Whether dentistry is “worth it” as a career path is something only an individual can decide. If it's what you want to pursue, and you're ready for all the work and effort it takes to get there, it can be a very rewarding option.
Talking to others who are going through dental school or working as dentists may help you decide if it's right for you. It's also important to take a look at the main reasons people like (or don't like) their dental schooling or careers. What bothers someone else may not bother you at all.
The bottom line is that you can't be sure about a career just based off of what other people think of it. But you'll often find information and insight that really resonates with you by considering what others have to say about a school, degree program, career, or anything else in life. If you're not sure about a particular career, especially one that requires a lot of schooling and investment, reading the experiences of others can help.
Here are some of the most important issues to consider.
The First Couple of Years Are the Hardest
Going through dental school takes a lot of work and dedication. Even getting into school can be difficult, with applications to fill out and exams to take. But once you're in school, the real work begins. Getting settled into a routine and adjusted to the workload may take a bit of time, but most people who are in dental school or now working as dentists will say that it's worth it in the end, for a lot of reasons. The main reason, of course, being the value that they bring to their patients.
According to one Reddit user:
“The first 2 years [are hard]. But what makes it worth it all is seeing how happy patients get when you complete a treatment.”
That's a pretty blunt statement, but it also really conveys the struggle of the situation and the value and joy that comes from working through it. Getting into a profession that can help people live better and enjoy their lives more is a feeling unlike anything else. For some people, dentistry can give them that feeling.
Quality of Life Is Extremely Valuable
Another Reddit user talked about their experience with dentistry, saying:
"[I] hated it so much until at my 4th year (when we had to deal with patients)... and this woman (about 55) came up to me crying... She was an edentulous patient (has no teeth), and she said she can't stand it just drinking juices and eating yogurt anymore. She said, ‘I forgot how meat or chicken taste. Can you please help me, son?’"
It's easy to see from that statement that quality of life is extremely valuable, and that dentists can affect that quality of life in profound ways that they may not realize. Being able to eat meat or something else that has to be chewed is an important part of life for a lot of people. When they don't have that anymore, they can struggle to feel joy and really miss out on a lot of things. A dentist who cares about them can make it easier for them to find joy in life again, and appreciate the little things that matter.
You Could Literally Save Lives
The second Reddit user sums up his career-changing experience in a single sentence:
"You're saving someone's life pretty often, so it's worth it."
Saving lives through dentistry can happen in a couple of different ways. First, people like the woman who didn't have teeth may not have much quality of life anymore and that can contribute to serious mental health issues that need to be addressed. Second, dental infections may result in problems for the rest of the body and even life-threatening complications.
By treating both physical health and quality of life issues, a dentist can save and improve lives for their patients. That adds a lot of value to what they do, and helps make it better for them and their patients and community. The idea of saving lives may not really be associated with dentists, but it's very important for anyone considering a career in dentistry to understand that they may truly be saving the lives of some of their patients -- and greatly improving the lives of others.
Some People Like Working with Their Hands
One of the most valuable things about dentistry for some people who work as dentists is the way they get to work with their hands. That can be a popular way to work for a lot of people, and something that they really enjoy. A third Reddit user says:
"It gives me a sense of purpose and I like working with my hands."
If you enjoy being hands-on in your career, and you want a profession where you can be creative, work with your hands, and also help people live better lives, dentistry may be the right choice for you.
Most dentists are also personable and like working with others, and they understand that there are also financial benefits that come with this profession. Dental school is costly, but dentists also make good salaries. They can be well-paid for doing something they love, and performing a service that helps them have a really positive impact. It's hard to argue with the benefits of that, or the value that the dentists and their patients receive.
What Else Should You Know about Dentistry as a Career?
If you're about to become a dentist, or you've been an associate dentist for a while and want to branch out, our guide to starting a practice may help you focus on important areas you'll want to consider.
Then you can think through all the aspects of being a dentist, including the workload and the rewards, so you can make the right choice about starting up your own practice and seeing where that can take you. The more knowledge you have, the more you'll be well-prepared to serve your patients.
Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Property and Casualty are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
Insurance products are offered through Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
Treloar & Heisel, Inc. does not offer career advice. This content is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice. The quoted material does not necessarily reflect the views of Treloar & Heisel, Inc.