Approximately 38% of Americans aged 35 to 44 missing at least one tooth, while 97% of us believe that a good smile is a key social aspect to our lives. Knowing this, its easy to understand how important dental careers are. No matter what dental careers you are looking to pursue, the overall goal is to improve people’s smiles and self confidence.
American dental care gives patients the option to have access to world-class treatment for whatever dental issues they may have. So if you are considering any careers in dentistry, here are the four options you can choose from:
- Dental Hygienist. Working under a dentist’s supervision, you will be able to provide patients with information on preventative care. You can instill the importance of good dental hygiene, and how frequent dental visits can prevent tooth loss and decay.
To become a hygienist, you will need an associate’s degree from a dental hygiene school. Afterwards, it is require that you have state licensing — which you receive after passing written and practical exams.
All dental careers vary in salary, but hygienists will make a median annual salary of $67,340
- Dental Assistant. Also working alongside a dentist, assistants will be able to perform basic patient care, but not the same treatment as dental hygienists. Usually, assistants will be working in the laboratory creating devices such as cosmetic dental implants.
Lucky for those who are interested in this dental career path, no previous experience or knowledge is required — you learn everything on the job. However, if you want a leg up on your competitors, if would be a good idea to attend a dental assistant program offered by your local community college or technical institute. A few states will require you to get a license for practicing, but not all.
Dental assistants will generally earn a median salary of $33,230.
- Dental Technician. It is a technician’s job to work in the lab, whereas an assistant will also have office duties. Technicians will create dental prosthetics such as implant supported dentures that a cosmetic dentist will call for.
You will receive training on the job but many dental offices will prefer to hire those who have some sort of formal training via a community college or the U.S. Armed Forces. Technicians will generally earn around $34,820 per year.
- Dentist. As a dentist, you will diagnose patients and treat their oral health issues involving the teeth and gums. Unlike the previous dental careers, dentists are required to go to dental school — a four year program and come away with a bachelor’s degree.
Upon graduation, dentists must receive a state license in order to practice. A written exam and a practical exam are also needed to complete the certification process. Dentists will make an average of $142,090 per year.
Keep in mind that within the realm of “dentist,” there are nine different dental specialist areas. Do some research and find out which is best for you. Read more about this topic at this link.