Career Facts

What They Do

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with a patient’s teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.

Work Environment

Dentists held about 146,800 jobs in 2012. Some dentists own their own businesses and work alone or with a small staff.

How to Become One

Dentists must be licensed in all states; requirements vary by state. To qualify for a license in most states, applicants must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical exams.


The median annual wage for dentists was $149,310 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of dentists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Similar Occupations

Chiropractors, Optometrists, Physicians and Surgeons.

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