Employment is projected to grow faster than the average. Job prospects should be good, reflecting the need to replace the large number of dentists expected to retire.
Employment of dentists is projected to grow by 16 percent through 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for dental services is expected to continue to increase. The overall U.S. population is growing, and the elderly segment of the population is growing even faster; these phenomena will increase the demand for dental care. Many members of the baby-boom generation will need complicated dental work. In addition, elderly people are more likely to retain their teeth than were their predecessors, so they will require much more care than in the past. The younger generation will continue to need preventive checkups despite an overall increase in the dental health of the public over the last few decades. Recently, some private insurance providers have increased their dental coverage. If this trend continues, people with new or expanded dental insurance will be more likely to visit a dentist than in the past. Also, although they are currently a small proportion of dental expenditures, cosmetic dental services, such as providing teeth-whitening treatments, will become increasingly popular. This trend is expected to continue as new technologies allow these procedures to take less time and be much less invasive.
However, employment of dentists is not expected to keep pace with the increased demand for dental services. Productivity increases from new technology, as well as the tendency to assign more tasks to dental hygienists and assistants, will allow dentists to perform more work than they have in the past. As their practices expand, dentists are likely to hire more hygienists and dental assistants to handle routine services.
Dentists will increasingly provide care and instruction aimed at preventing the loss of teeth, rather than simply providing treatments such as fillings. Improvements in dental technology also will allow dentists to offer more effective and less painful treatment to their patients.
As an increasing number of dentists from the baby-boom generation reach retirement age, many of them will retire or work fewer hours and stop taking on new patients. Furthermore, the number of applicants to, and graduates from, dental schools has increased in recent years. Job prospects should be good, because younger dentists will be able to take over the work of older dentists who retire or cut back on hours, as well as provide dental services to accommodate the growing demand.
Demand for dental services tends to follow the business cycle, primarily because these services usually are paid for either by the patient or by private insurance companies. As a result, during slow times in the economy, demand for dental services can decrease; consequently, dentists may have difficulty finding employment, or if already in an established practice, they may work fewer hours because of reduced demand.
Dentists held about 141,900 jobs in 2008. Employment was distributed among general practitioners and specialists as follows:
|Oral and maxillofacial surgeons
|Dentists, all other specialists
Approximately 15 percent of all dentists were specialists. About 28 percent of dentists were self-employed and not incorporated. Very few salaried dentists worked in hospitals and offices of physicians. Almost all dentists work in private practice. According to the American Dental Association, about 3 out of 4 dentists in private practice are solo proprietors, and almost 15 percent belonged to a partnership.
Job Zone 5 - Extensive preparation
Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of medical school and up to an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to do their job.
At a minimum, a bachelor's degree is required for these occupations. However, many also require a graduate school degree such as a Master's, Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations require that you already have the necessary skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
Lawyers, instrumental musicians, physicists, counseling psychologists, and surgeons.
These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising or managing the activities of others. Very advanced communication and organization skills are required.
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For information on dentistry as a career, a list of accredited dental schools, and a list of State boards of dental examiners, contact:
- American Dental Association, Commission on Dental Accreditation, 211 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Internet: http://www.ada.org
For information on admission to dental schools, contact:
- American Dental Education Association, 1400 K St. NW., Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20005. Internet: http://www.adea.org
For more information on general dentistry or on a specific dental specialty, contact:
- Academy of General Dentistry, 211 East Chicago Ave., Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60611. Internet: http://www.agd.org
- American Association of Orthodontists, 401 North Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141. Internet: http://www.braces.org
- American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 9700 West Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont, IL 60018. Internet: http://www.aaoms.org
- American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 211 East Chicago Ave., Suite 1700, Chicago, IL 60611. Internet: http://www.aapd.org
- American Academy of Periodontology, 737 North Michigan Ave., Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60611. Internet: http://www.perio.org
- American Academy of Prosthodontists, 211 East Chicago Ave., Suite 1000, Chicago, IL 60611. Internet: http://www.prosthodontics.org
- American Association of Endodontists, 211 East Chicago Ave., Suite 1100, Chicago, IL 60611. Internet: http://www.aae.org
- American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, P.O. Box 1010, Evans, GA 30809. Internet: http://www.aaomr.org
- American Association of Public Health Dentistry, 3085 Stevenson Dr., Suite 200, Springfield, IL 62703. Internet: http://www.aaphd.org
People interested in practicing dentistry should obtain the requirements for licensure from the board of dental examiners of the State in which they plan to work.
To obtain information on scholarships, grants, and loans, including Federal financial aid, prospective dental students should contact the office of student financial aid at the schools to which they apply.
Sources: O*Net data version 12.0
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Department of Labor
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