Dentistry Frequently Asked Questions

How does a dentist manage his time to meet the demands of his patients?

Although dentists are trained in the operations that have become synonymous with the various specialty fields of dentistry, family dentists often choose to send these more lengthy and complicated procedures out to a specialist. This allows the general dentist to serve more of

What are the character traits of a good dentist?

Enjoying the work you do can certainly help you to become good at it. Those who feel personally rewarded by helping others may find a career in dentistry appealing. A confident and reassuring demeanor can be very helpful when working with a reluctant patient. Good interpersonal skills are a must as there are few professionals that work as closely with their clients as dentists.

Although many dentists and dental specialists would refer to their profession as an art, they would be quick to point out that it is first a science that has advanced over many years. Because there is a scientific method to dentistry, the willingness and ability to follow a text-book approach, without compromise for time or convenience, is crucial to being a good dentist. A good dentist is exacting in his work and very detail oriented. Some dentists who are recognized for excellence in their field refer to themselves as perfectionists.

What is the importance of manual dexterity?

The daily procedures of a dentist require a tremendous amount of coordination and manual dexterity. In fact, as part of the standardized dental school admissions application process, a would-be student is asked to explain how they have proved themselves to be manually dexterous enough for a career in dentistry. Everything from playing guitar to tying fishing flies can help develop the dexterity needed to more safely perform dental procedures.

What are some challenges dentists encounter?

Dentistry in all it’s variations can be physically demanding and carry with it long hours. A dentist must be available to his patients in the event of dental emergency and is usually on-call, at least in a consolatory capacity, all hours of the day. With walk-in emergencies dentists can find themselves working well beyond their normal hours of practice. Because dentistry is commonly associated with pain, a dentist may also meet the challenge of overcoming a patient’s apprehension to treatment and surgery.

How do dentists mitigate pain?

Dentistry has the unfortunate stigma of being associated with pain. Special considerations are taken because of the high concentration of nerves in and around the teeth. Refined techniques of pain control have reduced the occurrence of pain experienced during and after procedures. Topical anesthetics are used frequently, especially to numb the tissue before a syringe is used to inject a local anesthetic. A local anethetic is sufficient to dull the pain for most dental procedures and minor operations. For more serious operations like the removal of multiple deeply impacted wisdom teeth, sedation may be required. Dentists will often prescribe patients one of many pain killers of varying strengths to control pain they may experience in the days following an operation.

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What is the psychology of pain mitigation?

Interestingly there is some applied psychology involved in dentistry in general, and in the injection process of a local anesthetic in particular. A technique known as “the velvet touch” can be employed. This technique involves speaking to the patient using calm, reassuring tones while injecting local anethetic with a syringe into the gum tissue or maxillofacial area. This technique also involves keeping the instrument tray with the syringe on it behind the patient so that it’s out of view. Care would also be taken to pass the syringe in and out of the mouth such that the patient can’t see it. This is done to prevent any apprehension the patient may feel seeing a large stainless steel syringe before a procedure.

What are the methods of infection control?

The nature of a dentist’s work requires special attention be paid to infection control. A dentist’s office is maintained as a highly sanitary setting. Before beginning a procedure a patient will be required to rinse their mouth with an antimicrobial solution to reduce the number of microorganisms that might enter the patient’s bloodstream in the course of a procedure. This also has the effect of reducing the dentist’s exposure to microorganisms and reduces contamination of equipment operating surfaces. Special care is taken to avoid injecting anesthetic in an infected area so as to avoid causing the spread of infection to surrounding tissue. Antibiotics are often prescribed as treatment for oral infection.

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How do dentists work together?

Dentistry is unique as a medical profession in that dentists typically work either independently or with just one other assistant rather as part of a larger team. However, working relationships still exist between general dentists and dental specialists. Patients are often referred to specialists for treatment after having been diagnosed by their family dentist. For example, a patient visits his family dentist complaining of a toothache. Upon X-raying the patient’s mouth the dentist discovers decay below the enamel that will likely require a root canal and refers his patient to an endodontist.

When working on a patient, a general dentist or specialist is privy to viewing the work the other has done. This allows them the opportunity to make a personal assessment of the quality of work. It’s common for a family dentist to maintain a close network of specialists that he’s worked with over the years so as to refer his clients to somebody whose work he’s grown to trust.

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