What is a dentist?
A dentist is a health care professional who provides preventative care and treatment for a patient’s mouth and teeth including the bones and muscles supporting or within the mouth. They are also the ones who diagnosis any problems a patient might have with their mouth and teeth. They are also referred to as Dental Surgeons and Family Dentist. If it is necessary a dentist will also refer their patients to other specialized dentists like orthodontists for more specialized procedures. Most dentists work with people of all ages but there are some that just work with children up to the ages of 18 and are called a pediatric dentist.
Job description of a dentist
Being a dentist you are expected to see patients of all ages in order to make sure that they have their oral needs covered. A dentist is also responsible for provided their patients any information that they need to help prevent any problems from happening to their mouth and teeth like how they can maintain good dental health, what food they should avoid, what type of toothbrush they should use, and more.
If a patient comes into their office with a disease that is affecting their mouth and teeth a dentist is expected to help them recover from it. The major components of the dentist job is to diagnosis, set up a treatment procedures for their mouth and teeth along with preventative care for them but there may be other jobs that they do like:
- Educating their patient on examining their own teeth to help detect dental conditions in the early stages so they can see the dentist to get it taken care of before it can cause any major problems.
- If they have their own practice it will be their job to train their staff as to what is expected of them when working in the dentist’s practice.
- To market their services to potential patients such as ads in the local newspaper, in the phone book, word of mouth, etc.
- To make sure that all the equipments is safe and in good working order.
- Going to schools to give students lessons in how to take good care of their teeth,
- Working with a mobile dentist going to different schools to see students who have no dentist or dental insurance to see a dentist on a regular basis.
How to become a dentist?
The first step is to get your high school diploma and while in high school taking as many science, like biology and chemistry, and math classes that you can. If you think that you are going to open your own practice you might consider some business courses also. Most dental schools require you to have a bachelor’s degree but there are some that do not. Check with the dental school that you are planning on attending to make sure. There are also some dental schools that will admit a student if they have 2-3 years of undergraduate study and let them complete their bachelor’s degree as part of their dental program. There is no particular pre-dental major required but you should make sure that you took classes in chemistry, biology, and physics.
Before you can apply to dental school you have to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). This test will assess your scientific knowledge and academic capacity. The dental school that you want to attend may have a minimum score that you have to make before you can get into the school so you want to make sure that you get a high grade. You could check with the dental school to see before you take the test. When gaining admission to a dental school they consider the DAT scores, letters of recommendations, GPA, and an interview they will conduct with you.
Once you are admitted to dental school it will take four years before you will have your Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). The programs may be accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). There are some states that require that you get your degree from approved program in order to get your state license which you can check to see what your state requires on the website of the Commission on Dental Accreditation. During the first 2 years you will focus on laboratory and classroom studies in dental and health science. Some of the classes you may take include periodontics, oral pathology, radiology, pharmacology, dental anesthesia, and orthodontics. During the other 2 years of dental school it will emphasize on clinical practice in which you will, under the supervision of dental instructors, diagnosis and treat patients.
Although the requirements can vary state by state all states require that you pass the National Board of Dentist Examinations, which is a 2-part written cover exam that covers clinical, and ethics procedures and dental sciences. You will also have to pass a practical examination that is approved or administered by the state’s licensing board where you are going to practice. Some states may also require prerequisites before allowing you to take the exam like CPR certification, first aid certification, an interview, or a background check.
Most dentists will typically practice as general dentistry practitioners but some will choose to specialize in a field of dentistry like orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, oral and maxillofacial pathology, and dental public health to name a few. There are a total of 9 specialties that are recognized by the American Dental Association’s Council on Dental Education and Licensure. If you decide to specialize it will take 2-4 more years of additional education. You may also be required to have a residency up to 2 years before you can earn your specialty state license.
When becoming a dentist you want to make sure that you have knowledge of dental anatomy and medical procedures, problem solving skills, patience, especially with the children who visit your practice, strong communications, and leadership skills. You will also need to have good manual dexterity, and physical stamina as dentist will often spend a long period of time bent over patients.
