What Does A Dentist Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

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Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Dentists

Dentists 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
$180830
Becoming One
Very Hard
Education
Doctoral degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Dentists 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.

  • Use masks, gloves, and safety glasses to protect patients and themselves 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.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Dentists use masks, gloves, and safety glasses to protect patients and themselves from infectious diseases. They 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.

A typical day for a Dentist will also include:

  • Use dental air turbines, hand instruments, dental appliances, or surgical implements.
  • Administer anesthetics to limit the amount of pain experienced by patients during procedures.
  • Diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, or malformations of teeth, gums, or related oral structures and provide preventive or corrective services.
  • Formulate a plan of treatment for the patient’s teeth and mouth tissue.
  • Analyze or evaluate dental needs to determine changes or trends in patterns of dental disease.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Dentists also treat exposure of pulp by pulp capping, removal of pulp from pulp chamber, or a root canal, using dental instruments. They may also fill the pulp chamber and canal with endodontic materials.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Dentists perform oral or periodontal surgery on the jaw or mouth. They might also write prescriptions for antibiotics or other medications.

In addition, they remove diseased tissue, using surgical instruments.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them eliminate irritating margins of fillings and correct occlusions, using dental instruments.

To some Dentists, it is also their responsibility to produce or evaluate dental health educational materials.

Featured Schools


What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Very High

Is this job meaningful

Very High

82% said they were satisfied with their job and 86% said they found their job meaningful.


Midas Dental

I’m the Principal Dentist at Midas Dental. We provide Invisalign, Cosmetic Dentistry, Guided Implants, Teeth Whitening, Kids Dentistry, and Wisdom Teeth Removal. My job is to help people understand their dental health and what they should do to take care of it. The primary responsibility for my job is to make sure that all of … Read More


The Denture & Implant Clinic

My Typical Day I’m a proper General Dental Practitioner, meaning I pretty much do everything from orthodontistry (diagnosing, preventing and treating teeth and jaw irregularities), oral surgery, and restoring implants, to fixed/removable prosthodontics and routine check-ups – there is never a dull day (except when my entire day is full of routine check-ups only)! I … Read More


Gentle Dental Care Group

My Typical Day There is no typical day for me which I appreciate as it keeps me engaged and always open to new ideas and scenarios. I enjoying practicing a range of dentistry and I’m a General Dental Practitioner at heart. I carry out a mix of routine work like patient check-ups, and specialist procedures … Read More


Grace Dental Design

A typical day looks like this: I arrive at work and check the schedule. My assistant prepares the patients and lets me know when they are ready for that day’s dental procedure. I alternate between doing dental procedures and checking the patients who are in the dental hygienist’s chair; checking the patient entails doing a … Read More


We start our day with our own schedule of procedures and surgeries along with the need to see hygiene patients for check-ups along with any emergencies that walk through the door. The average procedure is between 45-90 minutes and can be anything from fillings, root canals, extractions, or other surgeries. When we see hygiene patients, … Read More


I am responsible for patient intake, assessment, and diagnosis. Planning treatment plans, communicating with patients and team, managing team members (assistants, hygienists, front office), I perform both routine and more specialty dental work- cosmetic treatment (smile makeovers, veneers), implants, general dentistry (fillings, crowns, hygiene exams), sleep and airway assessment. Aside from medical expertise, you need … Read More


Sutton Place Dental Associates

I am an NYC general and cosmetic dentist. I founded a dental office (in 1996). As a general dentist, I take care of patients’ dental and oral health needs. That includes the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the dentition including the teeth, gums, mouth, jaw and related structures. A dentist can practice general … Read More


Doctor Alesh

I’ve wanted to be a dentist since I was 4 years old so for me it’s a dream come true to be practicing as a general dentist. I help patients achieve optimum oral health, alleviate pain, and improve their smiles. My days consists of examining and diagnosis oral diseases, performing treatments like fillings and extractions, … Read More


Lollipop Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

What is it like being a Dentist? Being a dentist is one of the most amazing careers! You have the ability to own your own business while making a difference in the lives of so many patients by educating them about the importance of excellent dental health. You are also able to build lifelong friendships, … Read More


United States Navy

My name is Patrick Campbell and I am a licensed, practicing dentist with the United States Navy. I feel as though I have a few unique perspectives that I can hopefully provide to your readers. 1. The harsh reality of student loans As a recently graduated dentist from dental school, I can speak about some … Read More


What is your work life like? Dentistry is one field of medicine that you could somewhat have a set schedule and don’t need to be oncall like other branches of medicine. Work life consists of seeing patients 4-5 days a week and providing treatment for them. I start work at 9AM and end my day … Read More


Pros

Suitable for people who like to solve problems mentally.

