Dentistry

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Earnings Potential

Median annual earnings of salaried dentists were $129,920 in May 2004. Earnings vary according to number of years in practice, location, hours worked, and specialty.

Facts at a glance

  • Most dentists are solo practitioners.
  • Dentists usually complete at least 8 years of education beyond high school.
  • Employment is projected to grow about as fast as average, and most job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of dentists expected to retire.
  • Job prospects should be good.

What this Career Entails

A dentist diagnoses, treats and prevents problems dealing with teeth and the mouth. Specific duties include removing decay, filling cavaties, examine x-rays provided by dental hygeniests, placing protective plastic sealants on children’s teeth, straightening and repairing fractured teeth. Besides that, they also perform surgery on gums and bones around the gums if there is a disease. Other duties of a dentist include taking teeth out and measuring dentures to replace the missing teeth. A dentist also plays the role of a teacher by explaining to patients how to take care of themselves to avoid problems. The types of tools that a dentist uses includes x-ray machines, drills, mouth mirrors, probes, bushes, scalpers, and forceps. Dentists also wear masks, gloves and safety masks for protection.

Details and/or Examples of Work

A part of today’s dentistry is cosmetic dentistry, which is a procedure that provides clean teeth for those who undergo it. Another recent development in the dentisry field is digital dentistry, a function that dentists think will make creating impressions of teeth easier for themselves and their patients.

Degrees needed for a career in the field

All 50 states require dentists to be licensed. To get a license a prospective dentist must graduate from 1 of the 56 schools that are accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation. Afterwards the candidate must pass a written and practical examination. To get into a dental school a potential dentist must take the Dental Admissions Test. While most dental students have a bachelor’s degree, most dental schools require 2 years of pre-dental education.

Specific career openings in the field

Specific career openings in the dental field include dentist, orthodontist, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and prosthodontists, pediatric dentists, endodontists, public health dentist, oral pathologists, oral and maxillofacial radiologists.
References
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Dentists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos072.htm

  • Dentists usually complete at least 8 years of education beyond high school.
  • Employment is projected to grow about as fast as average, and most job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of dentists expected to retire.
  • Job prospects should be good.

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