Dentists diagnose, prevent, and treat problems with teeth or mouth tissue, using science and technology to help people maintain and improve their oral health. Besides providing oral exams and filling cavities, dentists repair fractured teeth, straighten teeth, put sealants on children’s teeth, examine x-rays, make models for dentures to replace missing teeth, perform corrective surgery, place implants, and treat gum disease. Dentists administer anesthetics and prescribe medications. They screen patients for cancers and disorders of the jaw and bones around the face.

Prevention is a key component of a dentist’s job. They instruct patients on diet, brushing, flossing, and the use of fluorides.

The majority of dentists are general practitioners; about 15% are specialists who limit their practices to such specialties as: orthodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, endodontics, public health dentistry, oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology.

Dental Specialties include: Orthodontics, Oral and maxillofacial surgery, Pediatric dentistry, Periodontics, Prosthodontics, Endodontics, Public health dentistry, Oral pathology and Oral and maxillofacial radiology.

Salary Range: $69,210 – $208,000+

Salary Notes: The median annual salary is $151,440. Salaries depend upon location, specialization, and experience. A dentist’s average income is in the highest five percent of U.S. family income. The annual mean salary in Vermont for general dentists was $155,520 in 2017.

Where you can study:
Boston University School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA
Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA
University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, Farmington, CT
University of New England College of Dental Medicine, Portland, ME

Where you might work:
– Clinics – Federal Government Facilities – Hospitals – Military – Private and Non-profit Practices – Research Facilities – Teaching Institutions

Job Outlook: Employment is projected to grow much faster than average nationally; demand for dental services is very high in Vermont, and many of the current dentists are nearing retirement.

Education, Licensing and Certification: High school and undergraduate course work should focus on math and science. Most dental students get a bachelor’s degree first, though some dental schools only require two years of college before admission. Dental school usually takes four years to complete. Specialization usually requires an additional two to four years of training. Candidates must pass a standard national exam and a regional exam in the area where they wish to practice. Students may incur a debt load for dental education as high as $150,000-$200,000, but many states including Vermont, offer educational loan repayment options in exchange for service commitments working with underserved populations.

Professional Organizations:
American Dental Association 312-440-2500
American Dental Education Association 202-289-7201
Vermont State Dental Society 802-864-0115