Professions Offered on the Path of Dentistry


This paper will contain information such as what a dentist is and what they do, what it takes to become a dentist, what it’s like being a dentist and what the salary a person going into dentistry can expect. This paper will go in depth in each of the previously stated topics. It will give a great overview of all one could want to know about the profession itself. Not only will it give information for dentist across the United States but give information to dentistry in the NJ and Philadelphia area.

Finally, the information will also talk about working conditions and working environments of previous years through the oncoming year of 2022.

What is a Dentist?

According to Merriam Websters Dictionary, a dentist is a person of occupation that treats and cares for patients’ mouth such as, gums and teeth (“Dentist.” n.d.). There are many different levels in dentistry but most of the people with the specific occupation as a dentist specifically extract and repair teeth.

However, when necessary they also install artificial teeth for patients, which is prosthodontics. In the dentistry world, there are eight to nine different degrees for specialized dentistry which include; Pediatric Dentistry, Oral and Maxillofacial Care, Orthodontics, Periodontics, Prosthodontics, Endodontics, Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienist, and Dental Technician.

Each of the above professions is responsible for different job duties. A pediatric dentist is responsible for mainly exams and six-month checkups for patients under the age of 18. Many people see oral and maxillofacial care/surgeons in their lifetime.

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They are the dentists that remove teeth such as wisdom teeth and any surgery with the mouth that involves general anesthesia and intravenous sedation. An orthodontist specializes in correcting a patients bite and straightening their teeth using braces, retainers, aligners etc. Periodontitis, on the other hand, works with patients with diseases of the gums and jaw bones (“2018 Accreditation Standards for Periodontics Programs.” 1992, December). Endodontists treat patients with problems of the tissues of the oral area. While many people do not know that there is a difference between dental assistant, dental hygienists, and dental technicians they are very different jobs and the responsibilities vary for each of them. Dental assistants help provide assistance to the dentists to ensure patients are comfortable and get the small tasks done for the dentist such as X-rays, instructions for oral care, and asking patients about medical history. Dental hygienists also take and develop x rays but they also do teeth cleaning, teach patients proper oral hygiene and chart information. Finally, dental technicians make fixtures for teeth such as dentures, crowns, veneers, and bridges.

Educational Requirements

There are many educational requirements to become a dentist for it is one of the most rigorous majors to be in. Before applying to a Medical school, one must go to an Undergraduate/Graduate school to receive a bachelors degree in a major in Pre-Dental or science based degree, like biology. For Medical School applicants, they are typically required to take the Dental Admission Test, (DAT), to help make a decision on who gets accepted and who unfortunately does not (“Summary.” (2018, April 13)). Not only do applicants need to take the DAT, but they also need to have an above average grade point average, (GPA), letters of recommendation, and they will need to complete an interview with the school they are applying to. If someone is interested in being a Pediatric Dentist, a good minor or major to study would be pediatrics, an alternative option would be to partake in a residency at a pediatric dentist office. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons require an additional four years of education and training on top of the dental school, which they can often major in anesthesiology. Orthodontist requirements are identical to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon without the major in anesthesiology, a major to consider would be biology or chemistry (“2018 Accreditation Standards for Orthodontics Programs.” 2003, April). Periodontics requirements consist of the basic bachelor’s degree with a major of chemistry or biology and a four year accredited dental school to obtain a DMD or DDS. Steps to becoming a prosthodontist are the same as periodontics but also one needs to complete residency training to obtain certification.

Endodontics requires a degree in dentistry long with postgraduate training. Compared to the previous professions, Dental Assitance is a decreased time period. Many of them receive their education from community colleges and vocational schools. Dental Hygienists only need an associates degree while Dental technicians only need a high school diploma or the equivalence to one. There are many local schools in that offer theses curriculums such as; Cumberland County Techincal Educational Center, Cumberland County College, Stockton, Rowan, Rutgers and many more. Another important part of picking a specific job to specialize is in is the list of duties, which each profession varies. Some of the professions are a lot easier than others and are not as hands-on.

Certification, Registration, and Licensing Requirements

The most common requirement to be in dentistry is to be licensed from an accredited university or school. To become licensed in dentistry, the student needs to pass the National Board Dental Examinations which consists of two multiple choice sections. Part one of the test covers the basics of ethics, anatomy, and biomedical science. Part two covers more in-depth of patient management and clinical dental subjects. Finally to become licensed each student must pass a clinical examination (“Dentist Licensing and Certification.” n.d.).

Working Environments

Many people in dentistry work together to create an easy flowing work environment. Even when the professional works in their own office, they will most likely work with others in their field to help a specific patient. This is when teamwork and communication are important because if they fail in one part, the patient will have a less successful experience. For example, Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons often keep in touch with Pediatric dentists and primary dentists to know a patient’s past medical history and current medical history. Depending on the profession in the field you may work in a drive dental office, clinic, hospital, etc. As a dentist, there is both sitting and standing, which depends on the procedure or examination that they are practicing. A dentist works on average about 36 hours a week, while dental hygienists work an average of 30 hours a week. Many dentists own their own clinic which means they often may have a minor in business so their entrepreneurship skills are stronger. (“Dental Assistant.” n.d.) Entrepreneurship skills are important because it will give more job opportunities to people in the community, increase the financial status of the individual, and advance the professionals knowledge in education and health sciences.

Employment Opportunities

Within the last month, there have been 21 job postings on for wanted dentists and nine postings for dental hygienists in Cumberland County (“Dental,” n.d). About 480 postings fro wanted dentists and 210 for dental hygienists in the New Jersey and Philidelphia area. According to in 2017 New Jersey and Philadelphia have unemployment level of between 2,780 and 17,130 for general dentists (“Summary.” 2018, April 13).

Salary Ranges

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2017, the median annual wage for a general dentist is $151,440. The median salary of oral and maxillofacial surgeons and orthodontists is $208,000+. Prosthodontists median annual salary is $185,150. The median pay for a dental hygienist is $74,070. (“Summary.” 2018, April 13). The salary is very dependent on the area in which the person works if they own their own business, and what their specific profession is in. The more education and experience someone has, the more they will potentially make and the more their patients will trust them.

Professional Organization

There are many different professional dental organizations but a few that stand out the most are Academy of General Dentistry, American Association of Orthodontists, and American Dental Association. The Academy of General Dentistry is a nonprofit organization that will benefit the public by raising awareness about issues that are important to the subject of General Dentistry. Member requirements are either a dental student, new dentist, mid-career dentist, experienced dentist or a fellow/master (“Acadamy of General Dentistry, ”n.d.). The American Association of Orthodontists is an association that provides information to its members about orthodontics and orthodontists. To be a member you must specialize in dental and racial irregularities (“American Association of Orthodontists,” n.d.). The American Dental Association is an association of dentists that strive to continue learning and, developing research to better the Dentistry Field. To be a member of this association you must be a private or corporate dentist, graduate student, federal dental (“American Dental Association,” n.d.). Services, or international or practicing abroad.

In summary, dentistry is a career that will alway be needed. It is needed for the basics of life and the hygiene of people. By 2026 dentistry employment is projected to grow up to 19% (“Summary.” n.d.). As the population of the world increases the need to dentistry is also going to increase. Anyone that is interested into the field of dentistry can commit easier knowing there will always be a need for dentistry. Due to the various number of specializations, there is an endless amount of options for a healthcare professional to choose as their passion, their job. Since the New Jersey, Philidelphia area is growing at such a high rate the need for dentists is also rapidly increasing which makes it great for people in this area to find a job in this field.

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Professions Offered on the Path of Dentistry. (2022, Feb 05). Retrieved from

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