5 Jobs With Teeth in Them

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Dear Guidance Counselor,

I think I would like to do something in the dental field. I graduated from high school two years ago. I'm not sure I want to become a dentist. Can you tell me about some choices I might have? I need help with my career planning! Kate

Dear Kate,

The recession has taken a big bite of available jobs, yet even in a poor economy, people still need to take care of their teeth. The dental field is one with a variety of job options, and each path requires a bit different career planning. Yes, becoming a dentist takes years of study and much determination. There are other alternatives as well in supportive roles to the dentist. Let's chew over some different career development possibilities in the dental field.

5 Jobs With Teeth in Them

1) Dentist: Becoming a dentist is a fairly involved endeavor, requiring four years at an accredited dental school and passing the licensing exam. Most dentists work in solo practices or small groups, and they have a staff to assist them. Dentists do a variety of tasks related to the mouth including gum surgery, cavity fill, teeth capping and more.

2) Dental Hygienist: The dental hygienist spends a fair amount of time helping clean patients' gums and teeth, teaching proper home health care, and assessing possible problems for the dentist to look at. Hygienists must go to a dental hygiene school, usually a two year program, although it is possible to get a bachelor's degree in the field. Hygienists must be licensed as well. The need for hygienists is expected to stay strong into the future.

3) Dental Assistant: As the name implies, these workers assist dentists in many tasks. It is possible to be hired as a dental assistant right out of high school, although certificate and two year programs are available. Some dental assistants cut their teeth in this profession by immersing themselves in on-the-job training.

4) Veterinarian Dentist: While most vets treat animals' teeth, a veterinarian dentist specializes in this area alone. Like becoming a vet or dentist, career development for this profession requires extended training, education, and licensure.

5) Dental Laboratory Technician: This job is for one who likes to make the tools that dentists need like teeth molds. Technicians work in labs or in conjunction with dentists.

As you can see, there are a variety of options in the dental field with a range of educational requisites. The website for the Bureau of Labor Statistics has some excellent information on these job areas.

Do some careful career planning to think what aspects of dentistry interest you most and how much time and energy you can commit to the pursuit of your chosen field. Whichever of these jobs you pick, you can get your degree through a traditional campus school or through an approved and accredited online school. However, because dentistry is literally a hands-on profession, you must also have some exposure to actual patients to be fully trained.

Good luck in your dental endeavors.

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