Dentistry is a branch of medicine that consists of the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity, commonly in the dentition but also the oral mucosa, and of adjacent and related structures and tissues, particularly in the maxillofacial (jaw and facial) area. Although primarily associated with teeth among the general public, the field of dentistry or dental medicine is not limited to teeth but includes other aspects of the craniofacial complex including the temperomandibular and other supporting structures.
A dentist, also known as a dental surgeon, is a surgeon who specializes in dentistry, the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity. The dentist’s supporting team aids in providing oral health services. The dental team includes dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and in some states, dental therapists.
Dental technology is the technical side of dentistry. Dental technicians make appliances to improve patients’ appearance, speech, or ability to chew.
Dental technology teaches you how to:
Design and construct artificial teeth and removable orthodontic appliances
Create appliances to meet each patient’s needs
Make appliances from a wide range of materials including gold, porcelain, and acrylic
Work with a high level of responsibility and accuracy, as the product you make can affect a person’s health and appearance
Visualise in 3D perspective and develop an eye for detail
A dental technologist (dental laboratory technician) is a member of the dental team who, upon prescription from a dental clinician, constructs custom made restorative and dental appliances.
Scope of Dentistry and Dental Technology
Dentistry, a lucrative profession is concerned with all health problems afflicting the mouth, teeth, gums and other hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity. It is accepted as a professional field which includes dental care and correction. Dentists help people maintain their health and appearance. Dentistry is changing rapidly, creating many opportunities and challenges. To an extent, it includes cosmetology where corrective treatment is involved. Dentists improve patients’ appearance by using a wide variety of cosmetic dental procedures. These days, dentists are assuming very important roles in the whole healthcare system. With an increasing awareness of the importance of oral health and the introduction of new fields like periodontics (care of gums and the diseases that might afflict them), oral pathology (diagnosis for diseases that affect the mouth ) and orthodontics (straightening and aligning teeth and jaws) have all enhanced the scope of this field. Dental surgeons or dentists look after teeth by filling, crowning, scaling. They extract teeth and design and fill artificial dentures. They undertake surgically on the jaw, and some specialized orthodontists mainly for children. The preventive aspects of dentistry are gaining in importance.
Skills and Competencies needed to be successful in Dentistry
Normal or corrected visual acuity sufficient for observation of oral conditions and for patient assessment
High level of hand-eye coordination necessary for extremely fine motor control
Ability to visually differentiate the color spectrum for tissue conditions and changes
Ability to discern subtle changes in radiographic density
Ability to clearly see the patient’s teeth from a 20-inch distance
Correctable hearing in at least one ear and ability to develop reasonable skills of percussion and auscultation
Gross and fine motor skills sufficient to provide safe and effective patient care
Possession of adequate sensory perception in hands and fingers in order to detect and remove tooth deposits
Full manual dexterity including the functioning of both arms, both wrists, both hands and all fingers.
Tactile ability sufficient for the use of small instruments with control sufficient for instrumentation
Ability to manipulate clinical and laboratory instruments and syringes with sufficient fine motor control to operate in a safe manner to avoid patient injury
Physical Strength and Endurance
Motor skills sufficient to render clinical dental hygiene treatment
Physical strength to move themselves (by walker, cane or crutches if necessary) to a position enabling them to provide dental care
Physical strength to assist a patient in transferring themselves to and from a dental chair
Physical strength needed to perform CPR for an extended period of time
Ability to remain continuously on task for several hours while sitting, standing or moving
Abilities sufficient for effective interaction with others in spoken and written English
Ability to accurately transfer gathered data into a patient record
Ability to read and understand technical and professional materials
Ability to demonstrate sensitivity, confidentiality and respect when speaking with patients, peers, faculty and staff
Intellectual, Conceptual and Cognitive Skills
Ability to distinguish normal from abnormal
Ability to comprehend, reason, integrate, analyze, evaluate and problem solve
Ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills
Ability to work independently
Ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships
Professional Attitude and Demeanor
Ability to present professional appearance
Ability to implement measures to maintain own physical and mental health and emotional stability
Emotional and mental health necessary to effectively apply knowledge and exercise appropriate judgment
Ability to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability
Ability to practice honest and ethical behavior and accountability
Ability to self-evaluate
Ability to demonstrate respect for individuals of diverse ethnic backgrounds, religion and/or sexual orientation
Manual Dexterity Skills
Especially with regard to the field of dentistry, manual dexterity is vitally important to operating a safe, productive and profitable practice. If an individual does not have good dexterity, he or she may want to consider a career change. Dentists work in close proximity to the patient and need to utilize specified dental tools, so safety is of the utmost concern. Additionally, if the dentist is not able to manually perform the various reconstructive and surgical procedures required, he or she won’t be successful in the practice.
Spatial Judgment & Memory Skills
In order to be successful in the dental practice, a dentist should have excellent spatial judgment. For example, he or she is dealing with a small area of the body and needs to be able to translate cognitive ability to the actual physical environment of the mouth. Additionally, memory skills are vital as well. Being able to meet with the patient and see the actual dental situation, and then recall with excellent memory skills while evaluating the actual plan, is vital.
Career Opportunities for Dentists
Entry and Mid-Level Jobs
Dental Laboratory Technicians
Advanced / Doctorate Level
General Dentist (DDS)
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Admission Requirements for the study of Dentistry in Nigeria
The O’level subject combination and requirements needed to study Dentistry And Dental Technology;
Five SSCE credit passes in English language, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics.
In UTME, please note that English Language is Compulsory for this course. Therefore, the three (3) other JAMB UTME subject combination needed to study Dentistry And Dental Surgery under the Faculty of Medical, Pharmaceutical & Health Sciences in the above Universities include;
» Chemistry, Biology and one Science subject.
SOME INSTITUTIONS WHERE YOU CAN STUDY DENTISTRY AND DENTAL TECHNOLOGY
• Bayero University Kano • Lagos State University • Obafemi Awolowo University • University of Benin • University of Calabar • University of Ibadan • University of Jos • University of Lagos • University of Maiduguri • University of Nigeria • University of Port-Harcourt