Said Leppo. “It allows surgical procedures to be less invasive, increasing precision and decreasing the healing duration. New imaging and printing technology has enabled providers to fabricate and deliver restorations in house and in less time.”
“You get to be really creative dental file. There are many ways to design a case, and there is a real artistic portion of the work,” said Charlie Zasso, DDS, MBA, chief clinical officer of Affordable Dentures & Implants. “You get to be a scientist as well and use data and STEM knowledge to solve patient problems while working with people all day long. Dentistry is really a people business with creative and scientific aspects.”
Specialists may be further down the list, but they still are doing well. Orthodontists and oral and maxillofacial surgeons both have a median salary of $208,000, while prosthodontists have a median salary of $126,000. All three specialties have a 0.4% unemployment rate like general dentists and expected growth of 17%, with 1,100 new openings for orthodontists, 1,200 for oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and 200 for prosthodontists contra angle handpiece.
The intangibles are a different story. US News & World Report notes that orthodontists have more flexibility and less stress for a great work-life balance. Plus, their work is meaningful without the pressure of the life and death scenarios found in other healthcare positions. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons and prosthodontists, though, have more stress and less flexibility. Their work also often involves complex treatment or emergency situations dental handpiece.
Still, many dentists overall have a favorable view of their profession. In addition to the factors cited by US News & World Report, dentists value the relationships that they form with their patients, the esteemed role that dentistry holds in society, the autonomy of managing both patient care and the business aspects of their practices, the constant opportunities to learn about new clinical developments, and the satisfaction of helping those who need it.
“Dentistry is most definitely a top job. The dentist-patient relationship is unique because of the immediate and definitive satisfaction provided by the dentist and realized by the patient when compared with other service professions where the outcomes and results are, in many instances, more nebulous and delayed,” said Marvin H. Berman, DDS, a pediatric dentist with a career spanning more than five decades.
“At this point in time, dentistry is still a great profession. The ability to help your fellow man and contribute meaningfully to your community remains a deeply fulfilling aspect of this profession. It’s an ever-evolving field, keeping it fresh for the dentist while demanding commitment to continued education,” said Dr. Gigi Meinecke, founder and principal of Facial Anatomy for Comprehensive Aesthetic Seminars.
“It is one of the few remaining occupations in healthcare wherein the practitioner can be truly self-employed. One of the principal determinants that led me to leave academics and enter private practice, 31 years ago and counting, was the desire for self-determination. I have the opportunity, and I do consider it to be an opportunity rather than a burden, to make all of the key decisions myself in my practice,” said Brien Harvey, DDS, MS, chair of the board at Delta Dental of Arizona and a practicing periodontist in Tucson.
“What steps need to be taken in order to provide the best possible patient service and to gain excellent clinical outcomes—I use the word ‘unparalleled’ in our office vision statement—every day for every patient? What materials do we use? What is the focus of our practice in terms of treatments offered and how these treatments are delivered?” said Harvey. “It is genuinely fun to help our patients reach their goals in terms of oral health and function and aesthetics.”