Dentist Career Description

One of the more lucrative careers in the healthcare profession is that of a dentist. General practitioners are your community, school or company dentists who can treat nearly all dental problems.  Apart from general practitioners, a dentist career has specialization opportunities as well.

  • An oral dental surgeon performs restorative work in cases of accidents.
  • The orthodontist specializes in straightening misaligned or crooked teeth with braces.  Periodontists treat gum problems,
  • Prosthodontists replace lost tooth with an artificial one.
  • General practitioners who specialize in public dental health who work in ministries as social workers who develop dental care programs.
  • A few practitioners work full time in the teaching profession though many are known to do so on the side.
  • There’s also a small percentage who work in pharmaceutical companies to lab research to develop dental products.

Education and Licensing

A dentist career can take from 6-8 years of academics after high school.  You need to complete 2-4 years of college before entering dental college accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA) with most completing a 4-year baccalaureate degree.  Then you need to pass the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) to get to a dental college.   Upon graduation you either get a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) or doctor of dental medicine (DDS) affixed to your name.  Those you want to specialize need another 2-4 years of training.


Like doctors, a dentist needs to pass a state board exam to be able to practice.  After getting a license, most would prefer to set up a private practice or work established dentist to work up a clientele, while others get salaried positions in hospitals, pharmaceuticals and government agencies. Whether as general practitioners or specialized, dentists can command a median salary of $180,000 annually.