What is a Dentist?

At its core, a dentist is a specialized medical professional who focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing issues relating to the teeth and oral cavity.

This field, known as dentistry, encompasses a wide range of practices, with dentists needing to be as skilled at nuanced procedures as they are with interpersonal patient care.

The Importance of Dental Health

The value of dental health cannot be overstated.

Issues in the mouth can lead to pain, discomfort, and even more severe health problems if left unchecked.

Regular visits to the dentist form a crucial pillar of self-care, and by understanding what dentists do, we can appreciate their pivotal role in our holistic health.

Table of Content

Key Takeaway

  • Dentists diagnose and treat oral health problems, from cavities to gum disease.
  • They also provide preventive care like cleanings and X-rays to maintain good oral health.
  • To become a dentist, you'll need a DDS or DMD degree and state licensure.
  • Consider factors like location, insurance, and reviews when finding the right dentist for you.

II. Roles and Responsibilities of a Dentist

Diagnose and Treat Oral Health Problems

Dentists are often the first line of medical professionals who identify and treat a broad spectrum of issues.

This can range from the common cavity and gum disease to rarer oral cancers.

They employ various tools, from the humble mirror to complex imaging technology, to detect anomalies and create tailored treatment plans for their patients.

Preventive Care

The adage that prevention is better than cure rings especially true in dentistry.

Dentists provide a plethora of services aimed at stopping problems before they start.

Regular cleanings, application of sealants, and X-rays are just a few methods to ensure that your oral health stays on track.

Cosmetic Dentistry

In the age of the selfie, the demand for a perfect smile has led to the rise of cosmetic dentistry.

Dentists in this field are adept at enhancing the aesthetics of a patient's smile, with services ranging from simple teeth whitening to the placement of dental implants and veneers.

III. Considering a Career in Dentistry


Becoming a dentist is a rigorous academic pursuit. Prospective dentists typically complete a bachelor's degree before entering a dental degree program.

In the United States, there are two paths to becoming a dentist – the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degrees.

The dental programs are four years in length and cover intensive coursework in various aspects of dentistry.


After dental school, some graduates choose to pursue additional training through postgraduate programs or residencies.

These programs can offer a deeper exposure to a specific area of dentistry, such as endodontics or oral surgery, and can be an advantage in the job market.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

To practice, dentists must be licensed in the state in which they work.

This involves passing the National Board Dental Examinations and any other state requirements.

Additionally, dentists can choose to become board-certified in various specialties through the American Board of Dental Specialties.

Important Qualities

Successful dentists share key characteristics, including dexterity, problem-solving skills, compassion, and excellent business acumen, especially for those running their private practices.

IV. Finding a Dentist

Factors to Consider

When searching for a dentist, it's essential to consider practical factors such as location, insurance coverage, and the dentist's expertise and experience.

Personal comfort and how well a dentist communicates also play crucial roles in patient satisfaction.

Resources for Finding a Dentist

Fortunately, there are numerous resources available to aid in the search for the right dentist.

The American Dental Association (ADA) provides a searchable database of member dentists, while personal recommendations from family and friends can be invaluable insights.

V. Additional Information

When Should I See a Dentist?

It's recommended that individuals visit a dentist for a checkup and cleaning at least twice a year.

However, any sign of oral discomfort or irregularity should prompt an immediate visit to the dentist.

What's a Board-Certified Dentist?

A board-certified dentist has gone through additional rigorous training and evaluations to demonstrate exceptional skill and knowledge in a particular dental specialty.

What If I'm Anxious About Visiting the Dentist?

Dental anxiety is a common concern. Many dental offices offer a range of methods to help their patients relax, from soothing environments to sedation options.

Different Types of Dentists

While the general dentist is the most recognized, there are various dental specialties, including periodontics, orthodontics, and pediatric dentistry, each addressing specific patient needs and conditions.

Dental Emergencies

Knowing what to do in a dental emergency can be critical. Always have your dentist's contact information readily available and familiarize yourself with immediate care procedures for common issues.

Cost of Dental Care

Understanding the costs associated with dental care, as well as available payment options or financing, is part of responsible dental health management. Dental insurance and Health Savings Accounts can help mitigate expenses.

VI. Conclusion

Regular trips to the dentist are not just about maintaining a bright smile; they are about safeguarding our health.

Dentists are skilled professionals, dedicated to helping us achieve optimal oral wellness, and by taking an active interest in dental care, we partner with them in that noble endeavor.

Understanding the depth of the dentist's role, the career paths to becoming one, and how to engage with a practitioner, enriches our knowledge and empowers us to make informed decisions that positively impact our health.

Whether it's a routine cleaning or an involved procedure, the dentist and the wealth of knowledge they hold are assets worth cherishing.

In a world full of complex health issues, the dentist's commitment to their craft and their patients is a reassuring constant. They strive not only to fix problems but to cultivate a culture of preventative care — a vision we can all aspire to.

Dentist FAQs

What is a dentist person called?

A dentist can simply be called a dentist. DDS or DMD: These are abbreviations for the degrees a dentist holds - Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry. You might see these after a dentist's name (e.g., Dr. Smith, DDS).

How do people afford to go to the dentist?

Affordable dental care options include dental insurance, public or charity programs, dental savings plans, payment plans, and financing options. Prioritizing preventive care can also save money in the long run.

What is it called to be a dentist?

The profession of dentistry is simply called dentistry. You can say someone practices dentistry or works in dentistry.

What is the full meaning of dentist?

Translates to "one who works with teeth.