A dental surgeon or a dentist, is a doctor specializing in oral health who has earned either a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree, Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree, which are essentially the same. The scope of a dentist’s work is much broader today than ever before. Dentists are oral health experts. A dentist diagnoses, treats, and manages your overall oral health.
Typically, BDS/DDS/DMD programs takes 6 years to complete with additional 3-5 years for dental specialties like Orthodontics, Periodontics, Restorative, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Pediatric Dentistry.
A dental education opens up a world of professional opportunities. Private practice, hospital setting, conducting research, teach future dentists or even travel the world with international health and relief organizations.
What Dentists Do
Today’s dentists do more than drill and fill patients’ teeth; they perform a wide variety of procedures and functions. Dentists provide many services, including:
- Health Care: Dentists are an important part of the health care team, frequently making referrals to – and receiving referrals from – physicians, psychologists and other health care professionals.
- Education: Dentists teach patients and the general public about the importance of regular dental exams and good oral hygiene. They inform patients of potential threats to their oral health, such as sugary diet, the use of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, and advise them on how to improve their oral and overall health through good nutrition and stress management.
Some dentists also educate the public through community speaking engagements, newspaper and magazines articles, or television and radio interviews.
- Teaching and Research: Dentists may be full- or part-time faculty members at dental schools involved in teaching and training of dental professionals. They also conduct oral health research in university and corporate settings.
- Continuous Professional Development: With the increasing amount of information being generated by dental research, dentists must continually update their knowledge and skills. The profession offers many opportunities for ongoing learning and professional growth through continuing education workshops, courses and seminars.
- Leadership: Dentists develop and exercise leadership and interpersonal skills. They supervise and manage the care provided by other dental team members, including dental hygienists, dental assistants, laboratory technicians and receptionists. In group practices, dentists work with and may employ and supervise other dentists.
- Artistry: Dentists make creative decisions to produce beauty and order in the mouth. To do so, they must select appropriate procedures and materials and have a fine eye for detail.
- Executive Management: As solo practitioners or partners, dentists usually manage the business and financial aspects of their practices. They acquire and use practice management and investment skills, and develop marketing strategies in order to attract and keep patients. Dentists take advantage of modern computer technology to manage and streamline the business aspects of their practices.
- Community Service: Dentists occasionally use their knowledge to assist in criminal and legal investigations and may even provide evidence in court trials.
- Specialize: Most dental school graduates become general practitioners, providing comprehensive oral health care to a wide variety of patients. However, dental school graduates who enter into a dental specialty program specialize exclusively on a specific form of dental care. Dental specialties like Orthodontics, Periodontics, Restorative, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Pediatric Dentistry
Dentists must be licensed to practice dentistry in Ghana. Regardless of education, licensure/registration or experience, Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians general practitioners must obtain a licence/registration from the Ghana Medical and Dental Council to practice dentistry in Ghana.
The Ghana Medical and Dental Council is the regulatory authority/licensing body that establishes regulations and requirements for the licensure of general practitioners within their jurisdiction. There are fees for licensure and certification that may change annually. To find out more about the certification exam/licensure requirements administered by the Medical and Dental Council click here and contact them directly.