Why be a dentist?

There are as many reasons to be a dentist as there are dentists. It is a career that provides plenty of rewards and challenges as well as an opportunity to help people and make communities healthier places. 

  • For the seventh consecutive year, the U.S. News & World Report100 Best Jobs” listed professions in dentistry among its top jobs.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of 7.6 percent, equating to 10,400 new dentist jobs through the year 2028. 

    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.

    People choose to become dentists because they can...

    • Restore the oral health and transform the lives of their 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 their careers.
        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 2022, the average annual net income for a general practitioner who owned all or part of his or her practice was $218,220 and $335,920 for dental specialists, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute 2023 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 health care.

        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 techniques and technologies 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.