Your choice of career is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Becoming a dentist is an option for someone who is interested in science, who likes to work with people and who wants to help them live healthier lives. Although dentistry offers these opportunities, there are also some dangers associated with the job that you should be aware of.
The cost for dental school can be well over $100,000 by the time you graduate. Add this to the cost of undergraduate school, and you can have a bill that approaches a quarter of a million dollars. This amount of debt can be a real challenge, because the loan payments can be more than a mortgage payment. New dentists have a couple of options for practicing: They can build or buy a practice or they can buy into a practice as a partner. Both options are extremely costly and could exceed a million dollars. The danger of getting in over your head is real, and bankruptcy is always a concern. A new dentist could also work for a dental practice management group, which is similar to an HMO in the medical field. The financial risk is much lower, but so is the reward, because the salary is typically less than in a private practice.
Dentists are typically hunched over when working on patients, and such a poor ergonomic position can be hard on the back and neck. Over the course of a 30- to 40-year career, this can create some serious physical issues.
Dentists are exposed to blood and saliva on a regular basis as they work in the mouths of patients, who can carry diseases. Blood is known to carry several infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. Saliva and other fluids in the mouth can carry diseases ranging from the flu or colds to serious diseases such as tuberculosis. There is also the chance of being bitten by children or apprehensive adults. Also, many dentists are exposed to mercury, which is highly toxic, through amalgam fillings.
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