Work environment and schedule
Most dentists after getting their license work in private practice or a dental group practice, in dental research centers, educational institutes as teachers and instructors teaching the basics of dentistry, hospitals, clinics, and the military. When working as a dentist taking care of a patient you will be expected to wear gloves, masks, and any other protective equipment to help ensure the safety of themselves and their patients from the transmission of infectious diseases. Most dentists have a set schedule working Monday thru Friday but it depends on where they work just what the hours would be. Some dentists will open later on 1 or 2 days so they can work later in the evening to accommodate their patients. Some may even offer Saturday hours until noon. Many times the dentist will work 50 hours or more a week.
Depending on the work environment they may have patients who have called the office for an appointment or were referred to them by the patient’s primary care physician. Working as a dentist there are no two days the same. Basically during their day they can see as many as 20 or more patients but depends how much time is allotted for each patient according to the schedule that has been set up for various dental procedures and approximately how much time is to be allotted for that procedure.
When the dentist walks into the examination room many times the dental hygienist will already have the patient in the chair and ready for whatever procedure they are going to have that visit. It could be to have their teeth cleaned, a filling, wisdom teeth pulled, braces, repairing a broken tooth, etc. The dentist will also look at the x-rays if any have been taken. If they are licensed to perform surgery they may do surgical procedures like treating gum disease by correcting the gums and the surrounding structures. A dentist may also have to extract a patient’s few remaining teeth if they are bad in order to have dentures made. If the patient is getting dentures they will have a mold made of their gums so they can have then dentures made. In a few days or a week they will go back to the dentist to have the dentures fitted. It can take a few visits to get the fit right. The dentist may also replace crooked teeth with artificial ones or whitening of their teeth. If the patient has an infection from an impacted tooth or gum disease the dentist can prescribe an antibiotic and/or pain killer.
Some dentists will go to elementary school and talk to the children about good dental health and show them how to brush their teeth the right way using a large set of artificial teeth or they may go to the high school on career day to talk about being a dentist.
Pros and cons of being a Dentist
The dentistry industry has grown considerably over the past years. Also, the reputation, which is earned by a Dentist can be a positive one bringing respect and admiration. Still, like in any other job, before pursuing this career you should weigh the pros and cons and then decide.
The salary of a Dentist is considered to be one of the highest wages in the country according to each field of specialty. For instance, an orthodontist will make a salary that reaches $186,324 per year. At the same time, the professionals working as general dentists will earn an income of about $163,245 per year. With a salary so high quoted make sure first that you find out as well what are the educational requirements.
A dentist will need years of schooling, in order to be able to practice. The lengthy years can be too long for many people, not to mention that they will really have to gain a lot of familiarity and experience in the field of science. The majority of dental programs will require the students to finish a bachelor’s degree. After one has graduated from a dental program, the next application will be for a residency with a length of one or two years in one of the areas of specialty.
You also need a license to be able to practice, and you might need two or four additional years and then complete an exam. As for the job possibilities, there are plenty of choices within the nine areas of specialty that can be found in the Dentistry field. The job prospects along with the median salary of a Dentist are placing these professionals in the top place of health care lists. The volume of work is increasing every year and with it the number of demanding, people are always in need for these professionals since many want to have healthy teeth to live a healthy life.
At the end of your educational path and with all the degree taken you will probably end up being in financial debt since the costs for a school program can be pretty expensive.
Working as a Dentist can often be very demanding especially since you’ll have the necessary patience to bend over each patient and stay in uncomfortable positions for a long period. You’ll have various patients of all age categories, and you’ll have to calm them down and gain their trust especially if it comes to work with children that often have a fear of dentists. This job can be very stressful many times, and this can be considered as a con.
Dentist job growth
The employment job growth for dentists for the next five to ten years is projected at 9.5% rate. With the number of demand increasing, people especially the aging population and not only are in need of the aid of these professionals. Another factor is due to the access to health insurances that are on a constant base of increase.
With the baby boom population heading and advancing to the middle age, the need for complicated dental work such as bridges is increasing. In current years, the number of young graduates has increased leading to the fact that many younger dentists will be capable of taking over the work of those who retire or cut back hours.
On the other side, the employment outlook for dentists is not expected to be able to keep up with the increased demand for dental services. The rate of productivity is faced to increase from the new technology, as well as to be able to have more dental assistants and hygienists that are able to perform some tasks will allow dentists to handle more work than in the previous years.
