As a dentist, you will diagnose, prevent and treat teeth and tissue problems by removing decay, fill cavities, examine x-rays, straighten teeth and repair fractured teeth. You will also perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum disease.
Demand for dental care is growing. As baby-boomers age, a large number will need more dental work and more complicated dental procedures. With the advances in dental care, teeth retention is on the rise requiring more dental care than in the past.
Many dentists choose to go into private practice. Some also specialize in the areas of orthodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, prosthodontics, endodontics, public health dentistry, oral pathology, or oral and maxillofacial radiology.
Dentists work four to five days a week, with some evening and weekend hours included. Most established dentists work a 40-hour workweek. When dentists are first establishing a practice more hours are needed to gain cliental. According to the American Dental Association, 80 percent of dentists own their own business and many work beyond the normal retirement age.
Dentists are expected to see a national employment increase of 21 percent by 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Michigan is expected to see an employment increase of 7 percent by 2018.
Employment growth will provide job openings, but most jobs will arrive from the need to replace retiring dentists. According to the American Dental Association, nationwide, more than one-third of the 152,000 active dentists are over 55 years old. Job prospects will also be available for dentists to take over, or establish their own private practice.
In all 50 States, a license is required to practice. To qualify for licensure, a candidate must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass a written and practical examination. The written portion is administered by the National Board Dental Examinations, and each state administers the practical examinations.