A dentist is an expert in the practice of dentistry. This professional helps to diagnose and treat conditions and diseases of the oral cavity, while also helping to prevent such. Also known as dental surgeons, dentists perform surgical procedures to deal with problems of the teeth. They offer teeth cleaning, endodontic therapy, restorative and periodontal therapy services. These professionals are qualified to prescribe drugs, such as painkillers, antibiotics, sedatives and fluorides, for the treatment of conditions affecting the head and neck.
Typically, a bachelor’s degree is required for interested individuals to be admitted into dental schools in the United States. Courses such as biology, chemistry and physics must have been taken by the applicant. Before being admitted, aspiring dentists must take and pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT), preferably a year prior to admission. Successful graduates of dental schools are awarded a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) Doctor of Dental Science (DDSc) degree, depending on the school attended. These qualifications are basically equal.
Many dentists in the U.S. practice independently as generalists or specialists. Some of the specialty areas where practitioners may choose to engage include endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, cosmetic dentistry, pediatric dentistry and orthodontics. The total number of dentistry practitioners in America is estimated at about 980,000.
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