A career in the health industry can be very rewarding. Knowing that everyday you are improving the lives of those around you makes going to work each day that much more enjoyable.

If you’re doing well in school and are considering a job in a medical field, you may want to consider dentistry. Dentists work to diagnose, prevent and treat conditions in the mouth, mostly working with teeth. There are a large number of problems people have in their oral cavity, but some of the common things they do are helping customers with: filling in dental cavities, periodontal diseases, pathologies of the jaw, fixing cracked or impacted teeth and detecting and treating oral cancer.

Many dental surgeons specialize in certain areas. Some dentists focus on denture and denture repair, while others specialize in building crowns and bridges for people with missing teeth. Some prefer doing general dental and teeth whitening, while others specialize in treating those with oral cancer.

There are a great variety of options for people in the field and the work can be quite varied. With such a huge range of problems to treat and the common need for emergency dental when people take a nasty hit to the jaw, a day in the life of a dentist is never dull!

We spoke with Dorai, a renowned denture fitment expert and dentist from Chandler Road Family Dental in Boronia, Melbourne. This particular clinic has built a reputation over the years for outstanding service, not just with dentures and denture repair, but also with general dentistry and many of the numerous other dental services they offer at their Boronia clinic. Here is what he had to say on becoming a dental surgeon:

Hi Dorai, thanks for talking with us today. Firstly, was it difficult for you getting into dentistry, and what recommendations would you give to students considering following a similar path?

Well yes, it’s not easy. Dentistry takes a lot of focus and study, as much as any other medical degrees I would say. Any student currently studying it will tell you, it takes a lot of work. If you’re interested in becoming a dentist you’ll have to do well in school and learn good habits of studying hard and paying attention during class.

It’s a serious job working on people’s teeth and things can go very wrong if we aren’t paying close attention at all times, so being able to concentrate on the task at hand is extremely important.

How did you decide what areas of dentistry to specialize in?

Most university graduates will get a job at a general practice after finishing their degree. From there they will learn about, and get more practice on many of the various types of dentistry. Some choose to specialize in certain areas, as I did with dentures and denture repair, while others will stick to general work and become jacks of all dental trades, so-to-speak.

Often dentists who specialize in any particular area will still do other forms of dentistry, they just have a particular area they work with regularly, so the standard of their work may be higher. For example at the clinic I work in back in Boronia, we don’t only work with denture patients, we still take on almost all forms of dental work except with those who require extremely specialized services such as those who have severe jaw deformation after traumatic impact or those with severe oral cancers.

Wow, that’s a little bleak. Does it ever get depressing constantly working with patients who have problems?

Don’t get me wrong; it has its bad days and its good. Overall however I find it enjoyable helping others and it’s quite fulfilling too. There is a rumour going around that dentists commit suicide at a higher rate than any occupation, but I’m sure that’s a myth. There are a number of some scientific journals discussing how that just isn’t true. I know and work with a lot of others in the same field as myself and all of them are very happy in their professional lives. I’m lucky too I guess, the area around where I work in Boronia and Ferntree Gully in Melbourne is fairly quiet, so we don’t get a great deal of overly traumatic dental emergencies.

Okay so it’s probably about time we finished things up for the day. One last question before we tie things up; what’s your favourite things about your work?

That’s an easy one. The look on people’s faces after reconstructive dentistry, teeth whitening or after I’ve built them a perfectly fitting pair of dentures. A small change to someone’s teeth can make a big change to their self esteem and I’m always so happy when I see an overjoyed customer reveling in their new smile.

Thanks Dorai, hopefully your advice and stories will inspire some future generations of dentists to study harder.

If you would like to become a dental surgeon, speak with your student adviser about what is involved and study hard so that you can get into the required university course. You can also subscribe to the Chandler Road Family Dental Blog to keep up to date with the latest industry information and dental tips. If dentistry is in your future, we wish you all the best with your studies and your future career!