Anyone who has regular dental check-ups is familiar with the terms DDS and DMD. These are the dentists who practice general dentistry. And there are other dental professions as well.
Many of us have worked with dentists for some time. This profession’s best-known members include orthodontists, endodontists, periodontists, prosthodontists, oral surgeons, and pediatric dentists.
But here, we’ll discuss four very different groups of dental professionals we either overlook or have never heard of.
- Overlooked Dental Professions: Oral Pathologist
Let’s begin with a dental specialty that goes on almost entirely behind the scenes. Although many of us have benefited from their skills and knowledge, we still know little about oral pathologists.
This clinical specialty focuses on laboratory-based diagnosis and assessment. It involves oral, maxillofacial, and salivary gland tissue that shows signs of disease.
The following are just a few of the diseases researched and diagnosed by oral pathologists:
- Cleft lip and palate
- Torus mandibularis
- Stafne defect
- Herpes simplex
- Salivary gland and other oral cysts
- Oral cancers
- Sjögren syndrome
- Burning mouth syndrome
If you receive a diagnosis for one of these diseases, especially if it’s early enough to treat successfully, thank an oral pathologist.
- Overlooked Dental Professions: Public Health Dentist
Public health dentists fall into an entirely different category of dental practice. They work in the public sector and usually focus their skills and expertise on population-based dentistry.
These dentists don’t deal with individual patients as general practice dentists do. Instead, they serve entire communities by increasing dental health levels in the population.
These public-serving dentists often have the goal of reducing the number of untreated tooth and other oral concerns. To do this, they combining treatment, education, and policy changes.
As a group, their work covers pockets of rural and urban poverty in the U.S. and impoverished communities abroad.
- The Overlooked Dental Hygienist Profession
Dental hygiene degrees are available at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. Each degree builds on the previous one. Many hygienists work in either general dentistry offices and or dental specialists.
A dental hygienist’s main job is doing a preliminary examination of a patient’s teeth and gums. They also clean the teeth, scrape off built-up tartar, and take radiographs as needed. When the dentist arrives, the hygienist usually assists with that exam.
Dental Hygienist and Similar Professions
Some people trained in dental hygiene choose to teach the subject at dental colleges or community colleges. Others work in product development labs or dental product sales. Some also work in public health services.
- The Overlooked Dental Assistant Profession
To become a dental assistant, someone must have earned a dental assistant certificate. They also should plan to complete the full associate’s degree before long. Associate’s degrees typically take two years to complete.
Dental assisting is an area of dental care that supports dentists and dental hygienists. It includes both administrative office tasks and clinical support, typically in a dental office or clinic.
We have information to share on the dental assistant profession. So if you’re interested in this career, you’ll know more here.
Dental Assistant and Similar Professions
Many successful dental assistants go on to dental or dental hygiene school. Others might switch to other medical or dental-related occupations.
Keep Learning About These Occupations
We’ve only scratched the surface of these often under-recognized dental professions. So if there’s one or more that interest you, search online. Dentistry and related careers offer well-paying and secure employment.
You can find more information on our website’s dental and other careers, so please be encouraged to come back and visit us again.