How to Become a

Pediatric Dentist

The complete career guide to be a Pediatric Dentist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $171,040
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 9%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Pediatric dentists work in offices that are designed for young children and adolescents. They teach children how to maintain good oral health and educate them on oral health problems like cavities and gum disease. They also treat cavities and other problems in a way that isn’t terrifying for young patients.

Recommended Schools

What is a Pediatric Dentist?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in pediatric dentist roles:

  • Teach children how to maintain good oral health by brushing teeth, flossing, and avoiding frequent consumption of sodas and sweets
  • Make young patients feel comfortable about coming to the dentist office for cleanings, examinations, and fillings
  • Remove cavities, administer anesthetics, and install fillings while comforting patients and making them less anxious about procedures
  • Applying sealants to patient’s teeth once adult teeth come in, and refer patients to orthodontists when adult teeth come in improperly

A Day in the Life

Pediatric dentists are dentists that are specially trained to treat infant, child, and adolescent patients. Pediatric dentists can begin treating patients as soon as their first tooth appears, so they’re specially trained to handle and comfort patients who haven’t yet reached an age where they can be reasoned with. As such, pediatric dentists are trained to make young patients feel comfortable about visiting the dentist and having teeth cleaned, examined, and repaired.

Initially, pediatric dentists educate parents on how to properly care for their children’s oral health. However, once a child is old enough to care for his own teeth and gums, the dentist educates the child on techniques like how to properly brush teeth, floss, and eat for good oral health. The pediatric dentist also teaches children about cavities and what repairs they may have to have performed if they don’t take care of their teeth properly.

Pediatric dentists are trained to perform all oral healthcare during a patient’s childhood, so they monitor the placement of incoming teeth, remove and fill any cavities, and seal adult teeth to prevent cavities later in life. When needing to repair teeth, pediatric dentists are trained to administer anesthetic and drill teeth in a way that doesn’t cause children to panic and put them at risk for injury. In some cases, this may be explaining what’s happening, and in others, it may be performing procedures carefully without the child knowing what’s happening.

Typical Work Schedule

Pediatric dentists generally set their own schedules and are able to work at whatever times work best for their personal needs. However, most pediatric dentists work during normal business hours. They may occasionally need to be available on evenings or weekends for patient emergencies.

Projected Job Growth

Because dental insurance is more available today than it was in the past, and because of growing awareness of the importance of oral health, it’s expected that demand for pediatric dentists will significantly increase in the coming decade.

Typical Employers

The majority of pediatric dentists are self-employed are either operate their own practice or work as part of a shared group practice. However, some pediatric dentists are employed by hospitals, and some work for franchise family or pediatric dentistry corporations.

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How To Become a Pediatric Dentist

Becoming a pediatric dentist requires three steps: you must earn a bachelor’s degree, earn a professional dentistry degree, and complete a two-year specialized training program in pediatric dentistry. Earning a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for acceptance into a graduate dentistry program. There isn’t a specific requirement for the type of degree needed to be accepted into a dentistry program, but undergraduate coursework in the sciences may be helpful.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, you can apply for acceptance into graduate dentistry programs. To work as a dentist, you’ll need to earn one of three degrees: Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM), Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD), or Doctor of Dental Surgery. After completing the graduate dentistry program, you’ll also need to take written and practical exams in order to become licensed to perform dental work in your state. At this point, you will be qualified to work as a dentist, but not as a pediatric dentist.

Pediatric dentists must attend an additional training program after completing a dentistry degree that may consist of additional coursework and residency programs that provide specialized training for working with pediatric-aged patients. Once the additional educational and residency program is complete, pediatric dentists may also be required to take additional licensing exams to become licensed pediatric dentists in their state(s) of practice.

Pediatric 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 Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Pediatric Dentist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Pediatric Dentist's can make an average annual salary of $171,040, or $82 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $92,270 or $44 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #13 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Highest Education Among Pediatric Dentists

  • 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 Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Pediatric Dentist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 600 jobs for a total of 7,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 9% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #244 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Pediatric Dentists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Offices of dentists 2,900 600 1%
Federal government, excluding postal service 2,300 -200 0%
Self-employed workers 1,000 200 0%

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