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New York Health Careers


What Do Dentists Do?

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with teeth and tissues in the mouth, along with giving advice and administering care to help prevent future dental problems. They provide oral health education and instruction on diet, brushing, flossing, and the use of fluorides. They remove tooth decay, fill cavities, examine x-rays, place protective sealants on children’s teeth, straighten teeth, extract or repair damaged teeth, and perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum diseases.

Dentists also prescribe medication, such as antibiotics, and administer anesthesia.

While most dentists are general practitioners, some choose to specialize. Dental specialties include:

  • orthodontics (treatment of abnormalities in teeth and jaws using devices such as braces and retainers);
  • oral and maxillofacial surgery (surgical procedures on jaws or mouth);
  • pediatric dentistry (oral health care for children and adolescents);
  • periodontics (treatment of disease of the gums and bones which support the teeth); and
  • public health dentistry (promoting oral health through organized community efforts).

Dentists usually employ and work with dental hygienists and dental assistants.

For more information: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dentists.htm.

Where Do Dentists Work?

The vast majority of dentists work in private group or solo practices. Some may also work in dental clinics, hospitals, or in academic settings.

What Do Dentists Earn?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median annual wage of dentists nationwide in 2016 was $159,770 and in New York was $150,970.

Earnings for dentists vary according to number of years in practice, location, hours worked, and specialty. Specialty dentists generally earn more than general dentists. Also, self-employed dentists in private practice tend to earn more than salaried dentists. Dentists who are salaried often receive benefits paid by their employer, with health insurance and malpractice insurance being among the most common. However, like other business owners, self-employed dentists must provide their own health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits and pay for their own business expenses, such as supplies, equipment, malpractice, and staff.

Supply and Demand

According to the BLS, between 2014 and 2024, the number of dentist jobs nationwide is projected to increase by 17.6%, and in New York by 19.3% during the same time period. The demand for dental care in New York and around the country is expected to increase as the population ages.

For more information on projections by New York State labor regions, click here.

Educational Requirements

Dental education programs are four years in length and generally include two years of classroom and laboratory instruction and two years of practical clinical experience, usually through supervised direct patient care. A growing number of dental school graduates are choosing to enter one- or two-year residency training programs.

Individuals interested in a career in dentistry must complete at least 60 credit hours of college study and usually have a bachelor’s degree. They are encouraged to take courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy, microbiology, and physics as an undergraduate. Students interested in attending dental school must take the Dental Admission Test.

New York Licensure Requirements

Dentists who practice in New York must be licensed and requirements include graduating from an accredited dental education program and passing the National Board Dental Examination. Continuing education is also required for active dentists to maintain licensure. Dentists can also get a certificate to administer general anesthesia, parenteral conscious sedation, or enteral conscious sedation. For more information: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/dent/dentlic.htm.

Financial Support

The American Dental Association Foundation offers a variety grants, awards, and scholarships to dental students. For more information, please go to: http://www.adafoundation.org/en/how-to-apply/education/.

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) also has scholarship, awards, and fellowship information: See this page on their website.

Education Programs in New York (subject to change)

Columbia University
College of Dental Medicine

630 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
(212) 305-3478
New York University
College of Dentistry

345 East 24th street
New York, NY 10010
(212) 998-9818 or (212) 998-9800
Stony Brook University
School of Dental Medicine

State University of New York
Stony Brook, NY 11794-8700
(631) 632-8989
University at Buffalo
School of Dental Medicine

State University of New York
315 Squire Hall
Buffalo, NY 14214-8006
(716) 829-2839

Additional Web Links

For more information on dentists, go to the American Dental Association website at: http://www.ada.org/; or the New York State Dental Association at: http://www.nysdental.org/.

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