Career Development

Dentist Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Dentists are the healthcare professionals responsible for our mouths. They provide treatment and advice on oral wellness, preventative care, dental hygiene, oral surgery, cosmetic dentistry, and more. Being a dentist requires a very specific set of skills that include not only physician-level training but also years of experience in the dental field itself.

Dentists are the healthcare professionals responsible for our mouths. They provide treatment and advice on oral wellness, preventative care, dental hygiene, oral surgery, cosmetic dentistry, and more. Being a dentist requires a very specific set of skills that include not only physician-level training but also years of experience in the dental field itself.

Dentists work closely with patients to understand their unique dental needs and desires. They then use their education, training, and experience to create a treatment plan for each patient that aims to manage any current problems and prevent future issues from arising.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a dentist and what it takes to become one yourself.

Dentist Job Duties

Dentists typically perform the following duties:

  • Examining patient teeth and gums to identify any signs of disease
  • Reviewing patient dental records and medical history to determine best treatment options
  • Creating a treatment plan for issues identified during the exam, including recommending treatment for oral conditions such as cavities or gingivitis, or surgical procedures such as wisdom teeth extraction
  • Preparing, sterilizing and setting up dental equipment for each patient visit
  • Administering local anesthetics to patients prior to performing dental procedures such as fillings or extractions
  • Inspecting and cleaning patients’ teeth using specialized tools, such as a pick or probe
  • Taking X-rays or digital images of teeth for diagnosis and treatment planning, with the help of a dental radiologist if necessary

Dentist Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for dentists is $166,391. Those earning higher wages tend to work in private practice and the top earners make over $261,000 per year.

The employment of dentists is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade. This is due to the rising demand for general dental care and services that promote oral health and wellness. As the population grows older, there will also be a greater need for dentists who specialize in helping seniors pursue treatments such as implants and cosmetic procedures.

Dentist Job Requirements

To become a dentist, candidates must meet the following requirements:

Education: Dentists must graduate from a dental school that is accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). The program takes four years to complete and includes classroom and clinical coursework. During this time, students learn the principles of dental care and complete clinical rotations at a variety of dental clinics. They also receive training in topics such as dental anatomy, diagnosis and treatment.

Training: Many dentists complete an internship or residency program after graduation. These programs are designed to prepare professionals for practicing in the field and may be required by some employers. 

Certifications & Licenses: Dentists must obtain a license to practice in the state where they plan to work. These licenses require candidates to pass an exam, as well as complete continuing education courses throughout the course of their career.

Dentist Skills

A dentist must have the following skills:

Communication skills: Dentists must be able to effectively communicate verbally with patients and other dental professionals. For example, they may need to explain complicated procedures. 

Teamwork skills: Dentists must work well in a team environment. They often work with dental hygienists and need to maintain good relationships with their team members. 

Organizational skills: Dentists must be well organized and able to manage large amounts of information efficiently. They must maintain detailed notes about their patients and be able to find tools easily. 

Problem-solving skills: Dentists must be able to diagnose problems with teeth and find solutions that will allow their patients to continue enjoying good oral health. 

Leadership skills: Dentists must be able to lead a dental team and instruct dental assistants and dental hygienists.

Physical stamina: Dentists must have physical stamina to stand for long periods of time, as well as to work with their hands

Dentist Work Environment

Dentists typically work regular workdays, but their schedules may include some evening and weekend hours. Dentists work in clean, comfortable, air-conditioned offices. They spend most of the day sitting at a chair, with some time spent standing or walking.

Dentists often work with assistants and dental hygienists. They also work closely with dental technicians who make crowns, bridges, dentures, and other pieces of dental equipment.

Dentist Career Advancement

When dentists are looking to advance in their careers, they may choose to specialize in an area of dentistry that fits their interests. For example, they might become an oral surgeon or an orthodontist. If they would like to manage a group of dentists, they may decide to become a practice administrator. They may also choose to start a practice of their own.

Practice administrators, dental directors, and practice managers all oversee the daily operations of a dental office. They make sure the staff is trained and prepared to meet the needs of patients. They also make sure that patients are satisfied with the quality of the office and the service they receive.

Dentist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how dentists work. Dentists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Digital Records

Digital records are an emerging trend in the dental field that will require both experience and education to implement.

This new technology requires extensive knowledge of oral health, as well as strong leadership skills in order to effectively work with other members of the dental team. 

New Technologies Allow for Simpler Treatment

Recent innovations in dental technology have made it easier than ever to address oral health issues. 

For example, advances in digital x-rays and software allow dentists to make 3D models of patients’ teeth and identify potential problems more quickly and easily than they could with traditional x-rays alone. These changes can make treatment more cost-effective for patients by reducing the number of visits needed, while also improving accuracy and efficacy.

The Rise of the Mobile Dentist

To meet the growing demand for dental care, more dentists are adopting mobile practices to reach out to patients in underserved areas and provide services at a lower cost.

Mobile dentistry can help combat issues like access to dental care and oral health education that plague many underserved communities, particularly in rural areas where there is often a shortage of dentists willing to take on low-income patients. 

How to Become a Dentist

1. Planning Your Career Path

When considering a career as a dentist, it is important to think about what type of environment you want to work in. Dental offices come in all shapes and sizes, from those that operate with just one or two dentists to those that employ dozens of professionals.

Dentists who work at smaller practices have more flexibility when it comes to scheduling appointments. They will also have the opportunity to learn from other professionals and build strong relationships with their patients. On the other hand, larger dental offices may offer more benefits and opportunities for advancement. However, this comes at the cost of increased bureaucracy and fewer face-to-face interactions with patients. It is important to consider your priorities before making a decision on where you want to work.

2. Writing a Resume

The best dental resumes highlight their personal qualities and education, as well as their experience and training. It is important to highlight your soft skills such as patience, compassion, and empathy.

It’s vital to include any relevant certificates you have obtained from accredited dental schools, as well as certifications from accredited organizations such as the American Dental Association. In terms of work experience, it’s important to provide details on your accomplishments, responsibilities, and technical skills that demonstrate your value.

When listing previous jobs, use language that is clear and concise. You may also want to list any additional responsibilities you had in addition to dentistry. It’s useful to describe instances where you demonstrated leadership or how you resolved a problem with a patient or a co-worker.

3. Applying for Jobs

Finding a job as a dentist can be challenging, but if you have an excellent dental school on your resume, the process becomes easier. Your degree will help you find a job, but networking is key to landing that first position. Start by getting involved in professional organizations, joining dental groups on Facebook, and attending local events. There are also sites like LinkedIn that are great for finding new contacts. If you are open to relocation, consider moving to areas with higher demand for dentists. Also, don’t forget to ask your current dentist if they know of any job openings; you may be able to get an insider’s perspective on companies in your area.

4. Ace the Interview

When interviewing for a dental position, you will want to be familiar with the current trends in dentistry. If you are not already, try to learn as much as you can about new research in general dental care, oral hygiene, and general dental health. 

As you prepare for your interview, it is also essential that you are able to explain your specific credentials well. Your interviewer will likely ask how your experience makes you well-suited to the position. Be sure to explain why your education and work history makes you especially qualified for the job.

It is important to demonstrate that you are enthusiastic about dentistry, but that you also recognize its complexities. You can do this by discussing what motivates you to improve the lives of clients through your work. It will be helpful if you can show passion for dentistry and express why it is important for people to take good care of their teeth.


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