Is Dentistry Still A Good Career Path In The US?

When dental offices were shut down three years ago during the height of the global pandemic, it came as a bit of a shock. During that time, only “essential” practices were allowed to remain open to customers and patients, and with dental firms on hold, it seemed to suggest that dentistry, as a profession, had become “non-essential”.

This is in stark contrast to twenty or even ten years ago. Between 2009 to 2012, the percentage of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 undergoing an annual dentist visit was around 61%, moving to 65% toward the end of 2013. 

Last year, however, a study revealed that one in three Americans have not had a dentist visit in the last three years, and while the closures during the pandemic are bound to play a part in this, the very fact that there were closures points to an uneasy problem in the dental healthcare industry: fewer people in the US are acknowledging dentists as a meaningful practice, and fewer people are going to the dentists as a result.

The Truth Behind Dentistry

For those training to become a professional in the field of oral health, there is likely to be a nagging concern when it comes to the current figures. They might even be wondering whether becoming a dentist – which involves at least five years of study at dental school, followed by nearly two years of supervised practice – is worth it in the modern age. 

When it comes to the figures, however, there are more realistic things at play other than a supposed, nationwide mindset. According to recent figures, adults residing in urban areas – around 66.7% – were more likely to have a dentist visit than adults who lived in rural areas – around 57%. This can be traced directly to shortages of dental firms that are experienced across the country. 

In a study undertaken three years ago, it was revealed that 43% of rural Americans lacked access to dental care, with Colorado, Kansas, and Montana among the many states struggling. These shortages are implicated, similarly, in staff shortages, which have led many dental practices to relocate or even close completely. A survey taken in September suggested that 52% of dental professionals were experiencing heavy staff shortages, with 46% concerned that it was impacting quality of care, 35% not being able to take breaks during the day, and 52% worrying about the impact of exhaustion or burnout.

This is why recruiting practices like have a section specifically for the dental profession, offering a more streamlined process, with fast dentist job placements and candidate screenings – all to ease the stress being experienced by dental professionals in 2023 and ensure that the top candidates in the right role faster than ever before. 

Is Dentistry Still A Good Career Path?

This is a serious problem for dental firms across the US, and with insurance issues, financial requirements, debt, and a new emphasis on “do-it-yourself” dentistry options increasing the pressure, it is acceptable that anyone would weigh up whether dentistry is still a good career path. In many ways, however, it is as good a career path now as it has ever been. 

Since the pandemic, CDC evidence proved that dentistry has the highest level of infection control among any industry, and after backtracking on dentists not being “essential workers”, shutdowns should never be experienced again. As with any healthcare profession, dentistry is also an opportunity to help people who are in need. Other industries might come and go, but dentistry, as a concept, will always be needed. It fulfills a lifetime need and, although techniques may change, it is a skill that cannot be replaced by DIY tools – people will always need professionals who have trained in dental hygiene. 

It’s also worth mentioning that dentistry is still one of the top-ranked jobs in the US, coming in at 11th for the best-paying career. The annual salary keeps growing, and there are multiple career paths that can offer flexibility when it comes to hours worked. There is also plenty of opportunity. As mentioned before, the big problem with the industry right now is the staff shortages that practices are experiencing, but with the benefits of healthcare recruiters becoming more realised, it is becoming easier for dental firms to be connected with candidates. 

And they are needed. That means, for anyone studying dentistry, there is a good prospect of attaining one of the best-paid jobs in the country and a job that will never not be relevant. For that reason, we would say that dentistry is not only a good career path, it is one of the best in 2023.