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Career Profile: Dentists, General

Examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums. May treat diseases of nerve, pulp, and other dental tissues affecting oral hygiene and retention of teeth. May fit dental appliances or provide preventive care.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 120,300 people employed as dentists, general in the United States. The median annual salary is $158,900. Entry level employees earn approximately $81,060 per year and senior employees earn approximately $208,000 (or more) per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Fill pulp chamber and canal with endodontic materials.
  • Treat exposure of pulp by pulp capping, removal of pulp from pulp chamber, or root canal, using dental instruments.
  • Remove diseased tissue, using surgical instruments.
  • Manage business aspects such as employing or supervising staff or handling paperwork or insurance claims.
  • Analyze or evaluate dental needs to determine changes or trends in patterns of dental disease.
  • Plan, organize, or maintain dental health programs.
  • Bleach, clean, or polish teeth to restore natural color.
  • Produce or evaluate dental health educational materials.
  • Apply fluoride or sealants to teeth.
  • Formulate plan of treatment for patient's teeth and mouth tissue.
  • Diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, or malformations of teeth, gums, or related oral structures and provide preventive or corrective services.
  • Write prescriptions for antibiotics or other medications.
  • Advise or instruct patients regarding preventive dental care, the causes and treatment of dental problems, or oral health care services.
  • Design, make, or fit prosthodontic appliances, such as space maintainers, bridges, or dentures, or write fabrication instructions or prescriptions for denturists or dental technicians.
  • Eliminate irritating margins of fillings and correct occlusions, using dental instruments.
  • Perform oral or periodontal surgery on the jaw or mouth.
  • Use masks, gloves, and safety glasses to protect patients and self from infectious diseases.
  • Examine teeth, gums, and related tissues, using dental instruments, x-rays, or other diagnostic equipment, to evaluate dental health, diagnose diseases or abnormalities, and plan appropriate treatments.
  • Administer anesthetics to limit the amount of pain experienced by patients during procedures.
  • Use dental air turbines, hand instruments, dental appliances, or surgical implements.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
120,300
Annual Openings:
4,300
Increase in Openings by 2030:
8%
Annual Salary Range:
$81,060 - $208,000
Education Requirements:
Master's degree or higher