Dentistry is one of the fastest growing, most lucrative careers in medicine today. The term dentistry encompasses many different specialties, from preventative care to cosmetic dentistry and the demand for dentists in all areas is expected to continue to increase as the public become more and more aware of the importance of good dental care not only for aesthetic reasons but for their overall good health.
In 2008 there were more than 141,900 individuals practicing as licensed dentists in the United States and according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the demand for dentists will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018.
The average salary for a dentist is certainly well over $100,000 in most cases and those who choose to go into very specialized areas or set up their own practices can earn considerably more.
What is a Dentist’s Life Really Like?
That all of course depends on the type of dentist they are. After a student has completed the basic training they need to become a licensed dentist they may choose to specialize. There are a number of dental specialties for new dentists to consider. A skilled general dentist may choose to study several specialties so that they can offer a number of different services to their patients. The main dental specialties are:
Orthodontists – Dentists who straighten teeth using devices that apply pressure, i.e., braces and retainers.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons – Specialists who perform delicate operations on the mouth and jaws.
Pediatric dentists – Dentists who specialize in treating children which can be very challenging but satisfying for the right person.
Periodontists – Professionals who treat gums and the bone supporting the teeth.
Prosthodontists – Dentists who replace missing teeth with dentures, bridges and crowns. These days they also perform implants so that teeth can be permanently replaced.
Endodontists - perform root canal therapy.
Public health dentists – Individuals who choose to work within communities to promote good dental health.
Oral pathologists – Professionals who specialize in the study of various oral diseases.
Of course to specialize dentists do have to undertake additional schooling in most cases but the professional, personal and financial rewards are often well worth the extra effort.
Dentists are Teachers Too
Dentists are also of course called upon to be educators, teaching their patients how to maintain the health of their teeth and gums between trips to the dentist’s chair. There are a number of dentists who earn a sizeable second income speaking about dental health at schools, colleges and various professional health conventions.