Dentists are healthcare professionals who diagnose, treat and prevent problems with teeth and gums. They provide cleanings, remove decay, fill cavities, repair cracked or broken teeth and do crown and bridge work. They also may do some cosmetic dental work, such as tooth whitening or veneers, and gum care, like treating gingivitis. Dentists provide dental counseling to patients, advising them on how to prevent certain dental conditions, spot early warning signs that conditions are developing and prescribe a treatment plan to correct any issues.
Dentistry is a broad category. While it takes years of dental school to become a dentist, there are also related career paths that require additional years of specialization and study. Dentists do not normally perform oral surgery — even something like extracting a wisdom tooth is something that Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons or Dental Surgeons take care of instead. Further, dentists are not Orthodontists. While dentists work in tooth and oral care, orthodontists specialize in tooth alignment. Their work centers on crowded or misaligned teeth.
Dentists may work in a private practice or as part of a group. Dentists may also work in clinics and they often specialize. Some dentists focus on work with children, while other concentrate on geriatrics. Some dentists may opt to work more with veneers and whitening, while others specialize in bridgework and fillings.
California Dentist Job Market
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for dentists is expected to increase by 16 percent in the next decade, adding over 23,000 jobs throughout the United States.
Dentist Salaries in California
Dentists in California earn $155,270 per year on average, or roughly $74.65 per hour (BLS).In contrast, oral and maxillofacial surgeons earn $219,290 per year on average, or $105.43 per hour, and orthodontists earn $200,900 per year on average, or $96.59 per hour.