Dentist essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $154,990
- 2011, number of jobs: 5,150
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 21 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
Dentists; what they do:
Dentists provide patients with health and the confidence only a beautiful white smile can produce. Dentists typically see their patience once or twice a year for general check-ups, scheduling additional services for treating problems with teeth, gums, or other parts of the mouth as needed.
Some of the most common services provided by dentists include: removing decay from teeth, filling cavities, repairing cracked or fractured teeth, abstracting teeth, straightening teeth to correct bite issues, placing sealants on teeth, and whitening teeth.
While performing their daily duties, dentists use tools ranging from mouth mirrors, brushes and probes to x-ray machines, laser, drills, scalpels, and digital scanners. Dentists also provide patients with anesthetics prior to painful procedures and write prescriptions for antibiotics and other medications.
A dental career includes making models and measurements for various dental appliances, such as dentures, and explaining to patients how to use and take care of them. A dentist career also includes educating patients on proper diet, flossing, fluoride use, and brushing for optimal oral health.
Private practice dentists oversee administrative tasks and a staff of dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians, and receptionists.
Although most dentists are general practitioners, there are areas dentists can specialize in such as: periodontists, dental public health specialists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, endodontists, oral and maxillofacial radiologists, orthodontists, oral pathologists, pediatric dentists, or prosthodontists.
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Dentists job titles:
- Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)
- Dental Medicine Doctor
- Associate Dentist
- Dental Surgery Doctor (DDS)
- Family Dentist
- Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)
- Pediatric Dentist
- Cosmetic dentist
Dentists Education, Certification and License Requirements
Dentists must graduate from an accredited dental school and obtain a state license prior to practicing. Individuals applying to dental school must already have a bachelor’s degree, typically a science degree. A science degree, such as a Bachelor of Biology, provides an advantage when applying for dental school, although technically no specific bachelor degree is required for admittance.
Students planning on applying to dental school after graduation need to take the Dental Acceptance Test (DAT) their junior year of college. The results of the DAT combined with grade point average and recommendations affect students’ likelihood of a dental school accepting them.
Dental school always involves students working with actual patients under the supervision of a licensed dentist. All of the nine dental specialties require one to two years of additional training before practicing the specialty. Dentists intending to teach or research full-time spend another two to five years in advanced dental training.
Dentist programs cover subjects such as:
- Local anesthesia
Every state requires dentists to obtain a license prior to practice, although specific state requirements for licensure vary. Additionally, dentists who practice one of the nine specialties must also have a license for their specialty.
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Dentists Job Outlook
Forecast: 21 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for dentists, which is above average for all occupations.
A rising demand for dentists is expected as general health issues are linked more to oral health and as the baby boomer generation ages. Individuals are also more likely to keep their teeth, rather than getting dentures.
The availability and coverage of insurance primarily influences whether individuals see a dentist on a regular basis. For those with insurance, seeing a cosmetic dentist for procedures such as teeth whitening, will continue growing in popularity.
The advent of new and better dental technology lets dentists to see more patients in a day and, therefore, allows them to take on more patients.
- 2011 median annual wage: $154,990
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $187,199
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $109,760
- Dentist’s offices; personally owned or a partnered practice