You've either decided you want to go into dentistry or you're currently in dental school considering specializing in one of the many specialties that comprise the field of dentistry. Choosing a dental specialty is a significant decision that can greatly impact your career path and professional satisfaction. Keep reading for 10 tips to help you make an informed choice.
1. What areas are there available for me to specialize in Dentistry?
- Oral Surgery
- Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedists
- Pedodontics (Pediatrics)
- Dental Public Health
- Oral Pathology
- Dental Anesthesiology
- Oral Medicine
- Orofacial Pain
- Oral Radiology
Learn about the different dental specialties available. Research the scope of practice, procedures involved, patient demographics, and job opportunities for each specialty. You can also be a general dentist with a focus on cosmetic dentistry, pediatric dentistry, or implantology. Knowing the outlook of the fields will give you a better understanding of what each specialty entails.
2. Clinical Exposure
Gain exposure to different specialties through observation, shadowing, or internships. Spending time with specialists in various fields can give you a firsthand experience of their work and help you decide if it aligns with your interests. While in dental school, pay attention to what procedures you enjoy doing or are really good at. Maybe you enjoy doing root canal therapy or you find you are really good with behavior management when it comes to pediatric patients. These are things to pay attention to--if you do not enjoy that one thing you are trying to specialize in and are just doing it for the money--remaining passionate and committed throughout residency will be hard.
3. Lifestyle Considerations
Consider the lifestyle you desire. Some specialties may involve more demanding schedules, while others offer a better work-life balance. Think about how the specialty's demands align with your personal and family goals.
4. Seek Mentorship
Seek guidance from practicing specialists or experienced mentors. They can provide insights into the daily responsibilities, challenges, and rewards of their respective specialties. Ask them about the pros and cons of their specialty. Ask
5. Earning Potential
While financial considerations shouldn't be the sole factor, it's important to understand the earning potential and reimbursement rates associated with different specialties. According to the 2022 ADA Dental Practice Report, these were some of the reported averages net incomes for some of the specialties in private practice:
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: $479,550
- Orthodontists and Dentofacial Orthopedists: $284,060
- Pediatric Dentists: $307,820
- Periodontists: $355,400
6. Personal Values
Consider how the values and principles of a particular specialty align with your own. Some specialties might involve working with specific patient populations or addressing particular oral health needs. For instance, in pediatric dentistry, you may work with a vulnerable population in patients who have SHCN (Special Health Care Needs).
7. Educational Commitment
This may be one of the top contenders when it comes to deciding whether or not to specialize. Different specialties require varying levels of postgraduate education and training. Consider the length of time and resources required to complete the necessary training for your chosen specialty. You may also want to decide if you want to go to a school based program or hospital based program depending on the specialty. Not only is it a time commitment but it is also a financial commitment.
Attend dental conferences, seminars, and events to network with professionals from various specialties. This can help you gain insights and build connections that might influence your decision.
9. Market Demand
Research the demand for specific specialties in your region. Some areas might have a greater need for certain specialists, which could impact your job prospects.
10. Research your specialty of interest
Last but not least, learn about the different dental specialties available. Research the scope of practice, procedures involved, patient demographics, and job opportunities for each specialty. Join some of the speciality organizations on your dental school campus or on the national level. Get involved-this is the best way to see if something is a good fit for you. This will give you a better understanding of what each specialty entails.
Take your time to explore your options and gather as much information as possible before committing to a dental specialty. It's a significant choice that can lead to a rewarding and fulfilling career