- Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we found the average annual salary for seven types of dentists.
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Dentists can earn a lot of money depending on their educational background and specialization.
We compiled salaries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment Statistics program, a database that updates salaries for about 800 detailed occupations annually.
Here are seven types of dental professions, along with their average annual salaries and number of people employed as of 2018, as well as their job descriptions, according to the Department of Labor's O*NET occupational database .
Dental assistants make an average of $39,770 a year
Number employed: 341,060
What they do, according to O*NET : As their name implies, they assist dentists with everything from setting up equipment to preparing patients for treatment, and they record patients' dental histories. Typically, a vocational school degree is the only requirement for this career.
Dental laboratory technicians make an average of $43,180 a year
Number employed: 34,480
What they do, according to O*NET : They construct and repair dentures and dental appliances using models made from a patient's mouth. The models they create must mimic the bite and movement of a patient's jaw, which determines the design of the dental product.
Dental hygienists make an average of $75,500 a year
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Number employed: 215,150
What they do, according to O*NET : They clean teeth and examine patients' mouths for signs of oral disease. They also take X-rays, use dental instruments to remove deposits and stains from teeth and gums. Most dental hygienists only need to have an associate's degree.
General dentists make an average of $175,840 a year
Number employed: 113,000
What they do, according to O*NET : Dentists ensure that their patients keep their teeth clean. They examine teeth and gums and perform routine check-ups and cleanings. Unlike dental hygienists, dentists use surgical tools for a number of procedures, including tooth removal and dental appliance fitting. A doctoral degree is required to become a dentist.
Prosthodontists make an average of $191,400 a year
Number employed: 380
What they do, according to O*NET : They construct oral prostheses to replace missing teeth, improve birth defects, or improve a patient's appearance. Unlike dental laboratory technicians who construct dental models, prosthodontists construct the actual prostheses that go in a patient's mouth.
Orthodontists make an average of $225,760 a year
Number employed: 5,350
What they do, according to O*NET : Orthodontists fit braces and other dental appliances in patients' mouths, and perform more invasive procedures that dentist's can't, like root canals. To determine which patients need dental appliances, they look for abnormalities such as misaligned teeth or jaws.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons make an average of $242,370 a year
Number employed: 4,830
What they do, according to O*NET : Oral and maxillofacial surgeons earn the most money, but perform the most invasive procedures. They examine patients' wisdom teeth and remove any impacted, damaged, or non-restorable teeth. They also operate to prepare patients for larger dental appliances.
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