The U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 best job rankings had Dentists in the number two position, second only to Software Developer, and ahead of other professions in the healthcare field. Overall employment of dentists is projected to grow 19% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average of all occupations. The demand for dental services will increase as the population ages and as research continues to link oral health to overall health. Also, the growing popularity of cosmetic dentistry will increase the demand for dentists.
There are nine recognized dental specialties and the pay scale depends on specialty and geographical location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for dentists in May 2017 was $158,120.
The median annual wages according to specialty were as follows:
– Oral and maxillofacial surgeons $208,000+
– Orthodontists $208,000+
– Dentists, all other specialists $190,840
– Prosthodontists $185,150
– Dentists, general $151,440
The majority of dentists’ practice general dentistry. However, the most popular specialty was orthodontist, followed by prosthodontist, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
According to the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), the following are statistics for professionally active dentists by specialty:
– General Dentistry 147,987
– Endodontist 4,531
– Oral Surgeon 5,932
– Orthodontist 8,542
– Pedodontist 6,187
– Periodontist 4,593
– All Other Specialties 10,437
As in the other areas of healthcare, patient access to dental care presents challenges. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), at the end of 2017, identified 5,866 dental health professional shortage areas with a total population of 63 million. It estimated the need for 10,802 new dentists to eliminate the designations.
Dentists earn a high median salary and have a good work-life balance. With strong demand in this field, the employment outlook for dentists is extremely positive.