Five Dentistry Career Options

Written by  //  2013/11/18  //  Career Planning  //  Comments Off on Five Dentistry Career Options

Dentistry describes the art or profession of a dentist, but it isn’t just a dentist that may be engaged in this field. Nearly every dentist employs a dental hygienist, individuals that clean and examine teeth, teach oral hygiene, take x-rays and assist the dentist. There are several other job positions within dentistry that college students might want to consider including the following top dental careers.

Dental Assistants

While dental hygienists work closely with the dentist, dental assistants typically round out the practice by handling other duties not carried out by either party. Dental assistants prepare patients, disinfect instruments, take and record medical information, instruct on oral care, order supplies, and may make preliminary impressions. Most assistants possess a dental assistant certificate with some obtaining an associate degree. The average salary was $34,500 as of 2012 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

Dental Laboratory Technicians

When a patient’s teeth are gone, then dentures are the answer. Dental laboratory technicians are tasked with constructing and repairing full or partial dentures or dental appliances. They read prescriptions, examine models, make impressions and determine how the dentures will be constructed. These professionals use complex equipment including dental articulators, finishing or polishing discs, lathes and other accessories. Most technicians have at least a high school diploma with about one-third receiving some college education, but no degree. As of 2012, dental laboratory technicians earned $36,090 per year on average reports the BLS.


Across the board, orthodontists must have a doctoral or professional degree. These individuals examine, diagnose, and treat dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies. They also design and build appliances to realign teeth and jaws in an effort to make and maintain normal oral function and to improve appearance. Orthodontists are educated in medicine and dentistry, and acquire the skills to treat injuries, deformities and diseases. It is a small, but rapidly growing field and a lucrative one at that. It is not uncommon for an orthodontist to make $200,000 to $300,000 per year or more.


A prosthodontist constructs oral prostheses to replace missing teeth and other oral structures, in an effort to fix both natural and acquired deformation of the mouth and jaws. These professionals are tasked with restoring and maintaining oral function, Including speaking and chewing, and for improving patient appearance. A prosthodontist measures and takes impressions of patients’ jaws and teeth in a bid to determine the shape and size of the dental prosthesis. They will use face bows, dental articulators, recording devices, and other materials to accomplish their work. Only about 1,000 people work as prosthodontists in the United States. Like orthodontists, strong growth is expected through the rest of the decade with a 28 percent increase in jobs expected. Almost all prosthodontists have a professional or a doctoral degree. The average salary for these professionals was $169,130 as of 2012 reports the BLS.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Dentistry has its own surgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons who perform procedures and surgery on the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial regions. These professionals treat diseases, tend to injuries, and repair defects. Surgeons may diagnose problems and improve patient function or appearance. Oral surgeons may remove impacted or damaged teeth, remove tumors or other abnormal growth, evaluate wisdom teeth and work with other medical professionals. Surgeons are also available to perform emergency treatment to fix fractured facial bones and lacerations. Surgeons possess a professional or doctoral degree and can expect to earn about $250,000 per year on average according to

Author Information
Jessie Flesner is a freelance writer in New Albany, Indiana. She often writes about the dental industry for

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