Dentists learn about more than what it takes to give a simple scale and clean. In Canada, as in many countries, becoming a dentist requires years of study that is finished with a graduation from a dental degree program that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Following the graduation is a three-part test from the National Dental Examining Board that the student must pass for certification.
This means that a person practicing dentistry in Canada is very well trained and has been tested and approved to be qualified for all aspects of general dentistry. If the dentist has not been to one of the ten accredited programs, then he or she must finish a degree completion program or an equivalency process to show that their education was sufficient and then take the certification examinations. This is generally the path that dentists who were trained in other countries but wish to work in Canada choose.
Besides this process for gaining the qualifications to work in general dentistry in Canada, in order to specialize, the dentist must also have special training. To be approved as a specialist, the dentist must be trained in one particular specialty and then examined by the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. The recognized specialties that a dentist may train and be licensed to provide include –
- dental public health
- oral and maxillofacial radiology
- oral and maxillofacial surgery
- oral medicine and oral pathology
- pediatric dentistry
- periodontics, and
Each specialization has its own training process and a specified exam at the end. Approved dental schools that have been accredited include –
- the University of Toronto
- McGill University, Montréal
- Université de Montréal
- Dalhousie University, Halifax
- the University of Alberta, Edmonton
- the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
- the University of British Columbia, Vancouver
- the University of Western Ontario, London
- the University of Saskatchewan, and
- Université Laval, Québec
Any of these institutions of higher education are able to provide adequate education through their dental degree programs to ensure quality dentistry in Canada. Each province in Canada also has a Dental Regulatory Authority that may have additional requirements for local licensing and guidelines related to dentures and other cosmetic dental implant procedures.
For example, a dentist in Calgary would land under the jurisdiction of the Alberta Dental Association and College. This regulation board ensures that any dentist practicing in Calgary must provide services in a safe, professional, and ethical manner. The association is also in place to help inform residents of Alberta about dental and overall health, to educate dental patients about their rights and what to expect from their dentist, and cosmetic dental options available such as immediate dentures.
Students interested in becoming a dentist should understand what is involved and only undertake study if they are prepared to work hard to be successful. The process of education and examination can take several years; from four to five years or longer to complete dental school. Tuition fees can also be high and the student may need to rely on loans to get through.
In the end, the student who passes the examinations and becomes licensed will then have to spend years building up his or her experience and finding a loyal customer base. However, if the student is willing to put in the hard work, financial investment, and time, it can be a highly rewarding career choice. The dentist can quickly make an income to allow for payback of the loan money required to get his or her education. The better a dentist is, the more likely they are to build a large customer base resulting from a large range of procedures ranging from teeth whitening to immediate dentures.
The Bottom Line
Beyond financial advantages, the job can be rewarding to those who love to work with people and to help them. Dentistry focuses on oral health, but oral health is also directly related to overall health.
The effects that a good dentist can have on a person can be felt in more than just the patient’s teeth. A dentist can also help his or her patients’ self-esteem by helping to perfect their smiles. This can happen in many different ways, from teaching good oral health to kids, through to surgical procedures including dental implants or installing dentures.