More than 200,000 dentists work in the United States, which means a ratio of about 61 dentists per every 100,000 people, according to the American Dental Association%20in%20the%20U.S.). The profession definitely has a bright side that attracts all these people. Here are some stories from dentists about why they love their jobs or why, if they had to choose a profession all over again, they'd still choose dentistry.
1. Creating I-Do Worthy Smiles
Justin Cook, DDS, of Ogden, Utah, once got to know a policeman and his girlfriend while he was working on a full smile rehabilitation for the policeman. He was honored when they invited him to his wedding, and he got to rejoice in the smile as well as the wedding vows.
2. Making Dreams Come True
For Russell Schafer, DDS, of Gretna, Louisiana, building relationships with patients brings joy. One example is a denture patient who he began treating while in his first year at Louisiana State University Dental School. “Ms. C was a sharp older woman who loved to smoke and had the voice to prove it. She hated the way her teeth looked. She had difficulty finding a dentist who would remove her bad teeth and give her a denture that she wanted," he shares. He was able to take out her old teeth and place a healing denture in her mouth.
"I remember when I saw her the next morning after surgery to check on her. I was thrilled about how much she loved her new dentures. She felt that she could finally smile again."
After that, summer started, and Schafer and his wife took a vacation. While on vacation, he found out that Ms. C. had died only two weeks after receiving her dentures. He was devastated, but then he took solace in knowing that she passed away with the smile she wanted.
“I attended her wake, and although I had only known this woman for a month or two, I still cried as if I lost a good friend. The reason I do dentistry is the same reason that I cried at Ms. C's passing. I can't imagine too many other jobs where I can literally give people smiles and make friends along the way," Schafer says.
3. Channeling the Inner Nerd
Dr. Jennifer Wohlers, a family dentist, initially fell in love with dentistry by shadowing her long - term family dentist. Today, she enjoys continuing to learn and expanding her skills and knowledge. "Being a nerd at heart, I love going to continuing dental education courses to better myself for the sake of my patients."
4. Taking On Challenges
Gaining better teeth and a beautiful smile can change lives for the better. Being part of that transformation brings joy. Stefanie Shore, DDS, who has done restorative and esthetic dentistry in California since 2004, shares this story.
“About six months ago, I suggested to my assistant, Alexis, that we could straighten her crooked front two teeth by placing two veneers on them. In a way, we could make over her smile by providing ‘instant orthodontics’ to her central incisors. After careful consideration and weighing the risks, benefits, and alternatives of this treatment, Alexis decided to go for it! In less than two hours, we gave her straighter teeth (in the form of temporary veneers), and in a few weeks, we will bond in her permanent veneers, giving her a beautiful, straight, and mature smile.”
5. Creating Fresh Starts
Many dentists are reluctant to share stories about their patients because of confidentiality concerns. However, the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry shares a story anonymously about a dentist who was able to help a woman move on after being violently abused.
"Cynthia" had been abused for five years before she gained the courage to leave her abuser. Once she left, however, she was still left with the effects of the abuse, including some damaged and missing teeth. As a public speaker, the missing teeth affected her diction and appearance. She also felt that others treated her differently.
Once the dentist was able to restore her smile, her confidence soared. She was able to begin a new life and pursue a master's degree. The dentist who helped her felt honored to take part in helping her to move forward after domestic violence.
6. Finding Real Balance
Dr. Saranya Viyapon practices dentistry in partnership with her husband in Texas. For her, one attraction is being able to provide valuable healthcare services while still maintaining a regular schedule.
"I’m originally from Thailand, and we believe in taking care of people, so I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field. I like my schedule to be 9 to 5, but as a doctor, you need to be on call. I knew that wasn’t going to be a good fit for me, so I decided to study dentistry."
7. Creating a Work Family
Dr. Eric Huynh, who owns two dental practices with his wife, finds joy in the relationships with staff and patients.
"I talk a lot, and I love my patients. Most of them have been with me since 1997 when I graduated and was just starting out. We have three or four generations working in my office, and everyone feels like family. It doesn’t feel like work anymore. It’s really fun. We’re very blessed. People come here, and they stay here. My staff has been with me for 20 years. We’re growing old together."
Huynh also met his wife, Viyapon, on the job. She came in for an interview but was out of Huynh's budget. The two became friends, eventually married, and now work together.
8. Being a Part of the Family
Pascal Dalseth, DDS, who is in private practice in Minnesota, enjoys being able to provide care to multiple generations within the same family. "It is nice to hear stories from grandparents and parents about their children as we watch them grow."
9. Finding Adventure Every Day
"Can you think of a better way to spend every day than to work with fun people and have a plethora of interesting people stop by to visit you, too?" asks Michael Sinkin, DDS.
"Dentistry for me is a wonderfully rewarding profession, and each day is a new adventure. For those seeking a career, my advice is to find something that gives you passion; the rest will just fall into place. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else."
Then he adds, "Next Halloween, stop by the office, and you’ll see the entire staff in costume … just for fun."
From changing lives to having fun, there are many reasons to love dentistry. What are yours? Tell your story on Instagram and be sure to tag @MyBerxi.