Essential attributes for a career in dentistry

August 19, 2016



Dentistry is a hugely satisfying profession with tremendous growth potential projected over the next few years but this is not a job for everyone. In addition to the knowledge and expertise necessary to be a dentist, there are also several attributes you need to have to be successful in this profession.

The answers to these few questions will help you determine whether you have the attributes that are essential for a career in dentistry.

Do you have excellent manual dexterity?

The mouth is an extremely small space to work in. The smallest misalignment of a tooth can wreak havoc on a patient’s bite and tooth health. Manual dexterity and superior hand-eye coordination are the most crucial skills that you must possess if you are considering a career as a dentist.

Are you comfortable with close personal interaction?

Most of your time as a dentist will be spent with your face and hands extremely close to your patients’ faces. If you are interested in dentistry but close interactions with other people makes you uncomfortable, you need to explore dental specialties with minimum one-to-one patient contact.

Are you easy to talk to?

Putting patients at ease and making them more comfortable makes them feel like you truly care about them as whole healthy individuals and it’s not just about their mouth. Patients are more relaxed and respond more positively to treatments when a dentist is friendly and easy to talk to.

Are you artistic?

While dentistry may primarily be based on maintaining proper oral health, it is also an aesthetically focused practice. A large part of this profession involves cosmetic treatment to make a smile more beautiful. This requires mastery over techniques and skills unique to this profession.

Are you trustworthy?

The mouth is a very sensitive area. For most patients, the thought of those sharp metal tools-of-the-dentistry-trade being used in their mouth, can invoke a fear so great they often put off dental checkups till it is completely unavoidable. Patients need to trust that you will do your best to take all precautions necessary to make their experience pain free.

Are you a good communicator?

Explaining complex dental procedures and processes in a simple language that patients can understand requires good communication skills. When patients understand what’s going on in their mouth, they are more at ease and more cooperative, making your job so much easier.

Do you have good critical thinking skills?

The structure of the mouth and its small size often makes it challenging to identify the exact source of the pain and therefore to determine the right course of action. Your critical thinking skills will come into play here as you work within all of these restrictions.

Do you love learning?

Participating in continued learning is the key to staying successful as a dentist. New findings in dentistry coupled with huge technological advancements make it necessary to stay abreast with the latest updates in the field. Nobody trusts a dentist who is still using outdated technology.

Are you genuinely concerned about your patient’s welfare?

Yes, there is a lot of money to be made in this career but if that is your only motivation for becoming a dentist, you need to reconsider. A good dentist is genuinely concerned about their patient’s welfare. They communicate with the patient at every step of a procedure, making sure they are comfortable, relaxed and not in too much pain.

If the answer to these questions is a definite yes, then there’s a big chance that dentistry will be for you!

To make sure, why not come on one of our dentistry work shadowing placements overseas?


Chat with us on Facebook or Twitter, or email

Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.