Lisa's Choice

Lisa is considering becoming a dentist. She likes working with her hands, doesn't find it gross to work with people's mouths, and she heard it pays well. Easy call, right?

A man holding his hands up and saying

Not exactly. There's a whole lot more to dentistry than teeth. Knowing the ins and out of the profession will help you make the best call.

What Does A Dentist Do?

A dentist diagnoses and treats problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth.

Dentists can:

  • Perform dental procedures using drills, mouth mirrors, probes, forceps, brushes, and scalpels. Flaticon Icon

  • Operate X-ray machines, laser tools, digital scanners, and other technology for diagnosis and procedures. Flaticon Icon

  • Make models and measurements for dental appliances.

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  • Teach patients about diets, flossing, and other aspects of dental care.

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A typical dentist's day also involves:

  • Supervising and working with dental assistants, hygienists, lab technicians, and other office staff.

  • Soothing frightened patients and ensuring they're comfortable and confident.

  • Overseeing bookkeeping and the buying of equipment and supplies.

A doctor making an impressed facial expression.


Who might be good as a dentist? Select all who fit.

Where Do Dentists Work?

Dentists work in clean and sterile clinical environments such as:

Private practices as a solo dentist or with partner dentists. Flaticon Icon

Government facilities like armed forces and prisons. Flaticon Icon

Hospitals treating patients with specific medical needs. Flaticon Icon

Outpatient care centres.

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Show Me The Money!

The average salary of a general dentist is:

Flaticon Icon $139,990/ year in the U.S.A

Flaticon Icon C$117,027/ year in Canada

How Do I Become A Dentist?

  1. Get a bachelor's degree. Preferably in biology or chemistry, as most dental schools require these courses.

    Tip: look for colleges and universities that offer a pre-dental program.

  2. Get into dental school by passing the dental admission test. It takes 4 years to get a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) , the most basic degree required to practice as a dentist.

  3. Decide if you wanna specialize or be a general dentist. There are 9 dental specialties you can choose from that require from 2 to 6 years of additional training and education.

  4. Get licensed. Pass the required written and practical exams to get a license. Requirements for a license may vary depending on your country or state.

  5. Smile! You're now a licensed dentist!


You'll Love It If You...

  • Love crafty handiwork.

  • Like working with tools, gadgets, and tech.

  • Like to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

  • Love helping people and making them smile!

A man giving two thumps up while smiling with missing teeth.

Consider Another Option If You...

  • Prefer to work alone.

  • Shy away from being the person in charge.

  • Aren't willing to invest the time and money in a single career.

  • Are in it just for the money.

A man opening a door as he enters a building then turns right back to exit.

Take Action

An animation of a group of teeth celebrating inside a mouth

If you reached this far and you're still fired up about being a dentist:


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