Dentistry Career Paths

Dentists diagnose and treat problems in the mouth, teeth, and gums. To avoid issues like cavities and gum disease in the future, they offer instruction and advice on dental care. The dentist can repair or remove broken teeth, make molds for dentures and other oral prostheses, and take a deep clean scale and plaque underneath the gum line. Dentists usually work with other dentists in a practice setting. To provide comprehensive patient care, they have a team of hygienists and other office personnel working for them. Some Dentistry career paths choose to focus on one or more specific practice areas. Others, in contrast, provide general care and, when required, send patients to experts.

Education Requirements in dentistry career paths

Before enrolling in dental school, all applicants must have finished particular science courses, such as biology and chemistry. Most dental programs require students to have at least a bachelor’s degree, but no specific major exists. However, majoring in a science such as a biology increases the chances of acceptance. Requirements vary by school. 

Before engaging in any of the nine dental specialties, dentists must finish further training. In a program with a specialist focus, this training often lasts for two to four years. Following dental school, general dentists don’t require any extra training.

Career Opportunities for dentistry career paths

Employment change as a percentage from 2016 to 2026: 17% (much faster than average)

(7 percent is the average growth rate across all occupations).

Licensed/certified

Dentistry Career Paths

The state in which a dentist practices must provide them with a license. Dentists must hold a license in every state; the requirements differ by state. Most states demand that dentists complete written and practical national board examinations and graduate from an authorized dental school. 

Average Salary: How Much Do Dentists Make? 

$159,770 annual salary, $76.81 an hour

What do dentists do?

Dentists usually do the following:

  • Remove tooth decay and fill cavities
  • Repair broke or chipped teeth and remove teeth
  • Place sealants or whitening agents on the teeth
  • Apply anesthesia to prevent pain during the procedure
  • Prescribe antibiotics or other medications
  • Check x-rays of the teeth, gums, jaw, and surrounding areas to detect problems
  • Create models and measurements for dental appliances such as dentures to fit patients
  • Educate patients on diet, flossing, fluoride use, and other aspects of dental care.
  • X-ray equipment, drills, mouth mirrors, probes, forceps, brushes, and scalpels are just a few of the tools that dentists utilize. They also employ other computer technology like lasers and digital scanners.
  • Dentists in private practice also manage administrative responsibilities, such as bookkeeping, equipment, and supply purchases. Dental hygienists, dental assistants, laboratory technicians, and receptionists are all employees under their supervision.
Dentistry Career Paths

Work experience for dentistry career paths

A dental degree has a practical component that develops your clinical and technical skills. Although additional work experience is optional to improve your chances of getting a job, a few weeks of work shadowing or experience in a dental practice can demonstrate your commitment to the role.

Some degrees offer opportunities to join. It involves taking a year between your second and third year to study a science or other healthcare subject. It helps you develop your field of interest and focus on the direction of your career.

Many dental students contribute to charities that provide oral health advice to the community. Volunteering improves your transferable skills like communication, teamwork, and self-confidence.

Skills and knowledge need:

  • Knowledge of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Customer service skills
  • Physical skills such as movement, coordination, and agility
  • Thinking and reasoning skills
  • Pay attention to details and details
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Ability to use hands effectively.
  • English reading ability.
  • Competence with important software programs and a computer.

Dental Field Jobs

    Several dental field jobs are fulfilling and appealing to those who enjoy working with people and providing dental care. Here are jobs in the dental field, ordered from lowest to highest earning potential:

Medical Biller

    National average salary: $35,246 per year

Essential Duties: A medical biller works in a dental office to calculate and collect payments for procedures and treatments performed by the dentist and other staff. Their primary duties include updating patient information and records, preparing invoices, submitting bills to insurance companies, collecting payments, investigating claims denied by insurance companies, and applying insurance payments to patient accounts. A medical biller ensures that all treatments and procedures are billed accurately and promptly.

