I work in a small health centre, where I’m often the only dentist on shift. I’m responsible for everything related to treatment of the patients. I’m usually assisted by two dental hygienists, who take care of many office tasks, maintain the equipment, protect the spaces against infections and assist in dental procedures. In addition, I have a private reception in middle-sized dental centre in the evenings.
In the morning, work in the health centre starts at 7:30. I go through the plan for the day and discuss possible special arrangements with the nurse.
At 8:00 comes the first patient. Patients might come for a procedure agreed on beforehand, for example for filling, tooth extraction, dental check, scaling, prosthetic work, premedication (of a child or for a scared patient)... for anything really. Often the patient has booked a time because of a certain problem, and then we start by clarifying it. After questions and research, I make a diagnosis, and discuss treatment possibilities with the patient. After this, we decide on the treatment plan and begin the treatment. When finishing, I enter patient’s pre-information, symptoms, findings, diagnosis, treatments and continuation plan in the patient registry.
Patients keep coming every 30 minutes. At 12.00 there’s a lunch break of half an hour, during which I often do some work, too. I answer patients’ callback requests or consult for example a general practitioner who’s treating a patient.
At 12.30 begins the emergency duty, receiving patients who have strong and sudden pain in mouth area. Common reasons for emergencies are toothaches, accidents and chin swellings. On emergency duty we aim to diagnose the problem in 20-30 minutes and to give the patients sufficient first-aid for them to cope until the next dentist visit. Typical procedures in the emergency duty are root canal therapy, dental extraction or popping a dental abscess. But you might encounter any kinds of problems, and many times you need some inventiveness, as patients’ problems do not follow the examples in the schoolbooks!
Clinical patient work ends around 14.30, after which I spend 30 minutes by making treatment plans, interpreting X-rays or writing referrals. Every now and then I have a private reception after the work day. On those days I finish with the patient work only at 20.00.
The most rewarding part of the work is to see, how diseases can be cured and how pains disappear. Dentist’s work is very versatile and challenging. The industry is also developing all the time, so continuous training is essential.
The most unpleasant part of the work is using the computer and softwares that don’t always work properly. Sometimes I also worry about patients’ issues after the work day. Due to the professional confidentiality, you however cannot discuss these things with other people.
I initially imagined that dentists would mainly do tooth fillings, but the work is so much more! Firstly, you need to have quite broad knowledge of the general medicine, to understand how oral diseases affect the entire human body, and on the other hand, how other illnesses affect the mouth. The work is very versatile - different areas include for example orthodontics, surgery, pathology, radiology, children’s dental care, endodontics, gum diseases, mucous membrane diseases, prosthodontics, occlusion physiology, administration.. A person with basic dentist education can do all this, but you can also study to become a specialised dentist in certain area.