3 minute read


Education and Training: Specialized training
Average Salary: $142,870 median annual salary
Job Outlook: Good

Dentists perform a variety of services to treat patients for proper health for teeth and the mouth, including providing preventative care to help fight tooth decay and other problems. Dentists clean teeth, fill cavities, perform x-rays, repair teeth, and can extract teeth if they need to be removed. Dentists also fit patients for protective dental prosthetics. Dentists can also perform surgery, write prescriptions, and straighten teeth.

Dentists will use all types of equipment, including x-rays, drills, mirrors, scalpels, etc. They wear protective clothing and other types of gear like masks, gloves, and glasses.

Dentists can work in general private practices or specialize in a number of areas like orthodontics, endodontists, oral pathologists (diagnosing oral diseases) or dental public health specialists, among others.

Education and Training Requirements

People wanting to become dentists should study sciences in high school like biology, chemistry, physics, and health. They should also study math. In college, pre-dental students can either major in a science or another subject while also taking science classes.

Following college, dentists are required to seek specialized training at one of 57 dental schools accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation. Those schools require at least two years of college education before enrollment. Students must take the Dental Admissions Test to get into dental school, and the competition for spots in those schools is very competitive. During the four years of dental school, students will take classes in clinical sciences and lab work. The final two years of dental school include having students treat patients. Once school is completed, students earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. Following school, dentists are required to become licensed by the state where they practice.

Getting the Job

Dentists typically get jobs following dental school. While in school, they often work in clinics or private practices during the final two years. The clinical work they do could lead to employment at a private practice or clinic, or the student can seek work at another practice or open their own.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The prospects for jobs for dentists are good, and the number of dentists is expected to increase by 16 percent in 2018. As the United States population grows older and lives longer, it is expected that the need for more dental work will increase. Also, some private insurance providers have increased dental coverage, which will allow for more people to seek dental care. Another factor which could increase the need for dentists is the increasing demand for cosmetic care for teeth, like teeth whitening.

Dentists have a variety of career paths, including teaching (which will require further schooling). They can open their own practice, work for someone else, or buy an existing practice.

Working Conditions and Environment

Dentists typically work a standard, 40-hour, Monday-Friday business week with some weekend and off-hours emergency work required. The work is performed in offices, and they have a lot of contact with the public. They wear gloves, masks, goggles, and other protective equipment to protect them.

Salary and Benefits

The median salary for all dentists is $142,870. This number varies depending on experience, location, and a number of other factors. Dentists who own their own practices are responsible for their own benefits packages like health insurance, while those who work for someone else can expect a typical benefits package.

Where to Go for More Information
American Dental Association
211 East Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611-2678
(312) 440-2500

National Dental Association
3517 16th St., NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 588-1697

U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210
(866) 487-2365

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine