Dental professionals treat all diseases in the mouth.
An article by Katharina Wagner in collaboration with Cornelia Weber
That is what it’s about
Dental professionals are familiar with diseases of and treatments for the teeth, gums and jaw. Students also work practically at an early stage. They form plaster models, dentures and crowns in what is known as the technical preparatory course. Later on, they practise how to prepare teeth and do fillings on the "Phantom", a head made of plastic. At the latest starting in the seventh semester, they treat patients independently under the supervision of experienced dentists. It usually takes eleven semesters in total. The academic studies are structured the same everywhere and ends with the state examination. In the first half, known as the pre-clinical phase, dental and medical students often sit together in the same auditorium. Dental professionals also need basic scientific and medical knowledge. "The focus is on issues related to the head," says Ulrich Schlagenhauf, professor of Periodontics at the University of Würzburg. In the subsequent clinical section, the material has more relevance to the profession, especially in the five core dental subjects: orthodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, prosthetics, conservative dentistry and periodontology. There are other subjects including hygiene, pharmacology and microbiology. Model degree course, as they are planned e.g. in Heidelberg and Düsseldorf, will establish stronger ties between the subjects. "There will be courses offered there that, for example, teach conservative dentistry and prosthetics together," says Schlagenhauf. The dental examination at the end of the studies includes 13 subjects. To apply for a statutory health insurance licence, you must then complete a two-year preparation period, partially at a statutory health insurance dentist, the rest in a hospital or dental clinic, for example.
suitability, obstacles, misconceptions
Manual dexterity and great precision are important prerequisites for dental school. According to Ulrich Schlagenhauf, students also shouldn't be too sensitive. If a patient, for example, has a foul mouth odour, there is usually a disease behind it. "As a dentist, I shouldn't be disgusted, but should instead think: I am going to help this poor guy." Future dentists also have to be able to cope well with content involving the natural sciences; they also need stamina for the large workload comprised of lectures, treatment courses and laboratory units. The degree course is also expensive. Over the course of the semesters, several thousand euros can easily accrue for instruments. A contra-angle handpiece for treating cavities, for example, costs around EUR 800. Some universities provide a portion of the devices. They can also be bought used and resold later on. The course entrance restrictions for Dentistry are usually in the one grade range; applications are handled at hochschulstart.de.