Dentists (NOC 3113)

About this job

Dentists diagnose, treat and prevent disorders of the teeth and mouth.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • work in private practice or may be employed in hospitals, clinics, public health facilities or universities
  • must have an aptitude for using mechanical equipment, as well as a high degree of manual dexterity
  • must have strong interpersonal and communication skills as well as patience

In general practice, the emphasis has shifted from correction of teeth and mouth problems to prevention.

Common job titles
  • DDS (doctor of dental surgery)
  • dentist, general practice / pediatric
  • endodontist
  • pedodontist
  • periodontist
  • prosthodontist
  • DDS (doctor of dental surgery)
  • dentist, general practice / pediatric
  • endodontist
  • implantologist - dentistry
  • orthodontist
  • pathologist, oral

Duties

Dentists:

  • Examine patients' teeth, gums and surrounding tissue to diagnose disease, injury and decay and plan appropriate treatment
  • Restore, extract and replace diseased and decayed teeth
  • Perform oral surgery, periodontal surgery and other treatments
  • Clean teeth and instruct patients on oral hygiene • Design bridgework, fit dentures and provide appliances to correct abnormal positioning of the teeth and jaws, or write fabrication instructions or prescriptions for use by denturists and dental technicians
  • Supervise dental hygienists, dental assistants and other staff.
Duties for specific occupations in this group are outlined under Special Duties.

Special duties

Endodontists

  • Endodontists use root canal therapy and other supportive measures to preserve teeth showing diseases of the dental pulp.

Orthodontists

  • Orthodontists study the growth and development of teeth and jaws and straighten crooked or poorly spaced teeth.

Periodontists

  • Periodontists treat diseases that affect the gums and instruct patients in the prevention of recurrences. They also perform corrective surgery of the gums and supporting bones to treat gum diseases.

Prosthodontists

  • Prosthodontists attempt to restore the natural teeth or replace missing teeth and adjoining tissues with artificial substitutes, such as bridges and dentures.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons

  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeons operate on diseases, injuries or deficiencies of a person's jaw.

Oral and maxillofacial radiologists

  • Oral and maxillofacial radiologists provide intraoral and panoramic radiography, but also perform TMJ and implant tomography, orthodontic radiographic examinations and diagnostic consultations.

Oral pathologists

  • Oral pathologists study the cause, development and effects of oral diseases using clinical, microscopic, radiographic or other laboratory procedures. They may treat disease directly or provide guidance. Oral radiologists make and
  • interpret radiographs of the head and neck area.

Pediatric dentists

  • Pediatric dentists specialize in preventive and therapeutic care for children.

Public health dentists

  • Public health dentists promote public education and the prevention, control and treatment of dental diseases for communities.

Oral medicine

  • Oral medicine is a non-surgical specialty that includes the evaluation, diagnosis, therapeutic management and research of medically related oral diseases.

Work environment

Dentists work in clean, well-lit and well-equipped offices. Though most dentists operate their own private practices, some are employed by large health care facilities, such as hospitals.

Dentists in private practice often have the flexibility to choose when and how many hours (full time or part time) they want to work. In some instances, dentists may be required to adjust hours to meet patients' needs.

Dentists follow dental practice infection control protocols and procedures and wear masks, gloves and safety glasses to avoid transmission of infectious diseases. Safety precautions are also taken when using hazardous chemicals or equipment.

Dentists must be familiar with the use of a wide variety of equipment for various procedures. These professionals may experience neck and or back strain when performing long procedures.

Insights from industry

Health care in B.C. and in Canada, in terms of both the number of practitioners and the amount of funding, has increased considerably over the last decade.

Population growth, an aging population, and technological advancement in diagnosis and treatment, are also increasing the demand for dental services. In addition, many opportunities for dentists will become available due to retirements, which are expected to make up a significant number of new openings.

Industry reports the current supply of new graduates is insufficient to meet demand. In particular, there is currently a shortage of dentists in rural areas of the province. As such, new graduates may find increased employment opportunities in more rural areas of the province, where employers have more difficulty finding qualified dentists.

Advances in biomedical sciences and disease patterns continuously change the delivery of dental care. As well, improvements in many aspects of dental care are enabling dentists to undertake more complex treatments. These improvements may also increase demand.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

After graduation, most new dentists enter a private practice with an established dentist. After gaining experience, many dentists will open their own practice. Partnerships with other dentists and group practices are also becoming increasingly common.

With additional education and training (usually one to four years), dentists can become certified specialists in a dental specialty recognized by the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia.

Opportunities to work in research facilities, crime labs or for government health authorities may also be available.

Additional resources