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So you think you want to be a dentist?

Discussion in 'Pre-Dental' started by MolarBear93, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. MolarBear93

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    I've created this in response to attitudes of interactions with people I have met as well as certain arguments that arise between pre-meds and pre-dents about the current conception of dentistry and dental school. What I am about to say is largely from personal experience and opinions that I have gained from being around the profession my entire life. I am not attempting to "prove" why dentistry is better than medicine, as I do not think that is true at all. What I say about dentistry or dental school is not necessarily all-inclusive to dentistry alone, but that's my focus.

    First and foremost, I strongly believe that dentistry is a specialty of medicine. I think it is about time that people stop considering it so separate and give these professionals their due respect. Dentistry often requires intense medical knowledge and even more clinical training. There's a good reason that dentistry has separated itself from medical school, as the treatment of the mouth and related areas requires special attention, knowledge, and concentrated clinical training. There is a lot of ignorance that floats around from laypeople, pre-meds, and yes, even pre-dents. I've told regular people that I'd be going to dental school and they think I mean to become a dental hygienist. Others don't realize that this profession requires four years of post-grad education, possibly an additional 1-6 years of residency, and continuing education for the rest of one's professional career. And then there are pre-meds and pre-dents alike that believe that dental school is an easier option than medical school for one who wants to help people, but can't hack getting into medical school or think dentistry is easier for whatever reason.

    This is for those people.

    Dental school is tough. I'm about to go through it, but I know already that it isn't easy. I have had two family members become dentists. It requires an insane amount of work and I have been told repeatedly that dental school is more work than medical school. And yes, I do believe that. Dentistry requires a wide breadth of knowledge of medicine as well as a host of clinical skills that must be learned. School requires a ton of lab work that most practicing dentists today would never dream of doing ever again. And there are several schools now that incorporate a medical school curriculum into their didactic learning, but this is in addition to all of the coursework and lab work associated with dentistry alone. Dental school is also insanely expensive, unparalleled to most other programs out there. A dental school can range from around 50K to over 100K a year. That is not a commitment to take lightly by any means. This is all just the tip of the iceberg.

    Getting into dental school is tough. The thought to come to dental school shouldn't be based on the idea that the DAT is easier or that you don't have to be as smart as a medical student to get in. Sure, I'd wager the MCAT (especially with the new test) is probably harder than the DAT (I haven't taken it, but that's my impression). But that does not mean the DAT is easy to do well on. And besides doing well on the DAT, schools look for good GPAs, extracurriculars, shadowing experience, and a good personality. It can be extremely difficult to get into one school, let alone some of the top schools in the country. It is a daunting process, because again, dental school is a professional program. This is a career, not just a job.

    Finally, being a dentist is tough. I'm going to make the first direct comparison between dentistry and medicine and say that being a general practitioner in dentistry is harder than being a primary care doctor in medicine. The cost of running a dental practice is astronomical, especially if you plan to have all the cutting edge equipment. Many dentists have to be incredible business people to manage a practice. If you take dental insurance, you'll learn very quickly that it's not really insurance (and hasn't changed much in 30 years at that). You'll learn that people are much different as patients than they were 50 years ago. Dentists are now facing an overwhelming surge of people who are afraid to get treatment or refuse to get the treatment that they need in the interest of money, time, or some other factor. It can be very hard to do our jobs when we see children who will not even sit for a prophy or a grown adult who would rather let their teeth rot than get the fillings/root canals, while paying for hundreds of dollars in tattoos. Dentistry can also take an alarming physical toll on the body. Between hearing loss from being around drills, contorting your body during procedures that can take hours every week, and other stresses, it is a demanding career that you can see change someone. I'm not saying that medical doctors don't face some of these problems at one point or another, but I think that dentistry uniquely combines many of these stresses at once. Dentists are always working hard and long hours to produce a product that requires attention, care, and physical work.



    I haven't said any of these things in an attempt to deter anyone from this profession. I obviously think it is a great and worthwhile career, or I would not be pursuing it. Dentistry comes with job stressors, just as every other one does. I am not trying to insinuate that dentistry is the hardest job ever, because it is not. But I want people to realize that dentists work very hard and sacrifice a lot. It is not a career to choose lightly. I think that being a dentist can be harder than ever these days in this economy, and it requires just that much more work to be successful, especially under the thumb of crippling debt right out of school. But in the end, I think it is a great career choice for those who are passionate about it. I think it can be a great alternative to medical school for those who like medicine, but I do not think that it is a second choice or an easier path for the misconceptions I outlined above. So good luck to those who still choose it in spite of the hardships, because at the end you'll be a doctor helping others!
     
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  3. tooth knockn

    tooth knockn Treat others how you want to be treated
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    Nice article

    Who wrote it

    And from which paper.
     
