Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? There are lots and lots of choices, but being a dentist is a great way to help other people take good care of their teeth.
A dentist is a type of doctor who is trained to take care of your mouth, teeth and gums. A dentist goes to school to learn about how to take good care of teeth, and how to recognize when there might be something wrong. A dental student will practice how to use the tools to clean your teeth, how to fill cavities, and how to identify when you might need braces or other procedures.
To become a dentist you must go to college, and then go to a special dental school. Then you must take and pass a test1. It is hard work to become a dentist, but it can be a good feeling to help people have healthy smiles.
An orthodontist is like a dentist because she is a doctor who knows all about teeth. But an orthodontist is different because she knows how to straighten your teeth using wires called braces. Sometimes when your adult teeth grow in, they do not line up just right. An orthodontist can put braces on your teeth that will cause them to straighten and line up over time.
To become an orthodontist you must go to college, then go to dental school, and then go to a special program to learn about how teeth can move around and how your face and jaw can change shape as you grow2.
A pediatric dentist is another type of dentist, but he or she learns how to take care of kids’ teeth. A pediatric dentist goes to extra schooling to learn all about kids’ teeth and how they change as kids get older. They also learn how to spot problems early on and can send kids to an orthodontist when they are young to help prevent problems.
To become a pediatric dentist you must go to college, then go to dental school, and then go to a special program to learn all about caring for kids’ teeth3.
Sometimes things can happen to your mouth that might require surgery. An oral surgeon is a special type of doctor who knows all about your mouth and teeth. An oral surgeon goes to a special school to learn about performing surgery on your mouth and teeth. Your mouth, face and jaw are very complex and delicate, so these doctors know best when you have to have surgery on or around your mouth.
To become an oral surgeon you must go to college, then you must go to dental school and then you must work in a special program in a hospital4. That’s a lot of school! This will make sure you know everything there is to know about performing surgery on the mouth and teeth.
1 The Princeton Review, "Career: Dentist," web.
2 American Association of Orthodontists, “Orthodontists are the straight-smile experts," web.
3 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, “The Pediatric Dentist," web.
4 American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, “Conditions & Treatments," web.