Career Development

How To Become a Dental Consultant: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn about the steps important to pursuing a career as a dental consultant, including education, skills, salary and more.

Dental consultants are professionals who provide guidance and advice to dentists on a variety of topics, such as practice management, marketing and dental technology. If you have experience in the dental industry and are interested in helping dentists grow their businesses, becoming a dental consultant may be the right career choice for you. In this article, we discuss what dental consultants do and how to become one.

What Does a Dental Consultant Do?

Dental consultants are dental professionals who work with dental practices to help them improve their overall operations. Dental consultants typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which may include any of the following:

  • Conducting on-site visits to assess a dental practice’s current procedures and policies
  • Identifying areas of improvement for the dental practice
  • Developing and implementing new systems and processes for the dental practice
  • Training dental staff members on new procedures and processes
  • Monitoring the progress of the dental practice after implementation of new systems and processes
  • Preparing reports detailing the findings of on-site visits and recommendations for improvement
  • Presenting findings and recommendations to dental practice owners and staff
  • Serving as a resource for dental practice owners and staff on best practices in the industry

Dental Consultant Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for a dental consultant is $87,550. However, salaries can vary based on factors such as experience, education, and geographical location.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the job outlook for dental consultants will grow much faster than average over the next decade. This is due to an aging population and the increased demand for dental services. As the baby boomer generation continues to age, they will require more dental care. Additionally, many people are now choosing to maintain their natural teeth rather than getting dentures.

How to Become a Dental Consultant

Here are several steps you should take to become a dental consultant.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in dental science or a related field

Dental consultants must have a bachelor’s degree in dental science, which includes coursework in chemistry, biology and math. Some schools offer this program as an associate degree or certificate. You can also earn a bachelor’s degree in another field and take additional courses to qualify for this career path.

During your undergraduate studies, you will learn about topics such as anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, nutrition and periodontics. This knowledge is essential for understanding how the human body works and what affects oral health.

2. Complete a dental residency program

After earning your dental license, you must complete a residency program in general dentistry. A general dentistry residency program typically lasts three years and provides hands-on training in all aspects of general dentistry. During this time, you may rotate through various clinics to gain experience working with patients under the supervision of experienced dentists.

During your residency program, you may also have the opportunity to shadow a consultant or other dental professionals to learn about their roles. This can help you decide whether consulting is an appropriate career path for you.

3. Obtain a license to practice dentistry in your state

Each state has its own requirements for obtaining a license to practice dentistry. Some states require you to pass an exam administered by the National Board of Dental Examiners (NBDE). Others may have additional requirements such as completing continuing education courses or submitting letters of recommendation.

The NBDE offers two exams, one for general practitioners and another for specialists. The general practitioner exam covers topics such as oral anatomy, radiology, pathology, pharmacology and patient management. The specialist exam focuses on more advanced topics in specific fields like endodontics, orthodontics and periodontics.

4. Gain experience working as a dentist

While you are in dental school, consider shadowing dentists to get experience working directly with patients. After graduation, you can take a job as an associate dentist where you work under the supervision of a senior dentist. This type of position allows you to gain hands-on experience and develop your skills as a practicing dentist. You may also choose to become a general practice consultant first before taking on more responsibilities as a full-time consultant.

5. Develop strong interpersonal and communication skills

Dental consultants must interact with a variety of people, from dentists and hygienists to patients. Therefore, it’s important for dental consultants to develop strong interpersonal and communication skills. You should be able to listen to others’ concerns and provide helpful feedback in a tactful manner.

You may also need to communicate complex information about products or services to your clients. It’s important to use clear language that everyone can understand.

6. Stay up to date on changes in the dental industry

The dental industry is constantly changing, and consultants must stay up to date on the latest developments. For example, new materials or techniques may become available that could benefit your clients. You should also be aware of any legislative changes that could affect dentistry.

For instance, in 2014, the ADA reported that a bill was introduced in Congress that would allow non-dentists to perform basic procedures such as teeth whitening. Consultants need to know how these types of bills might impact their business and what they can do to ensure they are operating legally.

7. Join professional organizations such as the American Dental Association (ADA)

The American Dental Association (ADA) is a professional organization that provides dental education and resources to dentists. Joining the ADA can help you stay up to date on changes in the dental industry and connect you with other dentists who may be looking for consultants. You can join the ADA as an associate member when you earn your license, then upgrade to regular membership after two years of practicing dentistry.


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