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Dental Degrees: Doctor of Dental Surgery/ Doctor of Dental Medicine

The Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or the Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) diagnose, treat, and prevent problems associated with the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. Most dentists begin a solo practice after completing their professional degree, both of which are entirely equal in respect to education and rights to practice. Beyond general practice, the American Dental Association recognizes the eight speci lties as follows: orthodontics, oral surgery, endodontics, periodontics, pediatric dentistry, prosthodontics, oral pathology, and dental public health.

Personal Characteristics and Future Outlook. Like many health professions, education costs increase every year. Even with state schools where tuition costs decrease, admission remains competitive. However, the diligent student who enjoys working with people, possesses good manual dexterity, and remains committed to dentistry will succeed in attaining his or her goal. Dentists not only enter into a profession with an excellent income, but also they have the opportunity to maintain their own business that employs dental assistants, hygienists, receptionists, bookkeepers, and laboratory technicians. Although dentistry does not require great physical strength, it does involve patient quality-of-care decisions, depth perception, and an equally active personal life as well as a respectable professional life.

The demand for dental services will continue to increase both for dental problems and for preventive care. Geriatric care and cosmetics will be major areas of care in the future. As of 1995, the Department of Labor indicated that there will be a 25% increase in the need for dentists over the next 10 years.

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