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Home > Daily Dental Care > Your Dentist Visit > Your Dentist DMD Unmasked
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Your Dentist DMD Unmasked


Deciding which dentist DMD to visit for your impacted wisdom tooth and other mouth problems requires ... well ... wisdom. There are over 120,000 general DMDs licensed throughout the country, and about 15 percent have specialist training, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). So how do you choose? Very carefully. But no matter whom you choose, know that the dentist you visit is highly educated. Your dentist DMD went through years of academics and practice to deliver the best oral health possible.

How did your dentist get started? Here's a look behind the mask - the general DMD career path from high school through specialty training:

Grounded in Science: A DMD’s Root Interests

DMD – Discover the path of a dentist DMD or DDS.

Before she or he (we'll use "she" to cut keyboard clicks) learns to tame your toothache or make an impact on impactions, she develops an interest in health or science. DMD dentistry interest may start earlier than high school and eventually focuses on biology, chemistry, physics and math. This might lead her to major in science while in college.

Most dentist DMDs earn a bachelor's degree before applying to dental school. Though a few schools of dentistry accept 2-3 years of undergraduate work as a prerequisite, most urge dental students to complete a bachelor's of science degree.

To get into dental school though, your dental hero wrestled with a Dental Admissions Test (DAT). Dental schools look at DAT scores, undergrad grade point averages, recommendations from professors and employers and interviews with the applicant. The BLS says the competition of getting into dentistry gets tough.

Once in, your aspiring DMD signed on for four more years of schooling. (Some American schools offer two-year programs for dentists previously trained abroad.)

Your Dentist DMD’s Education: Dental School

We suspect going to dental school isn't quite as bad as working seven years for food, housing and clothing, but there are some similarities if you consider campus cafeterias, dorm rooms and scrubs. In return, your DMD received two years of classroom training in anatomy, microbiology and biochemistry to name a few. Then she completed two years of practical DMD dentistry in a clinic where she administered anesthesia, fit dentures, performed endodontic treatments and warded off xerostomia (dry mouth) and much more before graduating.

At the end of it all, your dentist earned a DMD or a DDS, depending on which school she attended. The American Dental Association says there is no difference between a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) and a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) - both degrees require the same, basic course work. But your dentist did not set up shop and hang a shingle yet.

Licensed to Drill: DMD Dentistry’s Last Requirement

So your dentist finally earned her credentials. But before she practiced in your state, she passed written and practical examinations. More than likely she took the National Board Dental Examination, which fulfills part of each state's requirement. Some states require further examinations.

Is Your DMD Done Yet? Nope!

Your dentist will pursue updated training throughout her career. New advances in technology, new health and safety laws and new dental products require continuing education. Laser dentistry or invisible dental braces are perfect examples of what a dentist DMD might need to learn to stay current.

And education continues for approximately 18,000 DMDs who choose to specialize. The American Dental Association recognizes nine particular dental specialties. Your dentist DMD may have chosen one of these fields before or after getting her license:

Dental Public Health -Your DMD learned the art of disease prevention and control when it comes to dental health for a whole community.

Endodontics - All dentist DMDs learn root canals, but some complicated pulpitis or tooth abscess cases require specialist dentistry.

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology - DMD dentistry in this category deals with cause, effect and process of diseases like oral cancer.

Oral Maxillofacial Radiology - This DMD produces and interprets imaging relating to mouth problems.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery - Know someone with tongue cancer or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD)? Chances are that person will see an oral surgeon for treatment and therapy.

Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics - This is the DMD to see for malocclusion and neuromuscular or skeletal abnormalities.

Pediatric Dentistry - From infants to teens to people with special needs, your pediatric dentist handles them all.

Periodontics - A dentist DMD in periodontics keeps the soft tissues and supports for your teeth in good health. All DMDs deal with gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis, but a periodontist may be your best bet for a severe case.

Prosthodontics - Something missing from your mouth? A prosthodontic specialist fills in the gaps from missing teeth, collapsing oral tissues, jaws and more. Ask your prosthodontic DMD about biocompatible substitutions.

Narrowing the DMD Dentistry Field

Eight to 14 years of specialized education (some specialties entail six years of grad school) produce a very educated dentist DMD indeed!

If you need help finding the right DMD for yourself or your family, let us know. You can reach us at 1-866-970-0441.

We can find the right DMD or DMD Dentistry specialist near you.

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