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Dental Hygienists Dental Assistants CAREERS IN DENTISTRY: BE A DENTIST
A Career as a Dental Specialist Dental Team Careers: DENTAL Hygienist Dental Team Careers: Dental Laboratory Technician




Why Choose Dentistry?
Compelling reasons to choose dentistry as a career

Need for Minority Dentists
There is a critical need in underserved communities



Why Chose Dentistry?

There are many compelling reasons to choose dentistry as a career.

  • Service to Others: Dentists help people maintain and improve their oral health, quality of life and appearance. They receive a great deal of personal satisfaction by providing an essential community health service, by educating future dentists and by doing valuable research. Dentists treat everyonethe healthy, the ill, the young, the elderly, the disadvantaged and those with special needs.

  • Balanced Lifestyle: Dentistry offers the flexibility to balance your professional life and personal life. You can choose to practice in a clinical setting with other dentists or own your own dental practicewhichever best fits your lifestyle.

  • Self-employment: Dentistry affords the opportunity to be one's own boss and own a dental practice. As independent entrepreneurs, dentists set and maintain their own regular hours.

  • Earning Potential/Demand: A dentist's average income is in the highest 5 percent of U.S. family income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The demand for dental care is projected to grow. As baby boomers age, they will continue to need preventive services and many baby boomers will require maintenance on existing dental work. Large numbers of dentists are expected to retire in the next 20 years, creating a need for new dentists.



  • Status and Prestige: Dentists are socially conscious, talented, civic-minded professionals who work with community leaders and other health professionals to promote oral health care. Dentistry has a distinguished history of leadership in improving world health.

  • Creativity: As artists, dentists combine keen visual memory, excellent judgment of space and shape and a high degree of manual dexterity in the delivery of patient services. Computer applications complement scientific knowledge and technical skills.

  • Variety: Dentistry is changing rapidly, creating many opportunities and challenges. Dentists treat a diverse group of patients in a variety of settings using a variety of techniques and procedures.

  • Detection of Diseases: Dentists are often the first health care providers to recognize and identify a number of illnessesincluding cancer and cardiovascular problems. Research suggests an increasing link between oral diseases and other health concerns.

  • Diagnosis and Treatment: Dentists diagnose and treat conditions affecting the teeth, tongue, gums, lips and jaws. Exciting technologies, such as digital radiography and laser systems, along with enhanced new materials and techniques, can be used to correct dental problems.

  • Surgical Restoration: Dentists perform trauma US Dental, place implants, graft tissue to repair, restore and maintain the teeth, gums, and oral structures that have been lost or damaged by accidents or disease.

  • Cosmetic Improvement: Dentists improve their patient's appearance by using a wide variety of modern dental materials and equipment to help patients feel better about their smiles.

  • Prevention/Education: Dentists educate patients and the general public on how to maintain oral health and prevent disease. Dental professionals play a leadership role in implementing community-based preventive programs, such as community water fluoridation, sealant programs or oral cancer screening.

  • Research: Dentists are involved as scientists to further the knowledge of oral diseases, treatment techniques and materials used to correct dental problems.

Need for Minority Dentists

There is a critical need in many underserved communities where minority and disadvantaged people are not getting the care they need. Only 12 percent of students entering dental school are minorities, while minorities make up 25 percent of the general population. Recent data shows that minority dentists treat a very high number of minority patients.

More underrepresented minority dentists (African American, Hispanic and American Indian)
are necessary to eliminate the barriers to oral care. This need is expected to increase as statistics indicate that 58 percent of the population will be comprised of underrepresented groups by the year 2050.

Minority students sometimes face barriers themselves in gaining higher education and obtaining a medical degree, such as a degree in dentistry. Below are first person accounts from two minority dentists who share some of the barriers they faced while pursuing their dental degree. Their reflections were provided to the ADA as a courtesy.


