Detailed Guide forDentists, General in San Diego County
May also be called: Doctors of Dental Medicine (DMD); Doctors of Dental Surgery (DDS); and Family Dentists
Specialties within this occupation include: Dental Public Health Specialists; Endodontists; Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologists; Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologists; Pediatric Dentists; and Periodontists
What Would I Do?
Most Dentists are general practitioners, handling a variety of dental needs. Dentists examine, diagnose, and treat problems affecting the teeth, gums, tongue, lips, and jaws. They remove tooth decay, fill cavities, place protective plastic sealants on children’s teeth, and perform root canals. They also perform extractions and dental surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum diseases. Dentists provide instruction on diet, brushing, flossing, the use of fluorides, and other aspects of oral health care. Dentists are important in the early detection of oral cancer and other conditions in the body that display symptoms in the mouth. They give advice and administer care to help prevent future problems.
In addition to working as general practitioners, Dentists may practice in any of the following specialty areas:
Dental Public Health Specialists promote good dental health and the prevention of dental diseases through organized efforts. They also develop policies and programs to improve the dental health of the community.
Endodontists perform root canal therapy and specialize in treating injuries and diseases of dental pulp, nerves, and tissues affecting teeth.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologists diagnose diseases in the head and neck through the use of imaging technologies.
Oral Pathologists diagnose oral diseases such as oral cancer or oral lesions.
Pediatric Dentists focus on dentistry for children from birth to adolescence and may also treat disabled patients.
Periodontists treat the gums and bone supporting the teeth.
Tools and Technology
Dentists use a variety of dental tools and technology in their work. They use tools such as mouth mirrors, dental probes, burrs, dental forceps, and excavators. They also use dental files, reamers or drills, and dental X-ray units. They use dental technology such as dental implants, intraoral cameras, dental lasers, and sedation dentistry. Dentists may also use computer-assisted design (CAD), computer-assisted manufacturing (CAM), accounting, medical, spreadsheet, and word processing software.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Use masks, gloves and safety glasses to protect themselves and their patients from infectious diseases.||Customer and Personal Service|
|Examine teeth, gums, and related tissues, using dental instruments, x-rays, or other diagnostic equipment, to evaluate dental health, diagnose diseases or abnormalities, and plan appropriate treatments.||Medicine and Dentistry|
|Diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, or malformations of teeth, gums, or related oral structures and provide preventive or corrective services.||Problem Sensitivity|
|Formulate plan of treatment for patient's teeth and mouth tissue.||Complex Problem Solving|
|Advise or instruct patients regarding preventive dental care, the causes and treatment of dental problems, or oral health care services.||Speaking|
|Administer anesthetics to limit the amount of pain experienced by patients during procedures.||Control Precision|
|Use air turbine and hand instruments, dental appliances and surgical implements.||Finger Dexterity|
|Treat exposure of pulp by pulp capping, removal of pulp from pulp chamber, or root canal, using dental instruments.||Near Vision|
|Design, make, or fit prosthodontic appliances, such as space maintainers, bridges, or dentures, or write fabrication instructions or prescriptions for denturists or dental technicians.||Judgment and Decision Making|
|Write prescriptions for antibiotics or other medications.||Critical Thinking|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Customer and Personal Service||Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.|
|Medicine and Dentistry||Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.|
|Problem Sensitivity||The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.|
|Complex Problem Solving||Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.|
|Speaking||Talking to others to convey information effectively.|
|Control Precision||The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.|
|Finger Dexterity||The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.|
|Near Vision||The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).|
|Judgment and Decision Making||Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.|
|Critical Thinking||Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.|
Dentists work in clean, sterile environments that are well-lit. Most Dentists run their own businesses and manage a small staff of dental hygienists, dental assistants, and receptionists. Some work for other Dentists, while an increasing number have formed partnerships or groups. The number of hours worked varies greatly among Dentists. Most established Dentists work less than 40 hours a week, whereas those who are trying to establish a new practice may work more. Most Dentists work four or five days a week and some work evenings and weekends to meet their patients’ needs. Some Dentists continue in part-time practice well beyond the usual retirement age.
Using proper ergonomics can help minimize lower back pain from sitting while working with patients. Following safety practices and using safety equipment such as masks, gloves, and safety glasses protects Dentists and their patients by reducing hazards, such as exposure to infectious diseases. Observing standard hygiene and safety procedures also helps reduce risk.
