Career Options After Dental School

07/01/20224 minute read
Career Options After Dental School

You’ve done the work, received your degree, and now what?

You’re a general dentist and can prevent/restore damaged teeth or treat diseases of the bone or soft tissue in the mouth. But you have several options beyond general dentistry. To start, you can further your career with a choice of twelve dental specialties:

Dental Anesthesiology: encompasses the art and science of managing pain, anxiety, and overall patient health during dental, oral, maxillofacial and adjunctive surgical or diagnostic procedures throughout the entire perioperative period.

Dental Public Health: the science and art of preventing and controlling dental diseases and promoting dental health through organized community efforts.

Endodontics: concerned with the morphology, biology, physiology, pathology and regeneration of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues.

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology: deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. It is a science that investigates the causes, processes, and effects of these diseases.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology: concerned with the production and interpretation of images and data produced by all modalities of radiant energy that are used for the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.

Oral Medicine: responsible for the oral health care of medically complex patients and for the diagnosis and management of medically-related diseases, disorders and conditions affecting the oral and maxillofacial region.

Orofacial Pain: encompasses the diagnosis, management and treatment of pain disorders of the jaw, mouth, face, head and neck.

Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics: includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion, as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures.

Pediatric Dentistry: provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs.

Periodontics: encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues.

Prosthodontics: pertains to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes.

Career Pathways

Whether or not you specialize, you can opt to earn your MBA. You can be an entrepreneur and commercialize oraltech, or work at a corporation/manufacturer such as Envista or Dentsply Sirona, a distributor like Henry Schein or Patterson, or an insurer like Delta Dental or United Healthcare. Here’s a breakdown of career options.

Academic Dentistry and Dental Education

Share your knowledge with like-minded students like you and teach the next generation of dentists.


Want to make a real difference? Study new approaches to dentistry? A research career can be very fulfilling, whether you work at a university or specialized center of health, like the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, or in the private sector.

International Healthcare

You can do a world of good by providing oral health care in places where it is rare or even non-existent. Dentists working in international health care provide services to children and adults in developing countries, often through agencies such as WHO or other global public health organizations.

Private Practice

Go into business for yourself and enjoy all the benefits of self-employment in private practice. You can scale your practice to many more locations and form a DSO or join one if you prefer.

Public Healthcare Policy

Not interested in direct patient care? A career in public healthcare policy can put your skills to good use on a community, state, regional or national level. Consider working at a university, a government agency such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the American Dental Association.

Service in the Government

Check out your options in an agency like the NIH, Army/Navy/Airforce or a policy position with Health and Human Services. Or join a branch of the military to offer dental care to military service people and their families. Or provide care to disadvantaged populations on a state level.

Whichever option you choose, you’re sure to enjoy a rewarding career in dentistry!