Job description

Dentists are in charge of patients’ dental health by monitoring, diagnosing and treating their teeth, gums and other parts of the mouth. In addition to removing tooth decay, repairing damaged teeth and filling cavities, dentists also provide advice and instruction on proper dental hygiene to ensure patients take good care of their teeth and gums.


    • Examine patients’ mouths utilising a diverse array of tools and applying your expertise
    • Diagnose potential oral diseases that will need to be treated and referred to a specialist
    • Offer treatment to injuries, malformations or benign diseases of teeth and gums
    • Fill cavities, remove decaying teeth and repair a damaged tooth
    • Apply fluoride or sealants to teeth during cleaning or treatment of dental health problems
    • Perform oral or periodontal surgery on patients’ mouths or jaws to treat conditions
    • Provide preventive care using various dental appliances and tools
    • Clean patients’ teeth, gums and tongue
    • Compose a guide on proper dental health regimen and create a plan with the patient
    • Administer anaesthetics to limit or reduce the amount of pain that a patient might endure
    • Develop medical treatment plans and collaborate with patients to determine what works
    • Design, produce and fit prosthodontic appliances
    • Polish teeth or apply bleach to restore the natural color of teeth
    • Search for, interview, hire and terminate staff for your dental clinic

Skills and qualities

Manual dexterity
Time management

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

Dentists will typically begin their careers as interns and then associates before practising on their own. While it can be difficult to progress beyond a dentist and business owner, there is the opportunity to land a teaching position at a university or college. You might also be given the chance to serve on an industry body.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

On call for emergencies

Since many dentists own their own practices, they will come up with their own hours. For the most part, though, they work 40 hours during regular business hours. Of course, there are plenty of business operators who will keep their practices open on weekday evenings and weekends – some will even do emergency work during holidays.

A dentist will primarily work in a business setting. Because some dentists are instructors as well, they will spend a portion of their time in an education environment.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree

Study time

6 years

To become a dentist, you will need to have obtained a four-year bachelor’s degree in any science-related field, preferably anatomy, biology, chemistry or microbiology. After you have completed your undergraduate programme, you will have to earn a doctoral degree in dental medicine or dental surgery from a school accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). It should be noted that prior to enrolling, you must submit your Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores with your enrollment application.

Upon graduation, all dentists need to apply for licensing, which will vary based on jurisdiction.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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