    Pearl E. White likes this.
  4. MolarBear93

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    I can't decide whether I should take your insinuation of plagiarism as a compliment or not.
     
  5. cotoncub

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    I agree with you on most accounts except for your comparison between general dentistry and primary care. My father is a primary care physician who has been working for 30 years now. The business side of things is difficult for internists as well if they are in private practice. Yes you don't have the same level of instrumentation/restorative material, but the actual clinical practice is much more difficult. The breath of knowledge necessary to be a successful internist in being able to make those key diagnoses often with patients not necessarily providing the right information when you question them, etc makes the field difficult. He has told me of the countless situations in which patients have come to him from other doctors that made misdiagnoses only for him to ask the right questions (due to his experience) to get what he needs to put them on the right path to successful treatment.

    Then again, what we discuss is purely anecdotal so obviously your experiences from speaking with primary care physicians and dentists is totally different. I am only going from what I know from speaking with my brother (also a dentist, although he is doing OMFS) his friends who are practicing general dentists, etc.
     
  6. MRZ8

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    "If you take dental insurance, you'll learn very quickly that it's not really insurance (and hasn't changed much in 30 years at that)."

    Why do you say that? Could you explain why? I don't know much about this field.

    ps I agree that there's too many misconceptions about dentistry as being second to medicine.
     
  7. DentalDoge

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    Youre close, but haven't hit the nail on the head.

    As far as I can tell, dental school is neither harder nor easier than med school. Just different.

    I've taken both the MCAT and DAT. I will admit the DAT seemed easier. But Ive only taken the DAT 1 time and the MCAT 3 times. And having been to interviews for both the med schools and dental schools. I got the impression that most med schools (allopathic) focuses on numbers, statistics, while dental schools usually has a very holistic approach. That might be just to the sheer differences in class sizes though.

    Lastly, dentistry is just DIFFERENT medicine. The elephant in the room is that medicine is dominated by corporations. Even if you go into private practice, you are still tied to a hospital in some way. Fortunately, dentistry has not gone down that road just yet. It is still possible to open or take over a dental practice without any ties to Heartland or Aspen.

    Of course, one of the most crippling aspect of dentistry is the cost of education. Best thing you can do is talk to your state representatives and lobby for affordable dental education.

    Hope this add some clarity to original post.
     
    tooth knockn likes this.
  8. MolarBear93

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    Most dental insurance plans that I have seen run like this: You get dental insurance through an employer. They pay some fee for you to have this insurance. But this insurance is in fact a benefit plan, that gives you a certain allocation of money each year to get work done. This amount seems to usually be enough for minor procedures (a prophy, a filling or two), but will no where near cover the costs of a person needing major procedures or surgeries. Since dental disease is a fairly ubiquitous problem and oral diseases don't just go away on their own like other health problems may, dental insurance companies would never actually be able to afford doling out actual insurance. The insurance companies further control the situation by limiting what treatments you can receive. For example, I've seen many that do not cover fluoride and even a few that one only insure amalgam fillings.
     
  9. MolarBear93

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    Like I said, this wasn't a side-by-side comparison of dentistry to medicine. I only compared the two a couple of times.
     
    Confused1617 and OSUkid like this.
  10. Daneosaurus

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    Yet again, close but not quite. Usually 2x/year prophys and 1x/yr X-rays are covered 100%. The out of pocket cost for the patient for certain items (fillings, crowns, maybe other things?) are lower because of copays. But then there's a cap of like $1000 for everything else. So if the patient needs 4 rct, and their cap is $1000, 3 aren't getting treated that year, lest the patient incur the full cost.

    Edit to add: Essentially, dental insurance is closer to a groupon than it is to health insurance.
     
  11. MolarBear93

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    Okay, I was grossly oversimplifying it. No need to get nit-picky. The main point is that it's not insurance.
     
    Daneosaurus likes this.
  12. Daneosaurus

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    Hahaha. Sorry about that. Was just trying to clarify and add something because I haven't been on SDN in a hot minute.
     
    MolarBear93 likes this.
  13. OSUkid

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    LoL I read a few lines, the molarbear 13 or 93 which ever one makes great points, but who cares. Once I saw the subject "Soo you want to be a...." I immediately thought of :bullcrap:. If I want something in life, I make it happen, theres no questioning it. I think we all know grad school is tough, big bear.
    However, great pep talk molarbear 13
     
  14. MolarBear93

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    We all want things in life my dear friend. And as you can easily see from the general acceptance rates, not everyone gets what they want. Thanks for the compliment kiddo.
     
  15. OSUkid

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    Not everyone is Harvey Specter.
    upload_2015-8-6_2-32-35.png
     

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