While dentistry is a branch of medicine that offers a lot in terms of the earning potential, the salary range could vary, depending on factors such as educational qualifications, field of specialization, work experience, employer, geographic location, etc. This CareerStint write-up provides information on the average salary of dentists.
Dentistry is a branch of medicine that is associated with the anatomy and development of teeth and gums. It also involves the treatment of conditions associated with the teeth and gums. General practitioners diagnose and treat dental problems and advise patients on ways to prevent such problems. They perform dental exams, fill cavities, and extract teeth. The fields of specialization within dentistry include dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral maxillofacial surgery, oral pathology, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics. Thus, the job description would depend on the subspecialty of dentistry.
Dentists can choose to work for established offices or could set up their own practice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the offices of dentist, specialty hospitals, and state government designations are amongst the highest paying industries. With the growing awareness about the link between dental health and overall health, availability of health insurance, and the increasing need for dental services in the elderly, the job of a dentist is financially rewarding. The following sections provide information on the average salary of a dentist.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dentists was USD 149,310 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. While the top 10% earned USD 187,200 or more, the lowest 10% earned less than USD 73,840. It must be noted that various factors affect the salary. The salary would vary, depending on the location, employer’s credentials, number of years in practice, hours worked, and specialty. In May 2012, the average salary of oral and maxillofacial surgeons and orthodontists was around USD 187,200 or more, whereas prosthodontists earned around USD 169,130. General dentists earned around USD 145,240, whereas dentists and all other specialists earned around USD 154,990.
According to the reports published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2014, the mean annual wage for dentists is USD 168,580. The annual mean wage in Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Louisiana, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania falls within the range of USD 201,220 and USD 248,250.
Mean Annual Wage for Dentists
The following table provides the mean annual wage for general dentists in the different states as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|New Hampshire||USD 218,230|
|New Jersey||USD 156,640|
|New Mexico||USD 187,920|
|New York||USD 164,030|
|North Carolina||USD 205,820|
|North Dakota||USD 183,600|
|Rhode Island||USD 183,180|
|South Carolina||USD 183,150|
|South Dakota||USD 164,590|
|West Virginia||USD 169,590|
High school students who aspire to become dentists should take up courses in biology, anatomy, chemistry, etc. Dental schools might show a preference for those who have majored in biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, statistics, etc. A bachelor’s degree is required before getting admission in a dental school. College undergraduates who plan to pursue dentistry are required to give Dental Admission Test (DAT) during the junior year. Dental schools require the students to take up subjects such as anatomy, local anesthesia, periodontology, and radiology. Also, the students will have to work with patients under the supervision of a licensed dentist.
In order to practice as a dentist, you will need to complete DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree from an accredited school. Additional training is required, if one wishes to specialize in one of the nine dental specialties. The training would last for 1-2 years, and also requires one to complete a residency. So, becoming a specialist would mean 2-4 years of additional education. Also, all dentists need to obtain a state license to be able to practice. They will have to pass the National Board Dental Examinations and a practical examination approved by the State’s Licensing Board.
In general, the job of a dentist involves the diagnosis and treatment of problems associated with a patient’s teeth and gums. Their job description includes treating tooth problems such as dental caries, cracked/fractured teeth, crooked teeth, bite-related problems, teeth discoloration, tooth extraction, root canal therapy, etc. The nature of their job would depend on the field they have specialized in. For instance, orthodontists straighten teeth by applying pressure to the teeth with braces or other appliances, whereas oral and maxillofacial surgeons operate on the mouth, jaw, teeth, gums, neck, and head. Periodontists treat the gums and bone supporting the teeth, whereas the task of replacing missing teeth with permanent fixtures (crowns and bridges) or dentures is performed by prosthodontists. During these procedures, the dentists have to prescribe medicines, examine X-rays, administer anesthesia, and use different types of equipment. Dentists also provide instructions on dental care, so as to help prevent dental problems. This includes instructions on brushing, flossing, use of fluoride, diet, etc. Dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental laboratory technicians also work under their supervision.
In general, there’s a great demand for dentists, and the job is financially rewarding as well. It has been observed that dentists in private practice earn more than employed dentists, but the earning potential depends on a host of factors. If you are an experienced dentist or specialist, you can surely expect to get lucrative offers in terms of salary.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and the aforementioned figures are subject to change.