Self-employed Dentists are not unionized; however, salaried Dentists who work for specific governmental entities may join the Union of American Physicians and Dentists.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Dentist may appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve working with ideas and that require an extensive amount of thinking. This occupation involves searching for facts and figuring out problems. Results-oriented individuals who value working on their own and making decisions should enjoy this type of job.
Good communication and customer service skills are important. In addition, self-employed Dentists should have good management and business skills.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
Earnings vary according to number of years in practice, location, number of hours worked, and specialty. Self-employed Dentists tend to earn more than salaried Dentists.
The median wage in 2015 for Dentists, General in California was $140,272 annually, or $67.44 hourly. The median wage for Dentists, General in San Diego County was $152,258 annually, or $73.20 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Salaried Dentists often receive employer-paid benefits, the most common being health, life, and malpractice insurance, as well as retirement benefits. Salaried Dentists may also receive paid continuing education. However, like other business owners, self-employed Dentists must provide for their own insurance and retirement plans.
What is the Job Outlook?
Employment for Dentists should remain steady. The growing older population should drive demand for the more expensive services and dental products available. More people are keeping their teeth as they age. Additionally, there is a growing interest in cosmetic dentistry. Growth of dental benefits in managed care also drives demand for routine and optional procedures. A large group of Dentists have reached retirement age and will need to be replaced in the near future.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Dentists, General is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Dentists, General are expected to increase by 8.3 percent, or 1,200 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
In San Diego County, the number of Dentists, General is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Dentists, General are expected to increase by 11.1 percent, or 150 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|San Diego County|
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 110 new job openings per year is expected for Dentists, General, plus an additional 350 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 470 job openings.
In San Diego County, an average of 14 new job openings per year is expected for Dentists, General, plus an additional 33 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 47 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|San Diego County|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
Graduation from an accredited four-year dentistry program is required to become a Dentist. Candidates must complete a minimum of two to three years of college to be admitted into a dentistry program; however, most applicants have a bachelor's degree. Required college courses include organic and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, biology, microbiology, physics, and English. Applicants must perform well on the Dental Acceptance Test (DAT) to be admitted into dental school, which can be quite competitive. Schools require an application and fee along with transcripts and letters of recommendation. Going into any of the dental specialties may take anywhere from two to seven additional years in a postdoctoral residency program.
Some employers prefer to hire Dentists with one to three years of experience. Larger group practices or dental corporations may not require experience and may welcome new graduates. Employers with a large volume of patients who are children prefer Dentists with experience in pediatric dentistry. Others may want Dentists with experience in supervising dental staff.
Early Career Planning
High school courses important to becoming a Dentist include biology, chemistry, health, and algebra. Other helpful courses include physics, psychology, and a foreign language. Business courses may be helpful for those planning to run their own practice. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends taking advanced placement (AP) level courses. Volunteering to work in a dental office or clinic will provide valuable exposure to the field. A few Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) offer introductory courses for dental careers. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.
California license renewals require 50 hours of continuing education after the first renewal. A list of registered continuing education providers is available on the Dental Board of California website at www.dbc.ca.gov under the Licensees tab.
Licensing and Certification
Dentists practicing in California must be licensed by the Dental Board of California. To be eligible for a license, applicants must graduate from a dental school approved by the Board. They must also pass a national exam, a law and ethics exam, and the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) exam. Fingerprint clearance is also required. The license must be renewed every two years.
Applicants with a current license in another state are eligible to apply for Licensure by Credential (LBC).
Further information on licensure in California can be found by visiting the Dental Board of California at www.dbc.ca.gov. Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.
The Dental Board of California offers various renewable permits to licensed Dentists and specialists who meet the criteria.
For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Dentists, General are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Offices of Dentists ||64.6%|
|Offices of Physicians ||2.8%|
|Outpatient Care Centers ||2.2%|
|State Government ||1.9%|
Finding a Job
Job seekers should apply directly to dental clinics, hospitals with dental services, and public agencies, such as the California Department of Corrections. Professional journals and networking with members of dental associations may lead to jobs. Additionally, the military also provides an opportunity to practice dentistry. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Dentists, General.
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
Dentists can choose a variety of career paths that include private practice, either as a sole owner or as a partner; teaching at a dental institution; working in a hospital; or working for the military services. Some Dentists take advanced training in other dental specialties, such as dental public health, endodontics, and pediatric dentistry. Those employed by government agencies or large organizations may advance to higher levels of responsibility and pay. They may become a manager of one office or an operations director over several offices.
Below is a list of occupations related to Dentists, General with links to more information.
|Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons||Profile|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
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