Working in Dentistry: 5 Career Paths to Consider

Dentistry is a compelling medical field that involves more than caring for a patient’s teeth. Dental specialists are qualified to diagnose and treat a wide range of issues, including problems that affect a patient’s neck, head, jaw and gums. Oral healthcare is crucial for a person’s overall well-being. Individuals who do not have good dental care can develop diseases in their digestive system and respiratory system. There are also many other health problems that patients can develop without quality dental treatment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports dentists and dental specialists are enjoying average to above average job growth rates, which means there are opportunities in this field. The BLS also indicates that opportunities for dental hygienists and dental laboratory technicians are expected to increase 11% from 2018 to 2028, which is more than double the projected average job growth rate for all occupations. If you are thinking about a career in dentistry you can anticipate strong job growth in a wide range of dental health careers that you can consider.

1. Pediatric Dentist


A pediatric dentist specializes in treating children and individuals with special needs. They must earn a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree, obtain a license and be good at working with children. They may see patients who need to have a check up or get their teeth cleaned. Pediatric dentists can order X-rays to determine if there are issues with the way adult teeth are growing. They may extract teeth that are impacted or decayed. Pediatric dentists are also qualified to fill cavities. reports their median income as of February 2020 is $157,205.

2. Prosthodontist


A prosthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on repairing and replacing damaged teeth. Patients who need dental implants, bridges and dentures can be referred to these experts. A person who is missing teeth can pursue restorative dentistry in Dexter, MI to regain oral functions that may be affected by the missing teeth and restore the appearance of their mouth. After earning a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a DMD degree, these specialists must complete several additional years of training to work in their field. As of 2020 their median annual salary was $153,980.

3. Dental Lab Technicians


Dental laboratory technicians are dentistry professionals who can learn their craft through on-the-job training. It’s also an option to earn a postsecondary certificate or associate’s degree to prepare for this career. Dental lab technicians are the people who make dental appliances such as crowns or dentures based on the patient specifications they are provided. They mold and shape materials to produce the dental appliances that patients need. In January 2020, reported that these professionals earned an average income of $34,769 per year.

4. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons


Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are dental specialists who operate to resolve issues in the neck, head and mouth. They can treat facial pain and repair issues, such as a cleft palate. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons can also remove teeth. They also treat issues in a patient’s gums. After an examination, patients who receive an Orofacial Pain Diagnosis can be presented with options for treatment and scheduled for surgery. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons need to complete a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree and several years of specialized training to work in this field. As of 2018 the median annual income for these dental specialists was $208,000.

5. Dental Hygienist


Dental hygienists play an important role in the dental health field. They examine patients and are trained to identify signs of gum disease, dental decay and other oral health issues. Dental hygienists are also qualified to provide some patient care. Tasks they perform include cleaning a patient’s teeth and teaching patients how to care for their teeth properly. There is high demand for qualified dental hygienists. These professionals need an associate’s degree and must also be licensed. In February 2020, reported their median income was $74,900 per year.