Education Requirements: You must have a high school diploma or the General Educational Development (GED) equivalence for this employment. Some dental offices need those who work as medical billers to have at least several years of work experience in this role. Although experience in medical billing is usually sufficient, a degree in a related field, such as a degree in business, accounting, or health administration, may also be desirable.

Medical receptionist

 National average salary: $38,967 per year

Essential Duties: A medical receptionist often works in a dental office to handle basic administrative and clerical tasks. These tasks include answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, greeting and checking in patients when they come into the office, assisting with filling out forms, and maintaining the appearance of the dental office, especially at the front desk. A medical receptionist is also responsible for documenting treatments and procedures, updating patient records, and keeping patient data confidential by local and national laws.

A high school diploma or GED equal is necessary for employment as a medical receptionist. Knowledge of medical procedures and terminology, certification in office administration or medical administration, and previous experience working in a dental office helped me obtain this position.

Dental Assistant

National average salary: $69,057 per year

Essential Duties: A dental assistant works alongside a dentist in providing oral care to patients and assists the dentist with any needs while performing procedures, treatments, and exams. Some typical duties include setting up the treatment room with tools and equipment, seating patients and preparing them for treatment, and answering patient questions. They sterilize tools, maintain patient records, provide patient education, ensure a clean and safe work environment, and maintain an inventory of dental office supplies.

Education Requirements: To work in this position, candidates typically complete a dental assisting program through a community college, vocational school, university, dental school, or technical institute. Most programs take nine to 11 months, but some schools offer accelerated options.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), an American Dental Association (ADA) division, provides accreditation for many dental assistant programs throughout the United States. Dental assistants can also take a certification exam through the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB), which allows them to become Certified Dental Assistants (CDA).

Dental Assistant

National average salary: $69,057 per year

Essential Duties: A dental assistant works alongside a dentist in providing oral care to patients and assists the dentist with any needs while performing procedures, treatments, and exams. Some typical duties include setting up the treatment room with tools and equipment, seating patients and preparing them for treatment, and answering patient questions. They sterilize tools, maintain patient records, provide patient education, ensure a clean and safe work environment, and maintain an inventory of dental office supplies.

Education Requirements: To work in this position, candidates typically complete a dental assisting program through a community college, vocational school, university, dental school, or technical institute. Most programs take nine to 11 months, but some schools offer accelerated options.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), an American Dental Association (ADA) division, provides accreditation for many dental assistant programs throughout the United States. Dental assistants can also take a certification exam through the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB), which allows them to become Certified Dental Assistants (CDA).

Dental hygienist

National average salary: $85,447 per year

Essential Duties: Dental hygienists provide preventive dental care to patients, including conducting exams, cleaning teeth, and educating them about good oral hygiene habits. Other duties include polishing teeth and removing plaque, reviewing and maintaining patient health records, and using X-ray equipment to take pictures of teeth and roots.

In some states, a dental hygienist may perform additional duties such as removing sutures, administering anesthesia during minor dental procedures, working with metal components, and filling sculptures to fill cavities in teeth. Dental hygienists must work under a licensed dentist.

Education Requirements: Working as a dental hygienist requires the completion of a high school diploma or GED equivalent, followed by a dental hygienist degree from an accredited university or college. Some dental hygienists have associate degrees, while others have bachelor’s degrees. It often depends on the state in which the dental hygienist works.

The Dentist

National average salary: $183,235 per year

Primary Duties: Dentists diagnose and treat diseases and conditions affecting the mouth, including the gums, teeth, and other parts. A dentist’s primary duties include performing oral examinations, analyzing X-rays and other images of the teeth and mouth, diagnosing oral diseases, and developing treatment plans. Dentists also perform cavity fillings, tooth extractions, permanent implants and crowns, and other oral treatments and procedures for patients.

Education Requirements: A dentist must obtain a bachelor’s and bachelor’s degree from an accredited dental school. Dental school takes four years to complete in a full-time program. After dental school, a dentist must pass a clinical and written exam to obtain their license, a requirement in all states.

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