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Occupation Profile

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Dentists, General
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Description: what do they do?
Examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums. May treat diseases of nerve, pulp, and other dental tissues affecting oral hygiene and retention of teeth. May fit dental appliances or provide preventive care.
Also known as:
Associate Dentist, Dental Surgery Doctor (DDS), Family Dentist, Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD), Dentist, Pediatric Dentist, General Dentist, Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Dentist/Owner, General Dentist/Owner

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
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    Transcript: Open wide! Dentists diagnose and treat problems that occur in teeth and the tissues of the mouth. Dentists use a variety of tools and equipment to fill cavities… repair broken teeth… and remove diseased teeth. To keep teeth healthy and strong, dentists remove plaque, and conduct check-ups after a hygienist cleans a patient’s teeth. They may also make models for dentures. Dentists advise patients on dental care, and encourage them to keep up with flossing and brushing. Dentists suit up in surgical masks, gloves, and safety glasses to protect themselves from infectious diseases. When they’re not working with patients, they supervise dental hygienists, assistants, and lab technicians, and manage business aspects of their practice. Many dentists set up their own private practices, or work in already-established practices. Others work in hospitals, clinics, and research facilities. Weekend and evening hours may be necessary to accommodate patients’ schedules. Physical stamina, good dexterity, and patience, are important qualities for dentists. Students considering a career in dentistry need to complete biology and chemistry courses in college, and take the Dental Admission Test. They must earn a doctoral degree from dental school, then obtain a dentistry license. It’s a long road to becoming a dentist, but helping people maintain oral health can make dentistry a very rewarding profession.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.

This occupation is:
  • Expected to grow much faster than average


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET’s Bright Outlook occupations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
United States
132,800
2016 Employment
158,500
2026 Employment
19%
Percent change
6,400
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016, the number expected to be employed in 2026, and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2016-26.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Dentists, General in United States
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationUnited States
10%$72,810
25%$107,440
Median$151,850
75%$208,000+
90%$208,000+


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    Also note that in this update, 21 detailed occupations found within the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) were replaced with 10 new aggregations of those occupations; read more about these OES changes.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2018 data. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Doctoral or professional degree
  • No work experience
  • No on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find apprenticeship sponsors" you'll find information that can help you locate apprenticeship opportunities in your state:

    • If there are businesses that have sponsored apprenticeships in this field in the past, you'll find their name and contact information.
    • If there are related occupations that might have apprenticeship opportunities, you'll find links to that information.
    • You'll also see contact information for state and federal agencies that oversee apprenticeship programs.

    What is the source of this information?

    Apprenticeship information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships, and from CareerOneStop. Learn more at Apprenticeship Finder Help.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Protect patients or staff members using safety equipment.
  • Operate diagnostic imaging equipment.
  • Operate diagnostic or therapeutic medical instruments or equipment.
  • Examine mouth, teeth, gums, or related facial structures.
  • Administer anesthetics or sedatives to control pain.
  • Develop medical treatment plans.
  • Treat dental problems or diseases.
  • Diagnose dental conditions.
  • Prescribe medications.
  • Adjust prostheses or other assistive devices.
  • Design medical devices or appliances.
  • Advise patients on preventive care techniques.
  • Fabricate medical devices.
  • Operate on patients to treat conditions.
  • Supervise patient care personnel.
  • Analyze patient data to determine patient needs or treatment goals.
  • Direct healthcare delivery programs.
  • Design public or employee health programs.
  • Prepare healthcare training materials.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.
  • Time Management - Managing your time and the time of other people.
  • Active Learning - Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.
  • Service Orientation - Looking for ways to help people.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Understanding people's reactions.
  • Persuasion - Talking people into changing their minds or their behavior.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems.
  • Coordination - Changing what is done based on other people's actions.
  • Management of Personnel Resources - Selecting and managing the best workers for a job.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Finger Dexterity - Putting together small parts with your fingers.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - Keeping your arm or hand steady.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Control Precision - Quickly changing the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
  • Manual Dexterity - Holding or moving items with your hands.
  • Selective Attention - Paying attention to something without being distracted.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Category Flexibility - Grouping things in different ways.
  • Multilimb Coordination - Using your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down.
  • Flexibility of Closure - Seeing hidden patterns.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Social - Occupations with Social interests frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. Most involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Investigative - Occupations with Investigative interests frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They often involve research and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Use masks, gloves, and safety glasses to protect patients and self from infectious diseases.
  • Examine teeth, gums, and related tissues, using dental instruments, x-rays, or other diagnostic equipment, to evaluate dental health, diagnose diseases or abnormalities, and plan appropriate treatments.
  • Administer anesthetics to limit the amount of pain experienced by patients during procedures.
  • Use dental air turbines, hand instruments, dental appliances, or surgical implements.
  • Formulate plan of treatment for patient's teeth and mouth tissue.
  • Diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, or malformations of teeth, gums, or related oral structures and provide preventive or corrective services.
  • Write prescriptions for antibiotics or other medications.
  • Design, make, or fit prosthodontic appliances, such as space maintainers, bridges, or dentures, or write fabrication instructions or prescriptions for denturists or dental technicians.
  • Advise or instruct patients regarding preventive dental care, the causes and treatment of dental problems, or oral health care services.
  • Fill pulp chamber and canal with endodontic materials.
  • Treat exposure of pulp by pulp capping, removal of pulp from pulp chamber, or root canal, using dental instruments.
  • Remove diseased tissue, using surgical instruments.
  • Manage business aspects such as employing or supervising staff or handling paperwork or insurance claims.
  • Analyze or evaluate dental needs to determine changes or trends in patterns of dental disease.
  • Apply fluoride or sealants to teeth.
  • Eliminate irritating margins of fillings and correct occlusions, using dental instruments.
  • Perform oral or periodontal surgery on the jaw or mouth.
  • Plan, organize, or maintain dental health programs.
  • Bleach, clean, or polish teeth to restore natural color.
  • Produce or evaluate dental health educational materials.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

Other resources

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.