The truth behind a career in dentistry

Posted by Jiya | Tue, 23 Nov 2021

Read on to find out more about Jiya’s virtual dentistry work placement…

The dentistry industry is competitive however it is hugely rewarding. Competition for dental school places is fierce! You’ll need to get high grades in your A-levels in subjects including biology and chemistry.  After this you must have a dentistry degree which takes 5 years to obtain. Later dentist graduates could be earning £32,000. To become a dental specialist, dentists complete additional training which usually lasts between three to five years. They must also pass a specialist examination. Different specialisms include oral microbiology, cosmetic dentistry, paediatric dentistry etc.

Dentistry can be dated to 7000 BC where it was practiced in the Indus Valley Civilisation. They used flint to remove rotten dental tissue. Before the 17th century, blacksmiths and barbers carried out dental procedures. Pierre Fauchard set the foundations of modern-day dentistry. He was a French Physician that has been credited as “The father of dentistry”. Additionally, advancements of anaesthesia, X-ray equipment have led to the development of the dental profession. In the United Kingdom, the General Dental Council (GDC) is the statutory regulator for 110,000 dental professionals. A dentist who is not registered with the GDC is unable to practise dentistry in the UK. There are values the GDC has put in place to maintain its standards. These include putting the patient’s interests first and communicating effectively to the patient so they are able to make informed decisions.

To assess a patient the dentist should know their medical history, dental history, family history and social history. This includes information on: eating habits, smoking/tobacco use, occupation. A dentist, for example, needs to know if you have any allergies to certain medications in order to avoid using or prescribing them. Dentists carry out examinations. They are known as the Extra-oral (surrounding area on the outside e.g., lips) and Intra-oral (examination on the inside) Following an examination, dentists discuss treatment choices with patients and, if everyone agrees, set up a treatment plan. A treatment plan outlines the procedures that will be performed. It should improve one or more of the following: the functioning of the teeth, the health of the teeth, the appearance of the teeth.

To learn more about the dental profession I spoke with Dr Raahiba Maan a general dentist who owns Bridge dental practice. She is the co-author of the book “Dentistry in a Nutshell”.


What do you do on a day-day basis?

My job involves seeing patients, averaging about 20 to 30 patients, depending on what I’m doing. I’m also Practice Owner, so I manage the staff and any problems that arise from my work. The practice owners take on responsibilities such as payments, stock ordering just making sure everything is running smoothly and patients are happy. I’ve got an Instagram account, so I am responsible for replying to people on there to ask for help and also keeping it up to date with things.


What are the challenges you face?

It can be challenging in itself as a career, because obviously you’re very busy. it’s just about constantly working on yourself and making sure you’re happy and healthy and available for patients 100% of the time. Buying a practice during the pandemic was really tricky because we’re trying to learn how to run a business and then learn it during COVID times, so it was about managing them to the best of our ability, keeping our staff and patients happy. I think we overcame that by working as a team. So, I always say to people who look into buying a practice. If you buy it with partners that you trust, it makes it a lot easier to survive the difficult times and share the workload.


What are some misconceptions people have of dentistry?

I think a lot of people are afraid of the dentist. Dentists are very open and they communicate clearly and you’ll find when any patients come into my room I’ll tell them step by step what I’m going to do as I do it. I give them the opportunity to stop me at any time, so that they feel like they’re fully in control and at the end I’ll sit there and I’ll show them pictures I’ve taken of inside their mouth. I’ll describe the X rays and tell them what’s going on. We are trying to do the best for our patients and keep them really involved with their treatment.


What have been your best experiences as a dentist?

Having this ability just to help people every day, you get people out of pain or you give people the ability to chew or smile. Getting on social media, being able to connect with other dentists, and being able to inspire them.  Being able to support other dentists and make them feel better about themselves. Writing my book which will help future dentists, all the profits from my book go to charities.


Author Biography

Jiya is a year 10 student from Watford grammar School for Girls and she is currently taking part in the silver award. Her main interests are Medicine and Maths.

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