A career in dentistry has two key components: what the dentist does and how he or she does it. The “what” refers to the specific field of dentistry in which he or she practices; the “how” refers to the type of practice itself. These components offer many options for fulfilling one’s professional and personal goals.
If you choose to become a dentist, making decisions about these components will allow you to develop a career that suits your professional interests and fits your lifestyle. The following overviews of clinical fields and professional and research opportunities should help you decide.
There are many clinical fields in dentistry. While most dentists in private practice are general practitioners, others choose to specialize in one particular field.
You should note that some of these options overlap. Dentists who work in private practice, for instance, are often self-employed, but some are salaried employees in group practices.
Dental researchers often work in university settings, but may be employed by the federal government or private industry.
This list of practice options is not exhaustive because the horizons of dentistry are expanding every year, especially at this dynamic time in health care.
General Dentistry - Approximately 80% of all dental school graduates become general dentists.
Dental Specialties - Approximately 20% of dental school graduates choose to specialize in a particular field.