With other words, the projected rate is faster than the average for all occupations since the number of demanding is continuously growing. The job stability in this field is very good with very satisfactory results.
In the United States dentists are among the best paid medical professional with average yearly starting salary $79.567, but as you get more experience it can be as high as $240,419. Some other average yearly dentist salaries are:
- $137,000–$221,000 if self-employed
- $106,823–$157,222 if a professional that are in private practices or working at a physician’s office.
- $84,596–$242,904 if you are a man
- $59,598–$178,772 if you are a woman
- $146,810 if working for the state government
- $138,640 if working at an outpatient care center
- $146,810 if working at a surgical and general medical hospital
- $142,030 if work in substance abuse and psychiatric hospitals
The top 3 highest paying average yearly dentist salary by state includes:
- $234,010 in New Hampshire
- $216,160 in Vermont
- $214,840 in Delaware
In addition to these salaries there is also the benefit package that you should take into consideration before accepting a dental job. Although the exact benefits depend on the employer most include paid vacation, sick, and personal days, life and health insurance that could include the dentist’s family, vision care, malpractice insurance, 401K, social security, pension plan, profit sharing, and more. If you are opening your own practice you will have to make sure that you have some type of benefit package for their employees. There are some employers that will reimburse you when you further your education or pay for a part of it. If you have specialized you could expect a higher salary. To ensure that you are receiving a good salary you should make sure that you are working in a larger city instead of a rural area.
Salary of a Dentist in 2015
The salary of a Dentist in US is recorded to have an average that reaches $146,925 per year that will depend mainly on many factors. For the year 2015 the salary of a Dentist is influenced by the area of specialty, in which he is working. The wage will also depend on the type of facility in which one is working and the years of experience mixed with the education that one has.
The rate of growing is mainly controlled by the number of cases that are increasing due to the aging population but also by other age categories.
Dentist Salary in 2016
The median income for dentists, in the US, for the year 2016 is estimated to reach an average of around $123,946 per year. The starting point in this salary is estimated at around $74,715 per year, and it can climb up to $232,686 per year.
To the actual dentist salary, there are added other benefits such as bonuses that can reach up to $25,706 per year, profit sharing that is comprised between $1,967 per year and up to $97,592 per year. The granted commission for these professionals can reach up to $174,526 per year. Other particular benefits that a dentist receives are pensions, social security, paid time off, and 401K contributions.
This leads in the end to a cumulative payment that has its starting point at $75,316 per year and up to $233,678 per year. The payment in this profession is increased the most by some of the particular set of skills such as Dentistry, General Dentist as well as General Dentistry, and General Surgeon.
Other factors that affect the income of these professionals, in the US, are the years of experience in the field, geographical location, and working site. Taking into consideration the geographical factor, the salaries of dentists depend on the costs of living, living expenses and the number of demanding. Each state provides various salaries according to the place of establishment.
For instance, in San Diego, the median income for these professionals is estimated at around $134,697 per year while in Portland the median payment is estimated to be at around $132,338 per year. On the other side, in New York, the median income is below the national average reaching at $101,998 per year.
Dentist salary in Canada, Australia and UK
- In the UK the average yearly salary for a dentist is £29,348—99,423 but there are also bonuses that can be as much as £8,170 along with a part of profit sharing around £6,500.
- In Canada the average yearly dentist salary ranges from CA$47,266—CA207,661 along with yearly bonuses that average $19,392.
- In Australia the average yearly dentist salary ranges from AU$59,492—AU$207,751 with an added yearly bonus of AU$19,189.
Conclusion on dentist salary
On average the yearly dentist salary in the United States is $146,920 but there are many factors to consider like years of working experience, your geographical location, whether you have your own practice or work for a group practice, work for the state government, if you are a man or woman, etc. If you have specialized in one of the nine specialties that are recognized by the American Dental Association your salary would be higher than if you were just a general dentist. It is a high paying medical/dental field and the salary is comparable to the number of years that you have to go to school to become a dentist. There is also the great benefit package that can be included in your salary offer when looking for a job if you are not going to go into private practice at that time.
- First Published Date: 15 July, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 20 August, 2016