Dentist Job Description:
Dentists examine patients' teeth and mouth tissue in order to diagnose and treat problems. Most are general practitioners, but some specialize by becoming:
Employment Facts for Dentists:
Dentists held about 141,900 jobs in 2008. Most were general practitioners (120,200), followed by orthodontists (7,700), oral and maxillofacial surgeons (6,700) and prosthodontists (500). There were 6,900 dentists working in other specialty areas.
Educational Requirements for Dentists:
To become a dentist one must attend a dental school
that is accredited by the American Dental Association
(ADA). To be accepted into one of the 56 (as of 2006) dental schools in the U.S., one must complete at least two years of predental education. Most dental school applicants have a bachelor's degree. All dental schools require applicants to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
. There is a great deal of competition for admission to dental school.
Other Requirements for Dentists:
After graduating from dental school, one must be licensed by the state in which he or she wants to practice. Individual states or licensing agencies administer written and practical exams which dental school graduates must take in order to become licensed. Candidates may take (and pass) the National Board Dental Examinations to fulfill the written part of the state licensing requirement.
Job Outlook for Dentists:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of dentists will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018, but outlook will vary by specialty. Employment growth for prosthodontists, for example, is projected to be faster
, through 2018, than it will be for all occupations requiring at least a master's degree.
Earnings of Dentists:
Salaried dentists earned a median annual salary of $142,090 in 2009. Many dentists, however are self employed, and earn considerable higher salaries.
Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much dentists currently earn in your city.
A Day in a Dentist's Life:
On a typical day a dentist may:
- remove decay from teeth and fill cavities;
- examine x-rays;
- extract teeth;
- apply sealants to teeth;
- administer anesthetics;
- prescribe medication;
- treat gum disease by performing surgery on gums and supporting bones;
- straighten teeth;
- take impressions of teeth in order to make models that will be used to make dentures to replace missing teeth;
Here are some duties performed by dentists who work in the nine specialties:
- Orthodontists straighten teeth using devices that apply pressure, i.e., braces and retainers.
- Oral and maxillofacial surgeons operate on the mouth and jaws.
- Pediatric dentists treat children.
- Periodontists treat gums and the bone supporting the teeth.
- Prosthodontists replace missing teeth with dentures, bridges and crowns.
- Endodontists perform root canal therapy.
- Public health dentists work within communities to promote good dental health.
- Oral pathologists study oral diseases.
- Oral and maxillofacial radiologists use imaging technologies to diagnose diseases in the head and neck.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Dentists on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos072.htm (visited on April 1, 2010).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Dentists, General, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/29-1021.00 (visited November 11, 2010).
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