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 Beginning Your Career as a Dental Professional

 
The future looks bright for the profession of dentistry. New information about the relationship of oral health to overall health makes dentistry an important health profession for the future. And a substantial number of dentists are projected to retire in the next twenty years, and new dental professionals will be needed in private practice, as teachers and researchers, and in public health dentistry.

As a dentist, or one of the valued members of the dental team: dental hygienist, dental assistant or dental laboratory technician, dentistry can offer you a career with flexibility, good earning potential, and a chance to make a difference in people's lives. If you’re a student that wants to begin your dentistry career in Arizona, connect with us, the Arizona Dental Association, we’ll be happy to send you a career packet, jammed with helpful tips and advice from the American Dental Association (ADA).

The best way to learn more about a career in dentistry is to talk to your dentist. She or he should be able to answer most of your questions about the profession, education, and lifestyle. You may even ask if she or he will mind you observing or “shadowing” them when they aren’t quite as busy. 



Dentist: Doctors of Oral Health

 

Dentists help people maintain and improve their oral health, quality of life and appearance. Dentists receive a great deal of personal satisfaction by providing an essential community health service, by educating future dentists and by doing valuable research. Dentists treat everyone—the healthy, the ill, the young, the elderly, the disadvantaged and those with special needs.
  • phoenix dentistBalanced Lifestyle: Dentistry is an appealing career because it offers the flexibility to balance a professional life and personal goals.
  • Self-Employment: Dentistry affords the opportunity to be one's own boss and own a dental practice. As independent entrepreneurs, dentists set and maintain their own regular hours.
  • Earning Potential/Demand: A dentist's average income is in the highest 5% of U.S family income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The demand for dental care is projected to grow. As baby boomers age, they will continue to need preventive services and many will require maintenance on existing dental work.
  • Status and Prestige: Dentists are socially conscious, talented, civic-minded professionals who work with community leaders and other health professionals to promote oral health care. Dentistry has a distinguished history of leadership in improving world health.
  • Creativity: As artists, dentists combine keen visual memory, excellent judgment of space and shape and a high degree of manual dexterity in the delivery of patient services. Computer applications complement scientific knowledge and technical skills.
  • Variety: Dentistry is changing rapidly, creating many opportunities and challenges. Dentists treat a diverse group of patients in a variety of settings using a variety of techniques and procedures.

Arizona Dental Schools

 

Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, Mesa

(480) 219-6000
Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) and Certificate of Public Health
www.atsu.edu


Midwestern University, Phoenix

(623) 572-3800
Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)
www.midwestern.edu


Pre-Dental Programs:

Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe
(480) 965-9011
Pre Dental
www.asu.edu


University of Arizona (U of A), Tucson

(520) 626-7241
Pre Dental
www.arizona.edu


Northern Arizona University (NAU), Flagstaff

Pre Dental, Department of Biology and Chemistry
(928) 523-5122
www.dh.nau.edu/

WICHE is the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education and provides tuition funds for dental students pursuing health care related education, including dental education. Students who are selected to receive WICHE funds get $19,900 per year to help offset their dental education. In return, they must practice one year in Arizona for each year of support. If a WICHE graduate chooses to practice in an underserved area they receive two for one credit. Currently there are 51 slots available to Arizona dental students. For information on the WICHE program, contact the Arizona Board of Regents at (602) 229-2500.



flagstaff lab tech

Laboratory Technician

 

Since each dental patient's specific needs are different, the duties of a dental laboratory technician are comprehensive and varied. Although dental technicians seldom work directly with patients, except under the direction of a licensed dentist, they are valuable members of the dental care team. They work directly with dentists by following detailed written instructions and using impressions (molds) of the patient’s teeth or oral soft tissues to create:
  • Full dentures for patients who are missing all of their teeth;
  • Removable partial dentures or fixed bridges for patients who are missing only one or a few teeth;
  • Crowns, which are caps for teeth that are designed to restore their original size and shape;
  • Veneers, that enhance the esthetics and function of the patient; and
  • Orthodontic appliances and splints to help straighten and protect teeth.
Dental technicians work with a variety of materials in replacing damaged or missing tooth structure. These include waxes, plastics, precious and non-precious alloys, stainless steel, a variety of porcelains and composites or polymer glass combinations.

Pima Community College, Tucson

(520) 206-4500
www.pima.edu



tucson hygienists

Dental Hygienist

 

A career as a dental hygienist offers a wide range of challenges. In the dental office, the dentist and the dental hygienist work together to meet the oral health needs of patients. Since each state has its own specific regulations regarding their responsibilities, the range of services performed by hygienists varies from state to state. Some of the services provided by dental hygienists may include:
  • Patient screening procedures; such as assessment of oral health conditions review of the health history, oral cancer screening, head and neck inspection, dental charting and taking blood pressure and pulse;
  • Taking and developing dental radiographs (x-rays);
  • Removing calculus and plaque (hard and soft deposits) from all surfaces of the teeth;
  • Applying preventive materials to the teeth (e.g. sealants and fluorides);
  • Teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health; (e.g., toothbrushing, flossing and nutritional counseling);
  • Counseling patients regarding good nutrition and its impact on oral health;
  • Making impressions of patients' teeth for study casts (models of teeth used by dentists to evaluate patient treatment needs); and
  • Performing documentation and office management activities.

 

Mesa Community College, Mesa
(480) 461-7000
www.mc.maricopa.edu

Mohave County Community College, Bullhead City
(928) 757-4331
www.mohave.edu

Northern Arizona University (NAU), Flagstaff
(928) 523-9011
www.nau.edu

Phoenix College Dental School, Phoenix
(602) 285-7500
www.pc.maricopa.edu

Pima Community College, Tucson
(520) 206-4500
www.pima.edu

Rio Salado Community College, Phoenix
(480) 517-8000
www.rio.maricopa.edu



Dental Assistant

 

arizona dental assistantThe duties of a dental assistant are among the most comprehensive and varied in the dental office. The dental assistant performs many tasks requiring both interpersonal and technical skills. Although state regulations vary, some specific tasks dental assistants may perform include:
  • Assisting the dentist during a variety of treatment procedures;
  • Taking and developing dental radiographs (x-rays);
  • Asking about the patient’s medical history and taking blood pressure and pulse;
  • Serving as an infection control officer, developing infection control protocol and preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment;
  • Helping patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatment;
  • Providing patients with instructions for oral care following surgery or other dental treatment procedures, such as the placement of a restoration (filling);
  • Teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health; (e.g., toothbrushing, flossing and nutritional counseling);
  • Performing office management tasks that often require the use of a personal computer;
  • Communicating with patients and suppliers (e.g., scheduling appointments, answering the telephone, billing and ordering supplies); and
  • Assisting with and helping to provide direct patient care in all dental specialties, including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and oral surgery.


AzDA Online Clinical Dental Assisting Program
Download information here!

Mesa Community College, Mesa 
(480) 461-7000
www.mc.maricopa.edu 

Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff 
(928) 523-2261
www.home.nau.edu

Phoenix College Dental School, Phoenix 
(602) 285-7500
www.pc.maricopa.edu

Pima Community College, Tucson 
(520) 206-4500
www.pima.edu 

Rio Salado Community College, Phoenix

(480) 517-8000
www.riosalado.edu


X-Ray Certification 
Click here to review the information