Careers in Dentistry
A dental education opens up a world of professional opportunities. In addition to private practice, today's dental school graduates can choose to work in hospital emergency rooms, conduct advanced laboratory research, teach future dentists or even travel the world with international health and relief organizations.
Follow the ADA News series, Becoming a Dentist, and read exciting stories about three of today's dental students.
If you are looking for a rewarding career in health care with a competitive salary and a sustainable work-life balance, dentistry may be for you.
Dental specialties are recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards to protect the public, nurture the art and science of dentistry, and improve the quality of care. Information on the nine recognized specialties and the recognized dental specialty certifying boards is available.
Choosing a Dental School
There are over 65 dental schools in the United States accredited by the ADA's Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Each program is rigorously evaluated for its content and quality. Typically, DDS/DMD programs take four years to complete with additional years for dental specialties like Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Pediatric Dentistry.
Admission to dental school is highly competitive, but the application process has never been easier. Most U.S. dental schools accept a single online application through the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS).
Paying for Dental School
Dental school, like other graduate and professional programs, is a significant investment. Over 90 percent of dental students take out loans to finance their education. Visit Financial Resources for Dental Students and Recent Graduates for detailed information about financial planning and effective debt management.
The ADA Foundation offers a limited number of scholarships for underrepresented minority and second-year dental students. We can also connect students with other federally funded scholarships.
Dental Team Careers
There is a great demand for dental team positions like dental hygienists, dental assistants and dental lab technicians. Hygienists and assistants interact closely with patients to ensure a high level of care, while dental lab technicians work behind-the-scenes, designing the dentures, crowns and braces used by dentists.
All dental team careers are well paid with flexible hours. The educational costs are also much lower than dental school. Learn more about accredited training programs in your area.