2001
11,750
17
Arizona
Status
Dentist
I wonder tho, if someone finishes dental school with an "okay" rank (say top 20-25% of the class), works as a GP for some years, and then they decide to specialize, would they be considered competitive?
I think that some programs value the experience that a practicing dentist brings to the table. Others will shy away from it because they believe that bad habits will have already been learned. So for some it's a positive and for other programs it is a negative.

I would say that you still have to have good grades, however. Top 50% probably isn't good enough, but top 30% might be.