Career in Dentistry


This information is mainly with reference to the dental practice in USA and its related data.

[Source of this information:]

For local information, kindly refer to the Malaysian Dental Association or Malaysian Private Dental Practitioners Association or the Malaysian Dental Council

Click here to see an interesting article on Oral Healthcare in Malaysia (written in 2005).

Dental practice in Malaysia

To be able to practice as a dental surgeon in Malaysia, you require a minimum undergraduate qualification form a recognised institution. Upon graduating, you need to register with the Dental Council.

Recognised qualifications list may be downloaded from here.

In addition to this, if you are running a private dental clinic, a further registration under the Private Healthcare & Services Act is required.

Example of the registration certificate

Example of Private
Healthcare & Services registration

Dentist Job Description

Dentists examine patients' teeth and mouth tissue in order to diagnose and treat problems. Most are general practitioners, but some specialize by becoming:

  • orthodontists
  • oral and maxillofacial surgeons
  • pediatric dentists
  • periodontists
  • prosthodontists
  • endodontists
  • public health dentists
  • oral pathologists
  • oral and maxillofacial radiologists
Employment Facts for Dentists

Dentists held about 161,000 jobs in 2006. Most were general practitioners (136,000), followed by orthodontists (9,200), oral and maxillofacial surgeons (7,700) and prosthodontists (1,000). There were 6,900 dentists working in other specialty areas.

Educational Requirements for Dentists

To become a dentist in America one must attend a dental school that is accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). To be accepted into one of the 56 (as of 2006) dental schools in the U.S., one must complete at least two years of predental education. Most dental school applicants have a bachelor's degree. All dental schools require applicants to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). There is a great deal of competition for admission to dental school.

Other Requirements for Dentists

After graduating from dental school, one must be licensed by the state in which he or she wants to practice. Individual states or licensing agencies administer written and practical exams which dental school graduates must take in order to become licensed. Candidates may take (and pass) the National Board Dental Examinations to fulfill the written part of the state licensing requirement.

Job Outlook for Dentists

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of dentists will grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2016.

Earnings of Dentists

Salaried dentists earned a median annual salary of $137,630 in 2007 or median hourly wages of $66.17. Many dentists, however are self employed, and earn considerable higher salaries.

Use the Salary Wizard at to find out how much dentists currently earn in your city.

A Day in a Dentist's Life

On a typical day a dentist may:

  • remove decay from teeth and fill cavities;
  • examine x-rays;
  • extract teeth;
  • apply sealants to teeth;
  • administer anesthetics;
  • prescribe medication;
  • treat gum disease by performing surgery on gums and supporting bones;
  • straighten teeth;
  • take impressions of teeth in order to make models that will be used to make dentures to replace missing teeth;

Here are some duties performed by dentists who work in the nine specialties:

  • Orthodontists straighten teeth using devices that apply pressure, i.e., braces and retainers.
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeons operate on the mouth and jaws.
  • Pediatric dentists treat children.
  • Periodontists treat gums and the bone supporting the teeth.
  • Prosthodontists replace missing teeth with dentures, bridges and crowns.
  • Endodontists perform root canal therapy.
  • Public health dentists work within communities to promote good dental health.
  • Oral pathologists study oral diseases.
  • Oral and maxillofacial radiologists use imaging technologies to diagnose diseases in the head and neck.