Suitable for people who want independence and like to work on their own and make decisions.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

Demand for this career is growing very fast.

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to work with designs.

It is very hard to get into this career. Extensive skills, knowledge, and experience are required for this career.

How much do they make

Average salary

$180830 per year

Average hourly wage

$87 per hour

Entry-level Dentists with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $81,060 to $115,290 per year or $39 to $55 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $208,000+ $100+
Senior (Top 25%) $208,000+ $100+
Median $158,940 $76
Junior (Bottom 25%) $115,290 $55
No experience (Bottom 10%) $81,060 $39

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Dentists based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Offices of Other Health Practitioners $213930 $102.85
State Government $193800 $93.17
Offices of Dentists $183340 $88.15
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals $172820 $83.09
Employment Services $172490 $82.93
Other Ambulatory Health Care Services $171060 $82.24
Management of Companies and Enterprises $165990 $79.80
Outpatient Care Centers $164090 $78.89
Offices of Physicians $163520 $78.62
Local Government $159220 $76.55

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Dentists work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Dentists including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Offices of Dentists 85120 $183340 $88.15
Offices of Physicians 3180 $163520 $78.62
Outpatient Care Centers 2520 $164090 $78.89
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 1580 $142450 $68.49
State Government 880 $193800 $93.17
Local Government 850 $159220 $76.55
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 510 $112990 $54.32
Employment Services 270 $172490 $82.93
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals 140 $172820 $83.09
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 140 $213930 $102.85

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
55%

40 hours
43%

More than 40 hours
1%

Working schedule

87%

12%

1%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
52%

Every day
35%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
22%

Every day
70%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
0%

Every day
100%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
43%

Once a year
41%

Once a month
6%

Once a week
0%

Every day
9%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
10%

Slightly competitive
5%

Moderately competitive
18%

Highly competitive
25%

Extremely competitive
41%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
0%

Once a year or more
8%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
92%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
70%

Once a year or more
12%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
18%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
97%

Once a year or more
2%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
1%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
99%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
1%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Very Hard
You will need an extensive amount of skill, knowledge, and experience. Careers in this difficulty category usually require graduate school and more than five years of experience. These careers usually involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Similar careers include Pharmacists, Lawyers, Astronomers, Neurologists, and Veterinarians.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
0%

Post-Secondary Certificate
0%

Some College Courses
7%

Associate’s Degree or similar
6%

Bachelor’s Degree
0%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
6%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
81%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant majors

Dental Public Health Residency Program

A residency-training program that prepares dentists in the formulation and delivery of public preventive and curative dental health services.

Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares dentists to provide primary oral health care to infants, children, and adolescents, including patients with medical, physical or mental disabilities, and to treat a wide variety of dental problems for these patients.

Pediatric Dentistry/Pedodontics

A program that focuses on the advanced study of the therapeutic and preventive care of the oral health of children from birth through adolescence, and the care of adults with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Includes instruction in developmental oral biology, preventive medicine, diet therapy and counseling, patient management, pediatric restorative procedures, pulp therapy, trauma management, anesthesia, treatment planning, and the treatment of handicapped patients.


Dentistry

A program that prepares individuals for the independent professional practice of dentistry/dental medicine, encompassing the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area, and adjacent structures and their impact on the human body and health. Includes instruction in the basic biomedical sciences, occlusion, dental health and prevention, oral pathology, cariology, operative dentistry, oral radiology, principles of the various dental specialties, pain management, oral medicine, clinic and health care management, patient counseling, and professional standards and ethics.

Advanced General Dentistry

A program that focuses on the advanced study of dental clinical techniques and dental practice issues. Includes instruction in subjects such as the history of dentistry, advanced dental practice management, dental ethics and jurisprudence, social and behavioral science studies of dentistry, advanced restorative dentistry, oral medicine, oral radiology, advanced clinical procedures and technology, and others.

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
29%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
13%

1 to 2 years
19%

2 to 4 years
20%

4 to 6 years
18%

6 to 8 years
1%

8 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
34%

1 month
19%

1 to 3 months
19%

3 to 6 months
1%

6 months to 1 year
3%

1 to 2 years
6%

2 to 4 years
7%

4 to 10 years
11%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Thinker

People with this personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.

The Builder
76%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
100%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
24%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
57%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
33%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
43%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with ideas and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

They also like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
86%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
83%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
81%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
86%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
48%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
95%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ

How to become a Dental Clinician?

With a high level of competition, Dental school is very tough to get into. Successful applicants must demonstrate a dedication to helping others, have a wide range of extra-curricular activities and show evidence of high academic performance. Therefore, life before dental school was incredibly demanding meaning any spare time I had was devoted to studying … Read More

Answered by:
Dr Suril Amin
Lead Clinician


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