A dentist’s service is aimed at the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of numerous dental problems and diseases of the teeth, gums and mouth. This includes the correction of missing and faulty teeth.
What am I going to do in this occupation?
The dentist’s task comprises five basic components:
It is a known fact that there exists a definite relation between the general health of people and the condition of their teeth. The mouth is often the first place where systemic illnesses manifest themselves.
Dentists give preventive dental care by supplying the patients with information concerning the control of tooth decay, how to maintain oral hygiene and how to remove plaque.
Dentists treat patients by removing teeth, filling cavities, treating abscesses and gum infections and straightening teeth. They take impressions of the mouth, which are used to make false teeth, crowns and bridges.
This includes the removal of teeth and the treatment of jaw fractures.
Once the dentists enter into private practice, a certain amount of managerial skills would be demanded of them. Dentists ought to include both dental practice management and patient care management.
A patient ought to visit the dentist at least once every six months for a routine check-up. If there is tooth decay, the teeth must be repaired. Usually the dentist starts by anaesthetising the tooth and drilling away the infected tissue by means of a high-speed drill. The tooth is kept cool by water, spraying from the drill. Cotton wool swabs and suction apparatus in the mouth keep the teeth dry from saliva. Once the decaying tissue is removed, the bad spot on the tooth is disinfected and after it has dried, a protective undercoat is put on. After this has been done the amalgam, or tooth coloured filling, is placed in position.
The removal of teeth is another task a dentist performs and it can be done under general or local anaesthetic. A great measure of skill is required to remove a tooth.
Few practising dentists still manufacture dentures. The dentist manufactures, with the use of plaster, a precise replica or model of the mouth. Most dentists send the models to the laboratory of a qualified dental technician, which manufactures the dentures.
Dental assistants usually assist dentists. They are also assisted by an oral hygienist, who informs the patients about oral hygiene and tooth brushing techniques.
What kind of personality do I need? Manual dexterity is a requirement, since delicate work must be performed quickly and with care. Dentists must be friendly and caring. They must be able to communicate well with their patients. Dentists’ work is sometimes of a strenuous nature and they must be able to work well under pressure.
Where can I work?
Dentists who prefer a fixed salary with additional benefits to a private practice, may be employed by the following institutions: Department of Health, the National Defence Force, the Chamber of Mines, provincial administrations and universities and, as well as hospitals and clinics.
Can I work for myself in this occupation?
Most dentists enter into private practice, where their income depends directly on the size and turnover of the practice. Because the dentists’ services are so essential, they will never have a shortage of work.