A dentist working on a client's teeth.

From the iconic Hermey the Elf in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer who dreams of becoming a dentist, to the infamous Dr. Seuss's The Tooth Book, dentistry has been romanticized and simplified in popular culture. However, the reality of the profession is far more complex and rewarding than these portrayals suggest. 

Choosing a career is a significant decision, and it's essential to align your personality traits and skills with your profession. 

What Does a Dentist Do?

A dentist is a medical professional who diagnoses and treats issues related to the oral cavity. This includes teeth, gums and other related parts of the mouth. Daily tasks can range from conducting routine check-ups, filling cavities, performing extractions, and diagnosing oral diseases.

Dentistry is a diverse field with various specializations. Some dentists may choose to focus on pediatric dentistry, working primarily with children, while others might specialize in orthodontics, focusing on correcting teeth and jaw alignment.

What Are the Skills Needed to Become a Dentist?

  1. Communication skills: Dentists need to explain complex medical information to patients in a way they can understand. They also need to create a comfortable environment for patients who may be anxious about dental procedures.
  2. Analytical thinking: Dentists must be able to diagnose and treat a wide range of oral health issues. This requires a keen eye for detail and the ability to think critically.
  3. Manual dexterity: Dentistry is a hands-on profession. Dentists need excellent motor skills to perform precise procedures in a small space.
  4. Patience: Dental procedures can be time-consuming. Dentists need to be patient and focused, ensuring they provide the best care for their patients.
  5. Business acumen: Many dentists run their own practices, requiring skills in business management, including accounting, human resources and marketing.

Which Personality Types Make the Best Dentists?

Certain personality traits can be beneficial for a career in dentistry. Using the Big Five personality traits and TypeFinder types as references, we can explore how personality can influence professional aptitude in dentistry.

Big Five Personality Traits of Dentists

  1. Openness: Dentists need to be open to new techniques and technologies to provide the best care for their patients. They also need to be open-minded when dealing with diverse patient populations.
  2. Conscientiousness: High conscientiousness is essential for the profession. Dentists need to be organized, detail-oriented and responsible to ensure patient safety and satisfaction.
  3. Extraversion: While not a requirement, being outgoing can help dentists build rapport with their patients and staff. However, introverts can also thrive in this career. 
  4. Agreeableness: Dentists need to be empathetic and kind, especially when dealing with anxious or fearful patients.
  5. Neuroticism: High levels of neuroticism may be a disadvantage in this profession, as dentists need to remain calm and composed during procedures.

You can take our Big Five personality test to see how these traits play out in your life.

TypeFinder Types of Dentists

Certain TypeFinder types may find the profession of dentistry more suitable. For instance, ISTJs and ESTJs, with their practical, detail-oriented nature and strong sense of responsibility, often excel in this profession.

On the other hand, ESFJs and ENFJs, with their strong interpersonal skills and empathy, may excel in patient interactions and care.

Take our TypeFinder assessment to find out your unique type.

How to Get Started Becoming a Dentist

If you're considering a career in dentistry, start by shadowing a dentist or interning at a dental office. This will give you a firsthand look at the profession. You'll also need to pursue a bachelor's degree, followed by a dental degree from an accredited dental school.

Consider taking career assessments like the Career Personality Profiler Test, Holland Code Career Test, or DISC Personality Test to help guide your decision-making.

Should I Become a Dentist? 

Every personality has unique potential within the field of dentistry. Whether you're a detail-oriented ISTJ or an empathetic ENFJ, there's a place for you in this rewarding profession. Remember, choosing a career is a journey of self-discovery. So, take the next step, explore your options, and find your niche in the world of dentistry.

Megan Malone
Megan holds an MS in organizational psychology and manages content and brand marketing at Truity. She is passionate about helping people improve their relationships, careers, and quality of life using personality psychology. An INFJ and Enneagram 9, Megan lives quietly in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and two pups. You can chat with her on Twitter @meganmmalone.