Be a Dentist: Career Mentoring





Mentoring Students (K-16) Interested in Careers in Dentistry

Would you like to:

  • Talk with a dentist in your community
  • Ask questions
  • Possibly observe first-hand (job shadow) a dental professional at work

Why Seek a Mentor

  • Mentors can help you understand dentistry (from the other side of the chair)
  • Provide guidance pursuing dentistry as a career


How to get Started

  • Contact the mentor coordinator for your area from the list of mentor coordinators below.
  • The mentor coordinator will refer you to a dentist in your area. Contact may take place via e-mail or phone and possibly include a job shadowing opportunity.

Suggested Questions

After reviewing the career information, it is helpful to for the student to create a list of questions to discuss with the dentist mentor. Here are just a few suggested questions:

  • How did you become interested in dentistry?
  • What kind of education is required to become a dentist?
  • What can I do in junior high/high school/college to prepare for a career in dentistry?
  • How and when would I apply to dental school?
  • How difficult is it to get into dental school?
  • What is the cost of a dental education?
  • What are the average earnings for a dentist (general practitioner and specialist)?
  • What kind of tools/equipment do dentists use?
  • What is the future need for dentists?
  • What is an average day like for a dentist in private practice?
  • Where else do dentists work?
  • Are all dentists self-employed?
  • From your experience, what would you recommend to someone who is considering dentistry as a career?
  • How or where else can I find information about dentistry?

It is suggested that a student write the dentist mentor a thank you letter for sharing his/her knowledge and experience.

How to Get Started

If you're interested in talking to a dentist mentor contact the participating state dental association /dental school in your area and ask for the mentoring coordinator. The mentor coordinator can refer you to a local dentist mentor who will get you started with the program.

Mentor Coordinator Contact Info

Dental Society/School

Phone Number

Arizona Dental Association


Butte-Sierra District Dental Society, (CA)


Chicago Dental Society


Connecticut State Dental Association


Florida Dental Association


Illinois State Dental Association


Louisville Dental Society, (KY)


Medical College of Georgia


Mississippi Dental Association


Montana Dental Association


Muskegon District Dental Society, (MI)


New Mexico Dental Association


New York State Dental Association


New York University College of Dentistry


North Carolina Dental Association


North Dakota Dental Association


Philadelphia County Dental Society, (PA)


Temple University School of Dentistry

215 -707-2801

University of Iowa College of Dentistry


University of Southern California School of Dentistry


University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, (CA)


Virginia Dental Association



Be a Dentist: Dentistry Career Options



Dentistry offers stimulating career options. In addition to private practice, excellent opportunities exist in teaching and research, careers with government agencies or in industry.

  • Private Practice: Many dentists work either in solo private practice or in partnerships with other dentists. The majority of private practice dentists own their practices.

  • Academic Dentistry: An academic dentistry career combines teaching, research, community service and patient care. Faculty members work in an intellectually stimulating and exciting academic environment. Career opportunities for academic dentists are excellent at this time. Additional information is available at the American Dental Education Association's (ADEA) web site,

  • Public Health Dentistry: This career focuses on community settings rather than private practice. Promoting dental health, developing health policy and preventing disease are the major roles of a public health dentist. Numerous opportunities exist in research and teaching within public health dentistry. The U.S. Public Health Service offers dentists an opportunity to provide dental care in unique cultural environments (e.g., an Indian Reservation, Coast Guard base, or Federal Prison).

  • Research: Research careers offer opportunities to generate new knowledge and be on the cutting edge of scientific discoveries that ultimately impact patient care. Some of the latest research improving patient care includes lasers in US Dental, implants to replace damaged bone and computerized x-rays. Many researchers are faculty at universities while others work in federal facilities, such as the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), or in private industry. A career in research requires an advanced degree or additional training beyond the dental degree.

  • International Health Care: Dentists provide services to populations abroad and work for such agencies as the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Many dentists volunteer to bring dentistry to aid people in third world countries.

  • Hospital dentistry: Hospital dentists treat patients with medical conditions and disabilities alongside physician colleagues, often in operating rooms and emergency departments. Hospital dentists usually have a strong interest in medicine and collaborative care and have spent a year or more training in a hospital-based setting after dental school.
Dental Hygienists Dental Assistants CAREERS IN DENTISTRY: BE A DENTIST
A Career as a Dental Specialist Dental Team Careers: DENTAL Hygienist Dental Team Careers: Dental Laboratory Technician
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