In Quebec, the deadline to apply to CEGEP and university as well as other post-secondary programs is approaching fast. Students must make difficult decisions regarding their future and what academic path they wish to pursue. As these future professionals contemplate their choices, here is a brief overview of some of the fascinating career options in the field of dentistry.
Dentistry professions: a rewarding field of study!
Dentistry is a branch of medicine that deals with the prevention and treatment of oral diseases. In addition to treating the teeth and gums, it also deals with conditions affecting supporting structures such as the jaw, and the soft tissues of the mouth. Working in the dentistry field is a very rewarding career. Regardless of the dentistry profession you choose, you will contribute to providing the public with an essential health service.
What are some of the main dentistry professions?
- Dental hygienist
- Dental assistant
- Dental secretary
Below, we will explain these dentistry professions in more detail, including job overview, requirements, and potential salaries.
The dentistry profession has evolved considerably. Today, dentists do more than simply clean and repair teeth. In fact, dentists now perform a variety of procedures and treatments, including reconstruction, restoration, correction, and surgery.
Additionally, dentists participate in educating their patients and the public on prevention and raise awareness about oral health issues.
Most dentists work in private practice. But dentists may also find employment with public institutions such as hospitals and prisons, or with public health authorities at the municipal, provincial, or federal level. Because dentists are most often self-employed and work flexible hours, they enjoy a good work-life balance.
Working as a dentist requires excellent manual dexterity, an aptitude for science, the ability to concentrate for long periods of time, and good people skills.
To practise as a dentist in Canada, you must complete the Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) degree from an accredited dental school. This university degree typically involves four or five years of study and admission can be quite competitive. Standard admission criteria include:
- Completion of a 120-credit bachelor’s program, or for Quebec students a 90-credit bachelor’s program and a Diploma of Collegial Studies (DSC). Priority may be given to students with a degree in the pure sciences.
- Students must also take the Dental Aptitude Test before applying.
Dentists must also be a member of a professional order to practise.
Average salary: $132,000 per year.
The dental hygienist
The dental hygienist can also work in a variety of settings. These include private practice, public health, hospitals, care homes, and others. Overall, the dental hygienist focuses on providing personalized care to patients and preventing oral diseases. Some daily tasks include: assessing a patient’s oral health, teeth cleaning and polishing, teeth whitening, taking X-rays, and various other oral health treatments and procedures.
Working as a dental hygienist also requires manual dexterity, an aptitude for science, and good people skills.
To practise in Quebec, a dental hygienist must be a member of an order and complete a three-year CEGEP diploma. Criteria for admission to the Dental Hygiene CEGEP programs generally include:
- A high school diploma
- Certain Grade 11 science courses such as chemistry
hygienist must also be a member of a professional order to practice.
Average salary: $35 per hour
The dental assistant
Dental assistants assist dentists and hygienists during patient exams and treatments. They also perform clerical work. Some task may include: prepping patients for exams, preparing, maintaining and sterilizing instruments, taking and developing X-rays, scheduling appointments, invoicing, and more.
To become a dental assistant, you must complete an eight-month or one-year professional course. In Quebec, a Diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) is required to practice.
Average salary: $20 per hour.
The dental secretary
Dental secretaries work in dentist offices and perform clerical duties. These include filing patient charts, scheduling appointments, handling incoming mail among others. Typically, dental secretaries must know dental terminology and insurance and billing procedures.
To work as a dental secretary, you will need to complete a six-week training to learn field-specific practices and terminology. Admission criteria for the course:
- High school diploma or equivalent
Average salary: $20 per hour
Dentistry professions provide high earning potential, a good work-life balance, and a stimulating work environment. As you contemplate your future, remember to schedule regular cleanings with your dentist and brush and floss daily. To make an appointment with our clinic, contact us today.