Future Dentists

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Some people make career decisions while in high school, others in college and still others after working for a number of years. No matter when you make the decision, it can and will impact your life and the type of work you do. Dentistry is an exciting career and offers many unique opportunities to treat and engage with patients. Review the information here to learn more about the opportunities in dentistry and how to plan and prepare your pathway to a rewarding career.

Advances in dental research, including genetic engineering, the discovery of links between oral and systemic diseases, the development of salivary diagnostics and the continued development of new materials and techniques, make dentistry an exciting, challenging and rewarding profession.


  • The U.S. News & World Report listed Dentist as the #3 profession in its “100 Best Jobs” list in 2014.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of general dentists and specialists will grow 21% through 2020. 

    With population growth, changes in health care law and the upcoming retirement of a large group of dentists educated during the 1960s and 1970s, the need for new dentists is rapidly increasing. Practicing dentist-to-population ratios vary widely, but range from roughly 42 to 108 dentists per 100,000 people, according to the American Dental Association.  

    As a dentist, you will be able to...

    • Restore the oral health and transform the lives of your patients.
      Whether it is providing preventative care, delivering dental restorative procedures, eliminating pain or correcting dento-facial esthetics, often in a single visit the dentist can experience the satisfaction, privilege and joy of positively transforming a patient’s life by restoring oral health.

    • Be independent in your career.
      Dentists have the opportunity to own their own businesses right after dental school. This gives them a lot of independence and allows them to set their own business and career goals.  

    • Earn a good salary.
      In 2012, the average net income for an independent private general practitioner who owned all or part of his or her practice was $202,760, and $303,790 for dental specialists, according to the ADA Health Policy Resource Center 2013 Survey of Dental Practice. Incomes vary across the country and depend on the type of practice.  

    • Choose from a number of career options.
      While 80% of dental school graduates go into private practice in general dentistry, the profession offers a wide range of clinical, research and academic opportunities to both new graduates and dentists at any stage of their careers.  

    • Maintain a flexible lifestyle.
      Because there are a number of different career and practice options in dentistry, practitioners can choose what kind of lifestyle they will lead and often what hours and days they will work. 

    • Shape the future of oral healthcare.
    • In addition to clinical practice, the dentist can also contribute significantly to the future direction of oral health care by engaging in dental education and research. Dental educators have the ability to shape the dental school curriculum and the professional role of the dentist by establishing themselves as faculty members in dental education. As a dental researcher, the dentist uses the most advanced technological tools and applies cutting edge scientific findings to advance the profession forward by discovering new oral health phenomenon or seeking a resolution to a myriad of oral health issues.

    • Be respected members of their communities.
      Dentists are highly regarded by the communities they serve for their contributions to the general health of the public as well as their drive to improve the lives of those around them.  

    • Exercise creativity in their daily work.
      Dentistry is often referred to as an art. It requires mastery and technique unique to the profession. Dentistry is largely based on maintaining proper oral health, but is also an aesthetically focused practice. A large part of dentistry involves restoring teeth and making a smile beautiful, one that the patient is happy to show to others.  

    • Work as part of a team.

      Although the dentist is often portrayed as the “lone practitioner,” in actuality, dentistry is a team-oriented profession. Whether it is the dental team (dental hygienist, assistant and lab technician) working together with the patient to ensure the restoration and maintenance of oral health, or the dentist’s role on an interprofessional team, working with other health professionals to improve overall health, the dentist receives much satisfaction as a primary team player.

    • Provide benevolent care to their communities.

      With an annual income well above the national norm, combined with a flexible work schedule, the dentist is allowed the privilege and ability to provide oral health care to those communities and populations that desperately lack access and affordability.