Cosmetic dentistry careers

Cosmetic dentistry encompasses all procedures which improve the look of the smile or the teeth. A smile improvement, or smile makeover as it is also known, can have considerable benefits for an individual's self-esteem and self-confidence and may even increase his or her chances of  career success. Television shows such as Embarassing Bodies and Extreme Makeover have increased public awareness of cosmetic procedures and their accessibility. The 'Hollywood Smile' is no longer something that is only available to celebrities and the opportunity to perform cosmetic dental procedures in general and private practice is increasing.

Popular cosmetic dental procedures include teeth whitening, teeth straightening, bonding and tooth reshaping, though other procedures such as gum contouring, the fitting of veneers, non-surgical facelifts and the replacement of missing teeth using cosmetic dentures, implants and dental bridges are increasingly being offered. There is also a trend towards composite white fillings, rather then amalgam fillings, for their superior aesthetic qualities.

The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, formed in 2003 by a group of dental professionals working in the field of cosmetic dentistry, is a dynamic group of dentists, laboratory technicians, practice managers, hygienists, assistants and therapists who actively share experience, knowledge and best practice. There is no specific specialist qualifications for cosmetic dentistry and no specialist register for those practicing it, but as techniques and public expectations are constantly evolving, it is essential that practitioners keep up-to-date with current practices.

Dental  training in the UK normally takes five years, although there are also four year accelerated graduate-entry degree programmes. Typically A-level grades of AAA to ABB are required for undergraduate entry, normally to include Biology and Chemistry. Following dental training, dentists are qualified to provide the majority of cosmetic procedures including and further specialisation in the fields of prosthodontics and orthodontics enables dentists to offer and carry out a wider range of cosmetic dentistry procedures.

Skills required for a career as a cosmetic dentist include an excellent aesthetic eye and an understanding and knowledge of the latest technological advancements in Cosmetic Dentistry. They must have excellent interpersonal skills and as many Cosmetic Dentists own their own practice, they must have a good business sense and management skills.

Dental technicians also have a role to play in cosmetic dentistry. They work in labs and make or repair dental appliances such as bridges, braces, crowns, inlays and dentures. Technicians either learn their craft on the job, or attend formal training. The work is delicate and requires considerable attention to detail.

Dental nurses and hygienists also play their part in cosmetic dentistry and those interested in working in the cosmetic dentistry field, may also consider training for these positions.

As the area of costmetic dentistry expands, so does the demand for skilled dentists and other dental professionals. Opportunities are expanding and as the cosmetic dentistry guide explains, careers in the area can provide rewarding opportunities for those interested in entering the dental profession.

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