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Cosmetic Dentist: Education and Career Information

Cosmetic Dentistry is a huge career field, as a number of people place a high emphasis on outer appearance. Having a beautiful smile or teeth without any gaps may be a requirement of the profession. Many professionals and entertainers use the services of a cosmetic dentist to maintain the right look. This is a financially rewarding position. If you aspired to become a dentist, going into this specialty may be advantageous for you.

What does a cosmetic dentist do?

A cosmetic dentist maintains the teeth and gums, making sure they remain aesthetically beautiful. Their duties include bleaching, bonding, installing porcelain veneers or laminates, replacing fillings and other services. They care and treat the mouth as a regular dentist, but place a high emphasis on correcting any imperfections of the teeth and gums. They also coach clients on how to properly care for their teeth. Additional duties of a cosmetic dentist include maintaining dental records, taking X-rays, diagnosing dental conditions, formulating treatment plans and administrative duties. You can find cosmetic dentists working in private practice, at dental centers, in hospitals and cosmetic surgery centers.

How much does a cosmetic dentist earn?

A cosmetic dentist makes about $163,000 per year, but these salaries can significantly increase based on the location, whether or not the services are rendered in a major metropolitan area, how much experience and education they have, and their hours of operation. In some cities, cosmetic dentists work around the clock to accommodate athletes, entertainers and television personalities.

What skills are needed to become a cosmetic dentist?

There are a number of skills needed to be an effective cosmetic dentist:

Good eyesight: Cosmetic dentistry is all about aesthetics. A cosmetic dentist must have good eyesight to apply veneers, provide thorough cleanings and bleaching, and perform the duties required of them.

A steady hand: A cosmetic dentist must have a steady hand to perform their duties. There are a number of procedures that require surgery of some form. Being able to administer these procedures without harming the patient is essential.

Ability to concentrate for long periods: Some cosmetic dental procedures take a long time, or a series or treatments. A cosmetic dentist must be able to concentrate on the patient and the procedure for long periods of time.

Ability to use specialized equipment: There is quite a bit of specialized equipment used in dentistry. A cosmetic dentist must be able to effortlessly use specialized equipment to perform certain procedures.

Good communication skills: Good communication skills are a must, verbally and written. A good cosmetic dentist will be able to explain all the procedures in detail, as well as any treatment plans. They must also be able to put the patient at ease and build a level of trust. Being able to have simple, polite conversations with their clients is an important part of their job.

Ability to work with others: Dentists must work with others to administer certain procedures. Being able to work well with others is an essential part of the job.

Ability to work under pressure: When performing certain surgeries or treatments, it can be stressful. The cosmetic dentist must be able to work under pressure in every circumstance.

Monitoring: Monitoring patients throughout their procedures and afterwards is an integral part of the role of a cosmetic dentist. They should be able to vocalize what may happen, any side effects, schedule follow-ups and keep records of when new treatments have to be administered.

Internship requirements

Clinical hands-on internships take place in the final two years of dental school. Every program is different and may require more internship hours to satisfy requirements. Some schools offer a year-long residence called Advanced Education in General Dentistry, which provides advanced training on cosmetic dentistry.

Education requirements

Becoming a cosmetic dentist is not an easy road. There are a number of educational requirements that must be met prior to practicing. The first step is enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program. Under certain circumstances, dental schools may admit students who have gone through a three-year pre-dental program. Common coursework for the bachelor’s degree include:

•Organic chemistry

The second step in getting admitted to dental school is to take and pass the Dental Acceptance Test (DAT). This test should be taken in the junior year of the bachelor’s degree program. It consists of four multiple-choice tests and is administered by the American Dental Association (ADA). The DAT can be taken up to three times, and a fourth if needed with special permission.

The third step in this career path would be completing a dental program to obtain a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. Coursework in these programs include:

•Restorative dentistry
•Oral surgery
•Oral diagnosis

When going into a specific specialty such as cosmetic dentistry, additional post-graduate training is required. In the case of cosmetic dentistry, students will study coursework on esthetic and restorative dentistry, which is an extension of prosthodontics, which is an ADA specialty. There are some dental schools with courses that specifically concentrate on cosmetic dentistry under the DDS program. Choosing a school that has coursework on cosmetic dentistry is key.

All practicing dentists must pass national and state licensing exams, including the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE), which qualifies the individuals to practice dentistry.

Dentistry is a lucrative profession that is continuously growing. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the dental profession should grow by 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the average for most occupations. Technology also plays a huge part in the advancement of the dental profession. If you enjoy working with patients and are interested in dentistry as a career, cosmetic dentistry can add an enhanced element to your goals.

Dentistry Scholarships

ADA Foundation CBCF Louis Stokes Health Scholars Program CDA Foundation
National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Dental Education Association (ADEA)
Academy of Laser Dentistry U.S. Army Health Professions Scholarship Hispanic Dental Association
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Quick Fact
In 2018, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
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*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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