Careers in Dentistry

Dental Careers

There are several careers in dentistry which offer an abundance of satisfaction. While each career area is unique, as a team, each provides excellence when it comes to administering the oral health care needs to a general public population.

Dental Research

Most dentists practicing today made their career decision in late high school or early college. It is never too soon or too late to begin planning career in dentistry. If your an international student looking to study in the US, read about the services of Kaplan, including the TOEFL exam. With Kaplan, you can be accepted into a US school before leaving your home country.

Dentistry is a rapidly changing and expanding profession, which involves disease detection, diagnosis, esthetics, surgical restoration and education.

  • Disease Detection: Dental providers are often the first healthcare professionals to recognize and identify a wide variety of diseases, which can range from hypertension to cancer.
  • Diagnosis: A dentist primarily diagnoses and treats problems affecting the teeth, tissue, tongue, lips and jaws. To assist them in their efforts, most dental providers utilize computers and magnetic resonance imaging.
  • Esthetics: Dentists help to improve a patient's appearance using a variety of cosmetic dental procedures.
  • Surgical Restoration: In order to repair, restore and maintain the teeth, gums and tissues that have been lost or damaged by accidents or diseases, dentists perform trauma surgery, implants, tissue grafts and laser surgery procedures.
  • Public Education and Prevention: Dentists and dental hygienists educate patients, as well as the general public, on the ways to achieve oral health and prevent disease.

While there are large number of administrators and support staff who have careers in dentistry, the primary dental careers include Dentist, Dental Hygienist, Dental Assistant and Dental Lab Technician. Each career in dentistry has its own educational requirements - some require certifications or licenses, while some careers in dentistry require both.

Trained dentists diagnose, prevent, and treat problems with teeth, gums and mouth tissue. They remove and replace tooth decay, extract, straighten or replace missing teeth and perform a variety of dental surgeries. They learn their skills in accredited dental programs for approximately 4 years before being eligible for a DDS license. While dental salaries can be as high as $300,000 per year, the average salary tends be around $150,000 annually.

Because each state has its own specific regulations regarding the responsibilities of a dental hygenist, their range of services vary. Some of the more basic services include taking and processing dental radiographs, removing calculus and plaque from tooth surfaces and applying cavity preventive agents. A high school diploma and college entrance test scores are usually required for admission to a dental hygienist school. The salaries for dental hygenists often vary by geographic location, employment setting, and years of experience. Dental hygienists who work for school systems, federal, state or public health agencies usually have substantial benefits. Dental hygienist careers are expected to grow much faster than average through 2020, in response to the increasing demand for dental care and an increased use of hygienists performing services that had previously been done by dentists.

Dental Assistant

Dental assistant jobs offer flexible work schedules. Sometimes confused with dental hygienists, dental assistants are licensed to perform different tasks. In addition to assisting dentists, they sterilize, prepare and handle dental instruments and materials. Other tasks may include taking and developing dental x-rays, taking impressions of teeth and performing office tasks. Dentist rely upon them to help patients feel comfortable before, during and after treatment. It takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental assistant. Most dental assisting programs take about a year to complete. Graduates receive certificates and become eligible for certification by taking the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam.

Studies revealed the annual median salary of dental assistants to be a little over $33,000.1 The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs in this field to increase by at least thirty-one percent by 2020. Benefits vary substantially by practice setting and may be contingent upon full-time employment.

Using the impressions and soft tissue provided by dentists, dental lab technicians create dental appliances like bridges, crowns, dentures and splints to help straighten and protect teeth. Qualified techs are skillful in using small hand instruments and paying close attention to details. Dental lab techs usually work 40 hours a week, and in some of the larger dental labs, be supervisors or managers. While experienced technicians may teach or work for dental suppliers, most look to opening one's own laboratory as the way toward advancement and higher earnings. Upon graduating from a dental technician program, a dental technician can volunteer to become a Certified Dental Technicians (CDTs) and specialize in one or more areas of dentistry.

Benefits of Careers in Dentistry

Dental Hygienist

Careers in dentistry offer a range of dentistry opportunities and experiences which includes: gratification and prestige of working in the health care field, job security, flexibility and personal satisfaction from helping other individuals. Overall, a career in dentistry offers you many avenues of oral health to explore, and if you work well with people and enjoy helping others, you can gain lifelong satisfaction. Mind you, the many people who choose a career in dentistry face a considerable challenges. The demands before, during and after dental school are many, but the rewards are great.

Careers in Dentistry - Financial Considerations

One major concern of individuals pursuing a career in dentistry is the cost. The average debt of a new dental graduate is about six months the average net income of dentists in the US. But, while a dental education can be expensive, it is within the reach of people from all economic backgrounds.

Financial assistance is available from a variety of sources. The American Association of Dental Schools (AADS) and the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) offer scholarships, as well as federal and private loans developed specifically for dental school students. Financial aid officers at each dental school can also assist you with more information.

Dental Lab Technician

I wish you much success with your career in dentistry. You have found what will be both a rewarding and challenging profession. Be certain to sign up for the Dental Clinic Manager E-zine for the latest news and information on Careers in Dentistry.

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1 Careers in Dentistry Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, (8/3/12).

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