Dental mentorship & why it’s important

By: Savanah Craig

If you attend enough ASDA events, you’ll hear about the importance of finding a mentor to help support you on your journey towards a career in dentistry. However, there isn’t much explanation about how to find a mentor or why it’s so important.

How to Find a Dentist Mentor

Here are steps to finding the best Dentist Mentor for you:

Experience

When seeking a mentor, you want to look for someone who has more experience than you. It’s also beneficial to choose a mentor that you have something in common with, or who has had success similar to what you are hoping to achieve in your own life and career.

Know What Type of Mentor You Are Seeking

Know what you’re looking for in a mentor. If you’re goal is to become a faculty member at a dental school, you may want to look for mentors who work in that field already. It can, however, be helpful to have different mentors that you can go to for different types of questions. Don’t limit yourself.

Dentistry is unique and subjective and the more people you have in your corner to bounce ideas off, the better you’ll be. You may have different mentors for different purposes and different seasons of your life and career.

Ask for Advice

There are endless opportunities to find someone to learn from. The best advice I can give to someone looking to find a mentor is to put yourself out there. Ask your dental school if they know of any alumni who may be interested in talking with you. Most successful dentists have had someone help them get to where they are today and would appreciate a chance to give back by helping you.

Attend Dental Conferences

Another great place to find a mentor is at dental conferences. Meet the presenters and do a bit of networking. You never know what opportunities may present themselves if you put yourself out there.

What Does a Dental Mentor Do?

Once you’ve found someone who you’re interested in learning from, it’s important to communicate what you’re looking for in this relationship and what you hope to learn from them. It is also important to show them what you can offer this relationship. Having a connection with your mentor outside of dentistry is crucial because allows for more natural conversations and a better relationship.

A good mentor/mentee relationship allows you to grow and learn from each other. Most importantly, be respectful of your mentor’s time. You can call them if you have a question about a case or if there is something you’d like to discuss, but don’t expect a lengthy conversation every day.

Additionally, don’t expect them to solve your problems without putting in any effort yourself. Often, I’ll bring up a question to my mentor and explain the research or problem-solving I’ve already attempted and ask for their opinion on what my next steps should be. They are there to be a support and guide, not to do the work for you.

The Importance of Dental Mentorship

There are various ways to have a successful career in dentistry, and for this reason, I think mentorship is such an important aspect of dentistry. Treatment planning, patient relationships, and team leadership can look different in every office and for every provider. That’s why having someone in your corner who you can bounce ideas off is so important.

Dental school exists to teach you the fundamentals of dentistry, but beyond that, you need to seek out opportunities for further growth and skill development. A strong mentor will help push you to achieve your goals and improve your skills as a successful clinician.

Up Next: How to Manage a Dental Team as a New Dentist

Photo by Christina Morillo

Savanah Craig

Savanah Craig

Savanah Craig is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. She is currently a 2022 D.D.S. Candidate at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. She will be pursuing a General Practice Residency in Columbia, SC following graduation. In her free time, Savanah enjoys reading, exploring new restaurants, and traveling.