So you decided you want to be a dentist? Think again! As a dentist with several years of experience and more insight into the field, I warn you it may not be the right career path for you. And here are the reasons why dentistry sucks:
1- Dentists are poor.
Yes you heard me right. Gone all the golden age of dentistry when you could see a few patient a day, earn decent amount of money and go home with a big happy smile thinking about how to invest in stocks or real estate. And don't get fooled by young dentists driving Mercedes and BMWs. You don't know how much debt they are under and how longer they can survive before they are all burnt out to pay it off. For many dental students, It's like something you have to do after you graduate, buy yourself a nice car to reward yourself for many years of studying. They can not really afford it and it just adds to their huge debt. All that statistics on dentists having highest salaries are true but it does not tell you at the end of the year how much of it is left for them. You do the math. The cost of education $200,000, the cost of starting a practice $500,000. Average dentist salary $100,000.
2- Stress kills you
Dentistry ruins your mind and body. If you ever had a filling you know how frightening the shot is. Imagine you have to stick a needle to someone's, especially if it is kid, mouth and see them horrified as if you are some kind of a monster. I feel like for every time I do it it my life becomes a day shorter for the amount of stress I have to tolerate. And that's just the needle. We can talk about the drill, the extraction etc. If I had a nickel every time a patient said to me I" hate the dentist" instead of saying Hi when they sat on the chair, I would be rich.
The other aspect of emotional trauma you get from dentistry comes from your employer which pressures you for meeting production numbers and you know if you don't meet their numbers you will lose your job and can not pay your loans. So you end up working like a rat seeing 15 to 30 patients a day running from one chair to the other. If you were working on computers or machines and objects, it was easier because now you are working on people's mouth. They trusted you with the health of their mouth and you face the challenge of taking good care of them while keeping up with the pace. If you own the practice, the situation is not any better because you have your practice business loans to pay plus other responsibilities of managing a business such as lease payments and managing the staff and a lot more.
3- Dentistry is disgusting
Have you ever noticed someone breath stinks when they talk to you? Now you have to bend over their mouth and clean the build-up of all the mess they have not cleaned for a lifetime. Tooth decay, gum infection, dentures, bleeding gums... I leave the rest to your imagination.
4- Physical Trauma
Dentistry ruins your body too. When I opened my own practice after working for someone else for a few years, I was already feeling the pain in my back, wrist and fingers. Yes they tell you you should be careful with your posture and take breaks when you work but it only works in books. You have to bend over a lot and keep your hand in a certain position for a long time. All dentists at some point will feel that chronic trauma. And that's beside the risk of hepatitis infection, HIV etc. It's physically very demanding and eventually takes you down.
5- It's getting worse.
With the changes in economy people don't spend as much on their teeth. Corporate dentistry is growing and private practice dentistry is shrinking. Insurance companies are taking the grip. They pay you a fraction of the fees. If you don't sign up with them, no patients for you. So the rat race begins. Unfortunately, people who are running those businesses are good with business and know how to be efficient and profitable by putting the pressure on employees. The number of dental schools and their graduats are growing faster than the general population. It means you have no option but to take any job you get. And trust me. You are not going to like what you get for the amount of time, money and passion you gave.
Yes. If you are weird and like disgusting things, if you can get enough scholarships and go to a cheap school, meaning you don't have to acquire much debt and if you are not smart enough to do something that gives you better return on investment, or you are so smart that you know how to take advantage of this new growing business model of dentistry, go ahead. Good luck. But if you just like people and want to help people, I am telling you, you won't like yourself.