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Dental Jobs – Careers in Oral Hygiene

Dental Jobs – Careers in Oral Hygiene

Industry Outlook for Dental Jobs – For the most part, positions in the dental health field are expected to expand within the next five to ten years.

Positions in the dental health field include:

  • Dentists practicing under various specialties
  • Dental hygienists
  • Dental assistants
  • Dental Assistants

Dental assistant positions in particular are expected to continue expanding at a faster rate than they have in the past due to the fact that dentists are able to perform more complex procedures when they are freed from routine tasks that can be performed by a dental assistant.

A dental assistant’s duties typically range from office to laboratory, covering tasks such as pulling patient files as well as handing the dentists tools and suctioning the patient’s mouth during procedures.

Dental assistants usually work an average forty hour workweek, with little overtime required, although it may be necessary to work on some weekends as dictated by the employer.

Dental Hygienists

As with dental assistants, employment opportunities for dental hygienists are expected to remain quite good throughout the coming years. Dental hygienists perform many of the same duties that were once performed by dentists such as:

  • Examining teeth and gums
  • Cleaning teeth
  • Taking and developing x-rays
  • Instruct patients on proper oral health practices

There are a variety of work schedules available for dental hygienists, which is one of the attractions for many to the field. Individuals may frequently find that flexible scheduling is not a problem and that they are able to work part-time or full-time as they choose. Most dental hygienists actually hold more than one part-time job.


The field of dentists is the one area of the dental health industry that is not expected to grow as quickly as the others.

The majority of all job openings will arise from the need to fill positions vacated by others who have retired. Most dentists own their own practices.

Dentists may choose to practice in a number of specialized areas including:

  • Orthodontia (straightening of teeth)
  • Oral surgery
  • Prosthodontists (dentures, crowns, etc.)
  • Pediatric dental health
  • Periodontists (gums and bones beneath teeth)
  • Endodontist (root canal)
  • Oral pathology (research and study of oral disease)

Dentists typically work an average work week consisting of forty hours. Some weekend and evening work may be required, particularly in the more specialized fields.

Employment Prospects for Dental Jobs

Almost all dentists either own their own practice or work within a group of dentists. Dental assistant and hygienist positions can be found at dental offices and group practices throughout the country.

More specialized positions, such as in research and instruction, can be located at universities and some teaching hospitals.

Job Search for Dental Jobs

Open positions in the dental health industry are advertised in a variety of means. Since most dentist positions are actually self-employed, it is unlikely to find many positions advertised in the classifieds.

In some cases, when a group practice is looking for a dentist, they might seek the services of an employment agency or recruiting firm.

Dental hygienist and assistant positions are typically advertised through classified newspaper listings and employment agency services. Networking can also prove to be beneficial.

Resumes for Dental Jobs

A chronological resume is the best type of resume to use when searching for dental hygienist and assistant positions because it focuses on experience and education.

Dentists who are looking to specialize or who are interested in instruction and teaching may find that a curriculum vitae suits their needs better because it can acceptably be longer in format and provides opportunities to include information such as instructional experience and publication credits.

Cover Letters for Dental Jobs

The cover letter utilized by a job seeker looking for work in any field within the dental health industry should note how the applicant learned of the position and focus on any special experience, specialization or training.

Training & Qualifications for Dental Jobs

The training and qualifications required for dental health positions depend upon the position in which a job seeker is interested.

Dental Assistants

Dental assistant positions require the least amount of formal education and training. The majority of all dental assistants learn their skills through on the job training or by enrolling in a one year training program.

Dental assistants who handle tasks related to radiologic activities, taking x-rays, may be required to undergo advanced training as dictated by their State.

There is a wealth of room for advancement within this field of the dental health industry. Individuals may become certified or eventually become a dental hygienist.

Dental Hygienist

At a minimum, an associate degree is required to become a dental hygienist. Individuals who are looking toward advancement may also obtain a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree.

A dental hygienist must be licensed by their State in order to practice. This requires graduating from an accredited school and passing a written and clinical exam. Individuals interested in research or instruction would be required to obtain a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.


Dentists must be licensed in order to practice. This requires graduation from a dental school and passing a written and practical exam.

Interested candidates must first graduate with a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a related discipline and then successfully complete four years of dental school.

Dentistry Careers

Some dental schools will accept candidates who have completed only two years of undergraduate study, as opposed to a Bachelor’s degree, if the study was in a related discipline.

Students also participate in clinicals during dental school, which gives them opportunities to gain real world experience.

Good luck in your search for dental jobs!

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