If you’re one of the many people who pose for myriad selfies each week, you have your dentist to thank for that dazzling smile. But dentists do more than just make our smiles look good; they help us have overall excellent oral health, including teeth, gums, tongue and even jaw. If you like the idea of helping people improve their health while at the same time feel confident in their appearance, a career in dentistry may be just what the doctor ordered.

Career Description

Dentists perform many important functions when it comes to oral health. One of their biggest roles is to provide regular check-ups to ensure patients are on top of their oral hygiene. On top of routine check-ups, dentists also perform specific procedures such as filling cavities, tooth extractions, and cleaning and polishing teeth.

Within the career of dentistry, there are specific specialties you may want to consider focusing on. Each of these entail particular duties and will require further training and certification.

Examples of specialties include:

Endodontics

This area specializes in the treatment of the soft tissues or “pulp” of the tooth, which is made up of blood vessels and nerves. Endodontists typically perform root canals and other procedures that involve the inner tooth.

Orthodontics

If you’re like a lot of people, you spent much time at the orthodontist’s office growing up. These specialists are in charge of straightening and aligning the teeth and jaw. He or she will fit a person with braces and retainers and will treat disorders involving misaligned teeth.

Periodontics

Periodontists deal with the health of their patients’ gums and other issues dealing with soft tissues.

Prosthodontics

These specialists deal with cosmetic dentistry to help their patients have the appearance of teeth after some have been removed. This may entail dental implants or creating bridges.

Pediatric Dentistry

Pediatric dentists specialize in treating children’s oral health. They may sometimes work with other specialists when needed.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for dentists in May of 2018 was $156,240. The lowest 10% earned less than $72,840, and the highest 10% earned more than $208,000. These wages are impacted by a few things, namely the dentist’s location, number of hours worked, level of education and specialty.

The BLS also projects that employment for dentists is expected to grow 7% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. One of the reasons that there will be an increasing demand for dental services is an ever-increasing aging population. Many baby-boomers will need dental work, and in some cases, extensive dental work.

It’s important to mention that the number of graduates from dental programs has increased over the years, so there may be fierce competition for jobs. One way to set yourself apart if through higher education.

Read more about what a career in dentistry can offer you.

The Path to Becoming a Dentist

If you’re ready to begin on your path to becoming a dentist, here are the steps you’ll need to take:

Step 1: Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree

Most dental schools will require that you hold at least a bachelor’s degree to gain admission, but don’t require students have a specific degree.  That means you could get your bachelor’s online in any subject, and still be able to apply. Though no specific pre-dental major is required, it’s recommended that you focus on on some courses in either biology, healthcare or chemistry . This coursework will offer relevant information that will help you prepare for dental school.

Regardless of which major you choose, be sure to see how OnlineDegree.com could help you as well.  You can take free courses toward your degree and utilize tuition discounts we’ve organized at universities across the country…we provide all of this for free as part of our mission to make college a reality for everyone.

Step 2. (optional) Join a Mentoring Program

Students may benefit from joining dentist mentoring programs or the American Student Dental Association (ASDA). These will guide prospective dental students and guide them through the dental school admission process.

Step 3. Take the Dental Admission Test

Before you can apply to dental school, you’ll first have to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT), which will assess if you’ve obtained the right level of knowledge. Depending on the school you are applying to, there may be a minimum score required on the DAT. Schools will also take into consideration grade point averages, interviews and letters of recommendation during the admission process.

Step 4. Earn Your Dental Degree

Students will typically spend four years in dental school. The last two years of school will focus on clinical practice, in which students learn to diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of dental instructors. Upon graduation, students will have earned their Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree.

Step 5. Obtain Licensure

All dentists are required to obtain licensure to practice in their state. Requirements will vary from state to state, so you will want to check to understand what is required of you.

Step 6. (optional) Consider a Specialization

You may decide to either go into general dentistry or to specialize. Becoming a specialist will require another 2 to 4 years of additional education, and in some instances, a residency of up to 2 years. But the additional potential income is well worth the additional years spent in school.

Getting Started on Your Career in Dentistry

You now understand that your first step on getting started toward your dream career is getting that bachelor’s degree. But here are a few additional resources to check out to get started on your path to becoming a dentist:

  • Why Online Education Might Be Best- If you’re like a lot of working adults, you don’t have a lot of free time or extra money to put toward your higher education. An online degree offers flexible scheduling for adult students who have other work/life commitments. This means, even if you’re a parent that also works full-time, an online program can work around your schedule to help you reach your dream career.
  • Salary and Other Data for Dentists
  • How OnlineDegree.com Can Help- To make college a reality for everyone, we provide free courses that could apply toward your degree, tuition discounts at universities across the country, and much needed guidance.  All free.

If you’re ready to get started toward becoming an accountant, enroll with us today!