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Your smile plays a big role in how you communicate. Smiles express a range of emotions, from joy to forgiveness to sarcasm. A dentist gives people a clean and confident smile so they can connect with others.
What does it take to become a dentist? TIME for Kids spoke to two professionals to find out.
Meet the Dentists
Annelise Hardin was drawn to dentistry by the flexible schedule and the chance to work with her hands. She went to dental school in North Carolina, and has practiced pediatric dentistry there for more than 15 years.COURTESY ANNELISE HARDIN
John DeLorme was a biology major in college. A close friend and mentor encouraged him to go to dental school. There, he fell in love with pediatric dentistry. He has been a dentist in Southern California for more than 25 years.COURTESY JOHN DELORME
Five Fast Facts
Want to be a dentist? Here are some things Doctors Hardin and DeLorme say it’s important for you to know:
There are many kinds of dentists. Most dentists are general, or family, dentists, but some focus on one type of care. For example, pediatric dentists work only with kids. Oral surgeons do surgery on the mouth, jaw, and face.
Dentists spend a lot of time in school. They have four years of college and three to four years of dental school. If you pursue a specialty, you must also complete a residency , which typically lasts two to four years.COURTESY ANNELISE HARDIN
It’s a physically demanding job. Dentists are up and down all day. In school, they learn how to lean over and work properly so they don’t hurt their neck, back, and wrists. “Your body needs to be in shape in order for you not to burn out physically or get injured,” DeLorme says.COURTESY JOHN DELORME
Dentists are detail-oriented. Many dentists will tell you they are perfectionists. “We are working with very small measurements,” Hardin says. “Being precise is important.”
Dentists work to educate their patients. A dentist’s job is first to prevent, and then to treat. “Every patient is different and has different risk factors,” DeLorme says. “My job is to teach my patients what their risk factors are so they can make good decisions for themselves and do their best to prevent cavities.”