Dentist Career - Salary, Duties & Job Information

Dentists Career Description

A dentist treats and promotes the prevention of diseases of the teeth, gums, mouth, and teaching patients how to care for their teeth properly. Dentists are mouth specialists. There are three different types of dentistry general, cosmetic and orthodontics.

Duties and Responsibilities

Dentist duties include filling cavities, straightening teeth, examining x-rays, and removing tooth decay. Dentists also provide instruction on how to care for your teeth, including how to brush and floss. A dentist helps people maintain their oral health. This process is important as research has linked a person’s dental heath to their overall health.

Work Environment

A dentist can work in a dental office, hospitals or their own private practice. Private practice in dentistry involves the overseeing of an assortment of administrative tasks, which includes bookkeeping and purchasing their equipment and supplies. They also employ dental hygienists, assistants, laboratory technicians, and receptionists.

How to become a Dentist

Education and Training

Education for dentistry starts at an early age. People pursuing such a career should take high school physics, biology, chemistry, health and mathematics courses. People need to pursue colleges that offer a two year pre dental program with an emphasis on the sciences. As the career is highly competitive, one must apply for colleges well before the deadline. Time in college should be spent focusing on your science courses. Before entering into dental school, most people attain a bachelor's degree in one of the sciences. Dedicated individuals should contact the American Dental Association for a list of four year dental schools accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Those individuals will eventually be required to take the Dental Admissions Test, and take two years of dental school classroom and lab dentist courses as part of their Dentist qualifications. The final two years of dental education is spent in clinics under licensed supervision. People can obtain a license by passing written and practical state examinations after they have graduated from dental school.

If you plan on pursuing a career in dentistry, make sure you know the requirements for your state’s licensing before you take the examination. Check on your state’s requirements for specialty licenses in the dental fields. Dentists who desire to go into teaching or researching usually spend an extra two to five years working in programs operated by hospitals or dental schools to further improve their Dentist skills.

Other Qualifications and Skills

Becoming a dentist takes dedication and patience. A dentist’s skills should include manual abilities and a good ability to diagnose patients. Dentist’s skills also include a good memory, excellent judgment, good manual dexterity, and advanced abilities in science. When having your own private practice, good business sense, and communication skills are also helpful.


Demand for dentists seems to follow the business cycle. When the economy is slow, the demand for dental services may decrease and may lead to less Dentist opportunities. If you have your own practice, you may work fewer hours because of reduced demand.

Employment Opportunities

Statistics say that dentist job opportunities were around 161,000 jobs in the year 2006. One third of those dentists were self-employed, and the majority of dentists worked in a private practice. About 20 percent of these dentists are specialists who limit their practices to orthodontics, aerodonetics, public health dentistry, oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology. Dentist opportunities are also available in clinics, federal government facilities, hospitals, for the military, for research facilities, and teaching institutions. Employment for dentists is projected to grow as fast average nationally. In some states there are higher demands for dentists.

How much does a Dentist make – Dentist Salary and Wages

On the Dentist salary range, most dentists earn approximately $116,000 to $161,000 annually. Salaries depend upon location, specialization and amount of experience the dentist has. A dentist’s income is in the highest five percent of the United States family income. Bonuses for the Dentist salary range are rather low, with around $1,000 available. Other benefits include pension, 401k, healthcare, and more, which have an impact on the Dentist salary range a well.

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