Dentist Salary

Dentist SalaryDentists look after patient’s oral hygiene. They use many different tools to perform a variety of preventative and restorative dental procedures. Not only is the profession growing rapidly, dentists are also very well compensated for their services. How much does a dentist make? Read on, as this article provides a brief overview of the job; discussing dentist salaries, key responsibilities, a typical work environment and job prospects.

What is the salary of a Dentist?

Dentistry boasts some of the highest annual incomes across all professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dentists enjoy an average salary of $166,810 per year, or $80.20 per hour. The top 10% of earners make $187,199 p annually, whereas the lowest 10% earn $69,910.

Several factors contribute to annual income. Firstly, wages increase proportionally with job experience. Those new to the profession can expect a starting salary around [Starting Salary, $100,000], almost 35% lower than the average income. Earnings also vary on state; the top 5 paying states are Delaware, New Hampshire, Alaska, North Carolina and Vermont. Lastly, annual salaries increase if dentists opt to specialise, as this requires them to spend longer in education.

In addition to an excellent income, full-time dentists are offered generous benefit packages. These include social security, investment plans, health care, and pension schemes.

Job Description

Dentists evaluate patient’s oral health, and provide treatment if necessary. Prior to a dental appointment, they will typically review the patient’s medical records, checking how long it’s been since their last visit, and what treatments were given. Using a variety of instruments, they then survey the patient’s teeth, gums and mouth tissues to check for signs of infection or decay.

Based on their findings, dentists may have to fill in cavities, remove plaque, or even remove teeth in extreme cases. They often need to administer local anesthetics to temporarily numb areas of the patient’s mouth, allowing them to perform surgical procedures without causing pain. General dentists may refer patients to specialists to treat more complex issues. For example, a child with misaligned teeth may be referred to an orthodontist, who specialises in repositioning teeth to correct bite mechanics.

Dentists also carry out administrative tasks, although the majority of these are completed by dental assistants. They also educate patients on various aspects of oral hygiene, such as diet, flossing, and hygiene products.

Work Environment

The vast majority of dentists work in clinics or hospital settings, which are clean, well-lit environments. When treating patients, they wear protective clothing such as gloves and face masks to prevent infections spreading. In addition to treatment rooms, dentists also spend time in offices to fill-out forms and update medical files.

Hours vary depending on employer. Some dentists run their own practice, and will typically work longer hours than those working for larger organisations. That said, with such high demand for dental services, most dentist schedules are fully booked, especially in metropolitan areas. Consequently, most enjoy full-on work weeks, clocking up around 40 hours per week. Younger, inexperienced dentists tend to work longer hours, whereas more experienced professionals often cut back on their hours. Many dentists continue to practice past retirement age, working part-time.

Dentistry boasts high job satisfaction, which is one of the reasons why many dentists choose to retire later than in other professions. In a survey based on 223 votes, the profession was rated 5/5 for job satisfaction (PayScale). This is attributed to being in a career based on helping others, as well as close interactions with colleagues – dentists spend most of their time alongside hygienists and dental assistants.

Statistically, your dentist is more likely to be male than female. Almost 70% of dentists are men, whereas only 30% of jobs are occupied by women.

How to become a Dentist

All states require dentists to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but most require graduation from an accredited dental school in addition to passing state licensing exams.

Dental school programs are notoriously competitive to enter. With a high number of students competing for a limited number of places, entrance requirements are demanding. Most schools require applicants to have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree from a scientific program, such as chemistry or biology. Additionally, schools have entrance exams which prospective students must pass.

Dental programs are typically 4 years long. The curriculum is broken down into classroom and practical learning. Students take courses including local anesthesia, oral anatomy, oral diseases and radiology. All students gain hands-on experience from work-placements, which involves working with patients under a licensed dentist’s supervision.

Upon graduating dental school and passing state licensing exams, you are able to practice as a general dentist. Many opt to specialise in fields such as orthodontics, prosthodontics or oral pathology. Specialisation requires you spend 1-2 years in residency gaining further experience. Becoming a licensed specialist may require one to pass further state examinations.

Job Outlook

Dentistry is experiencing a growth in employment opportunities. Dentist jobs are expected to increase by 16% between 2012 and 2022 according to BLS. Several factors are fueling demand.

Due to better general oral hygiene levels, current generations are keeping more of their teeth than their predecessors, meaning more dental care is needed. Furthermore, the demand for cosmetic dental procedures such as teeth whitening is growing rapidly. As technological developments make these treatments quicker, less invasive and more affordable, the demand for dentists will sky rocket.

As with all professions in health care industries, job prospects are sensitive to current health care policies.  Increases in dentistry funding will reduce out-of-pocket expenses for patients, meaning more people take advantage of dental services.

Related Careers

Orthodontists are dentists who specialise in re-aligning patient’s teeth, to correct biting mechanics. This is achieved using a variety of devices, such as retainers and braces. Orthodontists interpret mouth X-rays and photographs, determining the best way to achieve straightened teeth. Strong problem solving skills and analytical thinking are key traits needed for the job. In 2013, orthodontists earned an average of $196,000 (BLS).

Medical doctors treat and diagnose various illnesses and diseases. They use a variety of tests and examinations to identify the patient’s medical condition. They then design treatment plans and prescribe medication to promote recovery. Becoming a doctor involves graduating from medical school. The average annual income of medical doctor’s in 2013 was $187,000 (BLS).

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