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THE JOB DENTISTS diagnose, help prevent and treat various disorders of the teeth and gums. They employ various treatments to preserve and restore the natural teeth, remove decayed teeth when necessary and provide artificial replacements. Most Dentists also provide oral prosthetics utilizing implants. Most Dentists are general practitioners who emphasize preventative dentistry with their patients. They examine teeth and other tissues of the mouth to evaluate dental health utilizing X-rays, diagnostic procedures and instruments. Dentists perform routine periodic checkups, prepare and fill cavities, fit bridges and take impressions for crowns and dentures. They use air turbine and hand instruments, dental appliances and surgical implements. Dentists also administer anesthetics when appropriate. Many Dentists also run a business and direct a staff of auxiliaries, using business management skills. Most practitioners employ and supervise dental assistants dental hygienists and receptionists. Most dentists open their own practice, but an increasing number have formed partnerships or groups. Many are salaried and work for hospitals, dental clinics, prisons or in one of the military services. Others work as full-time or part-time teachers, administrators or Researchers in dental schools or Research laboratories. Eight specialties areas recognized by the American Dental Association. The largest group of specialists are orthodontists with the next largest group, oral surgeons. The remainder specialize in pedodontics (dentistry for children); periodontics (treating the gums); prosthodontics (making teeth or dentures); endodontics (root canal therapy); public health dentistry; and oral pathology (diseases of the mouth). WORKING CONDITIONS Dental offices have two or more fully equipped treatment rooms. Although Dentists are seated while working, they still may develop lower back problems. Job stress is common as evidenced by the increasing number who stop practicing due to "burn-out" and incidence of poor general health. Other hazards such as exposure to infectious diseases are greatly reduced by the use of safety equipment and practices. Dentists generally maintain memberships in the American Dental Association, the California Dental Association and local dental societies. EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK The California Board of Dental Examiners reports 26,000 licensed Dentists in the State. Between 750 and 1,000 pass the licensing exam each year. Newly licensed Dentists must notify the Board when they go to work. While employment figures are not available, the Board estimates that almost l00% enter employment, open a practice, or go on to specialty training within a few months after passing the exam. Some go to work in other states. The following information is from the California Projections of Employment published by the Labor Market Information Division. Estimated number of workers in 1990 12,940 Estimated number of workers in 2005 18,160 Total estimated new jobs 1990 -2005 5,220 Projected Growth Percentage 1990-2005 40% Estimated openings due to separations by 2005 5,580 (These figures do not include self-employment nor openings due to turnover.) The above figures reflect only those Dentists who work for a salary. More than half are self employed and are not counted in employment projections. Population growth, increased patient awareness and current dental insurance programs with coverage for more people will account for most of the growth. Dental insurance plans may soon switch to "Managed Care Programs" instead of the current fee system that bills the carrier a percentage per treatment or service for each patient. Patterned after the Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO), Managed Care Programs provide a set amount of money for dental care for all members. The insurance carrier is not billed for each treatment or service. The affect of Managed Care Programs on the employment outlook for Dentists is unknown at this time. WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS A Survey of Dental Practice by the American Dental Association shows that the national average annual income for dentists with established private practices was $107,220 for general practitioners and more for specialists in 1992. Dentists in private practice in California earn somewhat more than the national average. Survey results for l993 will be available soon. Salaries for dentists employed by the California Department of Corrections start at a monthly range $5,622 - $6,189 and move through range levels, topping at $7,886 monthly. Dentists employed by the federal agencies start at $37,087 per year, and with experience advance through pay levels to $52,587 and up. The top level is $73,471 annually. Dental officers in the military earn regular pay for their rank plus monthly incentive pay. Work hours vary widely. Established dentists mostly work less than a 40-hour week. Dentists employed by hospitals and clinics may be on call. Government agencies usually have regular weekday, daytime hours. ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING Dentists practicing in California must be licensed by the State Board of Dental Examiners. The American Dental Association National Board exam is required for graduation from an accredited dental school. It is given in two parts and is usually taken in the sophomore and senior years of dental school. Graduates are eligible to take the State licensing exam. The three-day State examination also measures practical abilities. Candidates perform specified clinical procedures on patients, make diagnoses and develop treatment plans as well as perform specified laboratory procedures. Licenses are renewed every two years, and requires fifty hours of continuing education. Five universities in California have schools of dentistry offering the basic Doctor of Dental Surgery degree: the University of California, San Francisco; the University of the Pacific, San Francisco; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; and the Loma Linda University near San Bernardino. These dentistry programs take either three or four years to complete. The minimum qualification for admission is two or three years of college, but most successful applicants have a Bachelor's degree. Prerequisite courses vary with each college, but may include biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, psychology and embryology. Applicants must take the American Dental Association Admission Test. Dental education is expensive; expenditures for equipment, supplies, books and tuition can total up to $80,000 or more for four years. Scholarships, loans and loan repayment plans are available, including some federal programs requiring several years of service in an officially designated "dental shortage area." Contact dental school financial aid offices or the California Student Aid Commission at (916) 445-0880 for details. There is a growing trend for recent graduates to enter residency programs, although they are not required at this time. Residency programs are offered at various universities and hospitals throughout the country. A limited number of residences are available within the military. Success requires a great deal more than clinical proficiency. Dentists must be good with people, have effective communication skills and inspire confidence. Private practitioners need business management skills. The latest Research shows that the special skills that Dentists have with their hands are entirely a result of training they receive in dental school, exploding the common myth that a high degree of manual aptitude is needed for a successful career in dentistry. ADVANCEMENT Advancement for most dentists takes the form of building a thriving practice and gaining community and professional recognition. Some Dentists take advanced training in specialties such as orthodontia. Dentist who work for others may become a partner. Those employed by government agencies advance to higher levels of responsibility and pay. FINDING THE JOB Job seekers should apply directly to dental clinics, hospitals with dental services and to public agencies such as the California Department of Corrections or the federal Veteran's Administration. Professional journals and networking with members of dental associations frequently lead to jobs. Additionally, the military provides a good opportunity to travel and practice dentistry. Before deciding on a location for a practice, Dentists should evaluate the potential of the community to support a practice. Checking with dental societies, dental supply houses, professional practice brokers, planning departments and other local organizations can help identify the right opportunity. ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION Contact dental schools in California, review trade magazines about dental economics and contact the: California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Dental Examiners 1432 Howe Avenue, Suite 85B Sacramento, CA 95825 (916) 263-2300 http://www.dca.ca.gov California Dental Association 1201 K Street Mall Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 443-0505 http://www.cda.org/ RELATED OCCUPATIONAL GUIDES Dental Hygienist No. 155 Dental Laboratory Technician No. 243 Podiatrist No. 298 Doctor of Medicine No. 319 Optometrist No. 467 OCCUPATIONAL CODE REFERENCES DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th ed., Rev 1) Dentist 072.101-010 Oral Surgeon 072.101-018 Orthodontist 072.101-022 OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) System Dentists 321050 Source: State of California, Employment Development Department, Labor Market Information Division, Information Services Group, (916) 262-2162.Note: This is NOT a job opening. The purpose of This California Occupational Guide is to provide you with useful information to help you make career decisions. If you are searching for a job, go to:
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