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Dental health is important for numerous reasons, and dentists are the superheroes responsible for making our teeth radiant and beautiful. They help us with dental problems such as tooth decay, bad breath, periodontal or gum disease, etc.
If you are interested in dentist jobs, keep reading. We will cover everything there is to know about this profession. We will discuss the requirements for becoming a dentist, different types of dentists, and the overall job outlook.
Healthy, pearly-white teeth make your smile radiant, welcoming, and overall beautiful. To achieve this, not only do you need to drink plenty of water and consume veggies and fruits, but you also have to make regular visits to your dentist to make sure your oral health is on point.
So whether you are interested in becoming a dentist or just want to learn more about this noble profession, you will find this article useful.
About Dentist Jobs
What Do Dentists Do?
A dentist is a medical expert who practices in the field of dentistry. Dentists are trained to diagnose and treat issues with patients’ gums, teeth, and other parts of the oral cavity.
Furthermore, dentists give oral health advice, and they inform patients about the different dietary choices that may affect it.
Here’s what you would do if you choose to embark on the dentist career path:
- Remove or repair damaged teeth
- Fill in cavities and remove decay
- Place whitening agents or sealants
- Prescribe medications
- Give patients pain killers during procedures
- Make measurements and models for various dental appliances
- Take X-rays
- Educate patients on flossing, dental care, and diet
- Monitor teeth development and growth
- Make treatment plants to restore and maintain the oral health of their patients
Generally, there are seven types of dental jobs one should be aware of. These are the following:
- General dentists
- Pediatric dentists or pedodontists
- Oral surgeons or oral pathologists
The general dentist jobs involve providing patients with routine dental exams and teeth cleanings. If required, general dentists will refer the patient to other types of dentists for further procedures or services.
Orthodontists specialize in jaw and teeth alignment, using braces, wires, retainers, and various other medical devices.
Prosthodontists repair jawbones and teeth and provide patients with cosmetic dentistry. Furthermore, prosthodontists fit patients with bridges, crowns, and dentures.
As for pediatric dentist jobs, they involve dental treatment and care for the youth, whereas periodontists assist in treating gum disease.
Endodontists tackle problems concerning the nerves of teeth, and they specialize in performing root canals.
There are also dental surgeon jobs performed by experts who treat illnesses of the jaw and the teeth. They are also skilled in performing surgery and may operate closely with nose, throat, and ear specialists.
However, one should not confuse dentists with dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental ceramicists, etc. Even though dentists and those performing dental hygiene jobs focus on helping patients have better gums and teeth, the latter focuses more on teeth cleaning.
Conversely, dentists provide treatment to keep your mouth, gums, and teeth healthy, and they also supervise dental hygienists.
In 2018, experts in this profession held around 155,000 jobs in the United States. More specifically, there were around 136,900 general dentists, 6,500 orthodontists, 5,900 oral and maxillofacial surgeons, 5,200 dentists specializing in something else, and 500 prosthodontists.
When it comes to the dentist work environment in 2018, 74% of the experts worked in offices, 16% were self-employed, and 3% worked for the government. A lot of dental professionals run a personal practice and work with a small staff or alone, while others team up with a partner.
Injuries and Illnesses
Even though many people think that this isn’t the case, the truth is that dentist jobs are extremely physically demanding. Dentists perform tedious and precise tasks with their hands on a tiny area over long periods.
Dental professionals may be exposed to infections such as viral hepatitis and HIV, as well as radiation, percutaneous exposure incidents, and respiratory disorders. They must wear gloves, safety glasses, and masks to protect their patients and themselves from infectious illnesses.
Those pursuing dental careers have variable work schedules. For instance, some dentists work weekends and evenings to meet the needs of their patients. According to the BLS, even though the majority of dentists work less than 40 hours weekly, some work much more than that.
According to other sources, dentists who work full-time spend around 36 hours weekly, of which about 33 hours is spent on patient treatments. However, part-time dental jobs allow dentists to have flexible work schedules.
How to Become a Dentist?
The dentist career pathway requires education, training, and becoming licensed. Namely, these professionals must be licensed by the state in which they are practicing dentistry.
Even though candidates typically require a degree from an accredited program, licensure requirements may vary by state. All dentists must pass clinical and written exams. On top of that, they must also complete postdoctoral training.
The dentist career path is paved with the following qualities:
- Detail orientation—Dentists pay extra attention to the color and shape of teeth, as well as the tiny spaces in between.
- Excellent communication skills—They must communicate successfully with dental hygienists, receptionists, assistants, and patients.
- Dexterity—These professionals must be skilled with their hands.
- Excellent organizational skills—Dentists must keep error-free records in both business and medical settings.
- Superb problem-solving skills—Individuals interested in dentist positions must be able to evaluate the symptoms of their patients and choose the right treatment.
- Patience—This quality is especially important when treating children or individuals who are afraid of dentists.
- Good business sense—This quality is vital for dentists who train, oversee, hire staff, and work in private practices.
- Curiosity and passion for learning—Dentists must have a strong desire to learn about the newest technologies and latest procedures.
Dentist Job Requirements and Education
As previously mentioned, dentists typically require a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) or doctor of medicine in dentistry/doctor of dental medicine (DMD) degree from an accredited program.
The majority of programs require candidates to have at least a bachelor’s degree and complete courses in chemistry, biology, etc. Keep in mind that even though a specific undergraduate major is not required, candidates who major in certain sciences—like chemistry—have an advantage.
To be able to apply for dental jobs, you must have a proper education. This involves taking the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Besides the test, schools consider factors such as interviews, recommendations, and average grade points when admitting potential students into their accredited programs.
