Dentist Jobs

Training and Education Jobs and Salaries

Dentists hold over 160,000 jobs. Employment is distributed among general practitioners and specialists as follows: general dentists - 136,000, orthodontists - 9,200, oral and maxillofacial surgeons - 7,700, prosthodontists - 1,000, and all other specialists - 6,900. About one third of dentists are self-employed and not incorporated and almost all dentists work in private practice. According to the ADA, about three out of four dentists in private practice are sole proprietors, and one in seven belongs to a partnership. A few salaried dentists work in hospitals and offices of physicians.

Average employment growth will generate some job openings, but most openings will result from the need to replace the large number of dentists expected to retire. Job prospects should be good as new dentists take over established practices or start their own. Employment of dentists is projected to grow nine percent through 2016, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The demand for dental services is expected to continue to increase.

The overall population is growing, particularly the number of older people, which will increase the demand for dental care. As members of the baby-boom generation advance into middle age, a large number will need complicated dental work, such as bridges. In addition, elderly people are more likely to retain their teeth than were their predecessors, so they will require much more care than in the past.

The younger generation will continue to need preventive checkups despite an overall increase in the dental health of the public over the last few decades. Recently, some private insurance providers have increased their dental coverage. If this trend continues, those with new or expanded dental insurance will be more likely to visit a dentist than in the past.

Also, while they are currently a small proportion of dental expenditures, cosmetic dental services, such as fitting braces for adults as well as children and providing teeth-whitening treatments, have become increasingly popular however, employment of dentists is not expected to keep pace with the increased demand for dental services. Productivity increases from new technology, as well as having dental hygienists and assistants perform some tasks, will allow dentists to perform more work than they have in the past.

As their practices expand, dentists are likely to hire more hygienists and dental assistants to handle routine services. Dentists will increasingly provide care and instruction aimed at preventing the loss of teeth, rather than simply providing treatments such as fillings. Improvements in dental technology also will allow dentists to offer more effective and less painful treatment to their patients.

As an increasing number of dentists from the baby-boom generation reach retirement age, many of them will retire or work fewer hours however, the number of applicants to, and graduates from, dental schools has increased in recent years and therefore, younger dentists will be able to take over the work from older dentists who retire or cut back on hours, as well as provide dental services to accommodate the growing demand.

Demand for dental services tends to follow the business cycle, primarily because these services usually are paid for either by the patient or by private insurance companies. As a result, during slow times in the economy, demand for dental services can decrease; dentists may have difficulty finding employment, or if already in an established practice, they may work fewer hours because of reduced demand.

Median annual earnings of salaried dentists are about $137,000. Earnings vary according to number of years in practice, location, hours worked, and specialty. Self-employed dentists in private practice tend to earn more than do salaried dentists. Dentists who are salaried often receive benefits paid by their employer, with health insurance and malpractice insurance being among the most common however, like other business owners, self-employed dentists must provide their own health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits. Dentists examine, diagnose, prevent, and treat diseases and abnormalities. Chiropractors, optometrists, physicians and surgeons, podiatrists, psychologists, and veterinarians do similar work.