National Avg. Salary$172,350 More Salary Data →
Job Growth Rate18.1% More Growth Data →
Recommended DegreePhD or Professional Programs & Degrees →
- Dependable Daily Workload
- Don't Take Work Home
- Flexible Hours
- High Income Potential
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Dentists promote and enable proper oral health. Through oral examinations and x-ray technology, dentists identify and treat issues like cavities and gum disease. They also educate patients on oral health best practices and may prescribe toothpastes and mouthwashes that strengthen teeth or repair gums.
The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in dentist roles:
- Perform examinations and review x-rays to identify and diagnose oral health problems
- Remove cavities using drills and other tools, and install fillings
- Administer anesthetics to patients to numb areas where work will be performed
- Educate patients on best practices for good oral hygiene
- Refer patients to oral surgeons, endodontists, and orthodontists when necessary
A Day in the Life
Staff at a dentist’s office usually includes at least one receptionist, one dental hygienist, one dental assistant, and one dentist. The dentist works alongside all of these staff members to provide oral care to patients. When a patient comes in for a routine cleaning, he/she usually sees the dental hygienist first. The dental hygienist cleans the patient’s teeth and takes x-rays if needed. The dentist usually does not see a patient until after his/her teeth has been cleaned.
After the cleaning, the dentist performs an oral examination of the patient and reviews x-rays to identify and diagnose problems like cavities and gum disease. Once the examination is complete, the dentist will explain any issues discovered to the patient and recommend treatment if necessary. The recommended treatment may be returning to the dentist’s office for cavity removal or other repair, or the dentist may prescribe a fluoride toothpaste or special mouthwash for strengthening teeth or cleaning gums.
The dentist also works with his/her assistant to remove cavities, replace holes in teeth with filings, and repair issues like cracked teeth. Additionally, dentists and their assistants may install crowns or bridges. Some dentists may also be able to extract teeth, perform root canals, and install implants, though additionally schooling is required to perform these procedures. Instead, of going through additional training, some dentists refer patients to specialists when the treatment needed requires special care.
Typical Work Schedule
Most dentists work during business hours, though they may need to be available in evenings or on weekends for patient emergencies, or to accommodate patients that are unable to take off of work to go to the dentist. Generally, dentists are able to set their own schedules and choose the hours they want to work.
Projected Job Growth
An increase in the number of people who have dental insurance and growing concerns about oral health and cosmetics has created an increase in demand for dentists that’s expected to continue over the coming decade.
Most dentists are general practitioners that perform many tasks that lead to oral health, but some dentists choose to specialize in a specific treatment area:
- Endodontists are dentists that specialize in performing root canal procedures.
- Orthodontists specialize in the installation, adjustment, and maintenance of braces.
- Oral surgeons perform surgeries—such as tooth extractions—that may require patients to be sedated during procedures.
- Pediatric dentists specialize in treating infants, young children, and adolescent patients
Most dentists work for themselves, either in an individual or group practice. Dentists who work in a group practice usually share space—and potentially office personnel—with other dentists in their group. However, some dentists are also able to find work in hospitals, and some are employed by dental franchise corporations.
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Dentist Salary Data
We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.
National Annual Salary
National Hourly Wage
How do Dentist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Dentist's can make an average annual salary of $172,350, or $83 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $109,030 or $52 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.
Salary Rankings And Facts
#12 Nationally for All Careers
Above Average Salary Nationally
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How To Become
The minimum requirement for working as a general dentist is a graduate degree from one of three programs: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM), or Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD). To be admitted into a graduate dentist program, students must have a bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree a student earns can be from any field of study, though those with degrees focused on science may have a better chance of being admitted.
In addition to holding a DDS, DDM, or DMD degree, most general dentists must be licensed to work as dentists in their state. Getting licensed typically requires prospective dentists to pass written and practical exams administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE). However, each state has its own requirements, so aspiring dentists should review all licensing requirements in the state(s) they want to practice in to be sure all requirements are met.
Dentists that want to perform more specialized procedures—like root canals, oral surgeries, or orthodontics—must obtain additional certifications after earning a general dentistry degree. The process of being certified to perform specialized procedures usually entails completing a 2- or 4-year residency in that specialty, and may require passing additional written and practical examinations in order to become licensed in their states for those specialties.
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Recommended Min. Degree
PhD or Professional
Highest Education Among Dentist
- 95.5% Doctorate
- 2.1% Masters
- 1.7% Bachelors
- 0.3% Associates
- 0% College
- 0.3% High School
- 0.2% Less than High School
Job Growth Projections and Forecast
2014 Total Jobs129,000
2024 Est. Jobs152,300
Job Growth Rate18.1%
Est. New Jobs23,300
How does Dentist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 23,300 jobs for a total of 152,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 18.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.
Growth Rankings And Facts
#71 Nationally for All Careers
Above Avg. Growth Nationally
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