These accredited programs usually feature coursework in different subjects such as periodontics or anatomy. It’s also important to note that every dental school program includes supervised clinical experience by a licensed dentist.
Before applying for jobs in dental health, all dentists have to complete extra training. More specifically, the training consists of two to four years of residency in an accredited program by CODA that is related to the specific specialty. This often culminates in a master’s degree or a postdoctoral certificate.
Additionally, the maxillofacial and oral surgery accredited programs usually take four to six years, after which the student earns a joint MD degree (medical doctor).
As for general dentists, they do not require additional training after completing dental school. Those professionals who want to do research or teach may need more advanced dental training.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Dentist job openings are reserved for dentists who are licensed by the state they are working in. Keep in mind that every state requires these professionals to be licensed, with no exceptions.
The majority of the states require a dentist to possess a DMD or DDS degree from an accredited program, as well as pass the National Board Dental Examinations and regional or state clinical examination.
Furthermore, a professional interested in a specific dental specialty must be licensed for that particular specialty.
There are plenty of advancement opportunities for a person in this profession. After working in dentistry, some experts may want to further their education and pursue different dental specialties. Any expert can specialize to become an orthodontist, dental surgeon, prosthodontist, and medical scientist.
Dentists who wish to become orthodontists and apply for some of the best dentist jobs out there must first finish a two-to-three-year accredited orthodontic program.
Dentists who are medical scientists conduct independent research and create solutions to crucial problems in health.
According to the BLS, the median annual dentist-jobs salary in May 2019 was a total of $159,200. Furthermore, the lowest 10% earned less than a total of $79,670, whereas the highest 10% earned over $208,00.
In May 2019, the median annual wage for orthodontists, prosthodontists, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons was $208,000 or more, whereas general dentists earned $155,600.
When it comes to dentists working in all other specialties, their median annual wage in May 2019 was $147,220.
Keep in mind that a dentist has a salary that varies based on their location, as well as specialty, number of years in practice, and number of hours worked.
The best-paying cities for dentists are Amarillo, Texas, where experts earn $279,580, and Longview, Texas, where the average salary is $275,530.
Furthermore, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin ($268,920), Reno, Nevada ($267,410), and Sebring, Florida ($259,660), also pay their dentists well.
As for states, Delaware is on the top of the list of best-paying places for this profession ($264,440), followed by Alaska ($259,350), Rhode Island ($254,190), Minnesota ($227,280), and New Hampshire ($226,300).
Dentist Job Outlook
According to the BLS data, the overall employment of experts in this profession is predicted to grow by 7% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than the average for all jobs.
It is believed that the demand for dental experts will increase as the baby boomer generation ages. There will be an increased demand for dental care and complex dental work such as bridges and dental implants.
Dentist Job Prospects
Fortunately, dentists’ job prospects are expected to be fairly good, especially for those who might want to work in underserved areas. Nevertheless, one must keep in mind that the number of graduates from accredited programs has greatly increased in the current years.
Furthermore, the rate at which dentists leave their jobs is expected to be much lower than for other jobs. Hence, the competition is fierce.
Pros and Cons
Just like any other career, dental jobs also have their positives and negatives. If you are wondering what these perks and drawbacks are, keep reading.
- The rapidly growing job market
- Stable income
- Highly respected profession
- An excellent choice for people-oriented individuals
- An interesting and challenging job
- Flexible hours
- Chance to change lives and help others
- Creativity (sculpting and carving is nothing less of an artform)
- Lengthy education process
- Expensive education
- High responsibility (prescribing drugs, administering anesthesia, performing oral surgery, etc.)
- Stress that comes with most dentist jobs
- Frequently on call on the weekends
- Some patients are challenging to work with
- Unpredictable (sick assistant, emergency root canal, awkward patient, etc.)
- Highly intense
- Some people find it unpleasant (due to dealing with the patient’s bad breath or overall hygiene, the sight of blood, etc.)
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to become a dentist?
According to sources, it takes somewhere between six and eight years to become a dental professional. Nevertheless, the exact path to becoming a dentist largely depends on factors such as whether or not the student selects a specialization.
Keep in mind that specializations, such as becoming a periodontist or an oral surgeon, will require extra education and training.
How hard is it to become a dentist?
Dentistry is a profession that requires patience and plenty of hard work. Students need to be ambitious, consistent, and sedulous. On the positive side, we believe it’s completely worth it and that the hard work pays off.
How much does it cost to become a dentist?
Even though the cost of dental school will mainly vary depending on where the student decides to study, we have presented you with a rough estimate of the average costs by the type of institution.
On average, private school costs $67,087, including tuition and fees, whereas public schools cost $37,877, including tuition and fees.
Over the course of four years, it is expected that a dental student may have to pay between $151,501 and $268,348 on education.
How to become a pediatric dentist?
In order to become a pediatric dentist, candidates must earn a DMD or a DDS degree after attaining their bachelor’s degree.
Furthermore, candidates who want to become pediatric dentists must complete a pediatric dental residency program.
How to become a dentist fast?
We are sorry to break this news to you, but there’s no shortcut to becoming a competent dentist. As we have previously mentioned, the road to becoming a dentist is long and difficult, but very rewarding.
The best tip we can give to you is to select the best universities, study hard, and never give up on your dreams.
Also, you may want to inform yourself about other healthcare jobs as well.
We firmly believe that if your goal is to succeed in dentist jobs, then certainly go chase your dreams.
And even though it takes years of arduous work, dedication, sleepless nights, and countless coffee breaks, we believe it can be highly rewarding.