Careers in Dentistry

Careers in Dentistry

The dental field is a career choice with teeth, thanks to an aging American population on a constant quest for tooth-to-toe health and beauty. The government expects employment of dental assistants and dental hygienists to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018, as dentists delegate routine work to focus on the most profitable dental procedures. The need for dental laboratory technicians -- a lesser-known group of dental workers -- is growing about as fast as the average for all occupations. Learn more about these three dental careers.

Dental Assistants

Dental assistants provide instruments, suction patients’ mouths and sterilize equipment as dentists examine and treat patients. Dental assistants may also perform administrative tasks like scheduling and confirming appointments, ordering supplies, sending bills and collecting payments. "You can’t get bored if you apply yourself," says Kristy Borquez, past president of the American Dental Assistants Association. "The workday is so diverse. I have built a rapport with patients and enjoy catching up with them when they come in."

Some dentists hire assistants with no formal education or training; others prefer dental assistants who have completed training programs of a few months to two years. But responsibilities and pay tend to be better for dental assistants with some schooling, Borquez says. Some dental assistants use the position as a stepping stone to becoming a dental hygienist or dentist; others make dental assisting their career, explains Borquez, who has been a dental assistant for 30 years. "I think dentists are looking for employees who are dependable, loyal, easygoing, good with people and looking for a professional career, not just a job," she adds.

Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists provide preventive dental services, from removing plaque to taking and developing dental X-rays. Educating and counseling patients on oral hygiene is another big part of the job description. "There is a growing recognition that oral health is necessary for total health," says Helena Gallant Tripp, who has been a registered dental hygienist for 41 years and is president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Decay and infection in the mouth has been linked to diabetes, heart conditions and bearing low-birth weight babies, Tripp says, and dental hygienists play an important role in identifying such problems.

Hygienists must have a minimum of an associate’s degree or certificate in dental hygiene to work in a dental office, and they must pass a written and clinical exam to earn their state license. Tripp encourages aspiring dental hygienists to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree to enable them to do more autonomous work, like screening and treating patients in nursing homes and schools. "The more education you have, the more opportunities your employer will give you, and the more interesting and varied your work will be," she says.

Dental Laboratory Technicians

Dental laboratory technicians fill dentists’ orders for crowns, bridges, dentures and other dental prosthetics. The technician’s goal is to create a replica in the same shape and color as a patient’s lost teeth. First, a technician creates a plaster model of a patient’s mouth based on a mold the dentist has sent. Then the technician uses the model to build and shape a wax tooth or teeth. The wax tooth is then re-created as a metal and porcelain tooth that’s placed in the patient’s mouth. "Dental technology tends to attract a lot of artists," says Ricki Braswell, co-executive director of the National Association of Dental Laboratories. "It’s important to have a keen eye for color, form and function."

Many dental laboratory technicians are self-employed solo practitioners who perform all stages of restoration. Others work in commercial dental labs, where they may specialize in only a few steps of the process.

There are about 20 accredited dental-technology education programs. However, most technicians train on the job, and it takes several years to become proficient. Most laboratory owners would welcome having aspiring technicians shadow them for a day to gauge their interest in the profession, Braswell says. "It’s an excellent career, but most people are not really familiar with it," she says.

For more about dental careers, visit the American Dental Association’s education and careers site.

Learn more about healthcare careers.

Latest Jobs

Prospect Info Systems
Posted: 05/23/2015
Chesterfield, 63017
Posted: 05/23/2015
Hazelwood, 63042
Amplified Digital
Posted: 05/23/2015
Saint Louis, 63101
IOD Incorporated
Posted: 05/23/2015
Houston, TX, 77002
United Rentals Inc
Posted: 05/23/2015
Freeport, TX, 77541

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-301