Dentistry has seen some tumultuous times lately, with new regulations, a shifting economy, and cutting-edge technologies all changing the single-practitioner drill-and-fill model. Perhaps that’s why US News & World Report and CNNMoney/PayScale have released a pair of “Best Jobs” reports, with similar pay and job growth expected, but drastically different overall rankings for the profession.
US News & World Report called dentistry the number one job overall and the ninth best job in terms of pay. According to its figures, dentists enjoy a $152,700 median salary and a 0.1% unemployment rate, along with an 18% employment growth rate between 2014 and 2024, with 23,300 new openings expected. The researchers also noted dentistry’s average stress level and agreeable work-life balance in calling it the top profession.
CNNMoney and PayScale’s annual list of the top 100 careers in the United States also cited its 18% employment growth rate and estimated its median pay at a similar $151,000 figure, but ranked dentistry in 44th place dental equipment. In compiling their rankings, CNNMoney and PayScale recognized today’s stronger job market, opportunities for advancement, job satisfaction, and overall job availability and growth in addition to pay. Stress and whether or not a profession is “meaningful” were factors as well.
“Dentistry is a business that allows you to work only a few days a week and make a great living, which leaves more time for you to spend with your family. It’s also great because of how much you interact with people. Nowadays so many jobs are computer based, and with dentistry you have to actually be there and you get to work with people,” said Desiree Yazdan, DDS, MS, an aesthetic dentist at the Center for Reconstructive Dentistry in Newport Beach, Calif dental scaling machine.
“Of course, one of the most valuable aspects is that you get to make a difference in someone’s life on a daily basis,” Yazdan added. “Whether it’s a small filling, or a full-mouth reconstruction, as a dentist you are creating a healthier oral cavity for your patients, and they are benefitting from you in one way or another.”
“We have so many tools to make dentistry efficient, predictable, and pain-free,” said Rico D. Short, DMD, an author and clinician practicing in Smyrna, Ga. “As an endodontist, I love instantly getting patients out of pain who have been hurting for days or even weeks contra angle handpiece. They are so shocked that a root canal can be done virtually pain-free and so fast.”
Generally, dentistry can expect growth in the years ahead. The ADA reports that dental spending increased again in 2015, indicating that the profession is rebounding from the flat years of the Great Recession. National dental care expenditures were $117.5 billion in 2015, compared to $114 billion in 2014 and $113.3 billion in 2013. Dental expenditures accounted for 3.7% of overall national health expenditures, down from 2000’s peak of 4.5% but still comparable to recent years.
The ADA notes that the increase could be the result of increased dental care utilization among children and adults covered by the recent Medicaid expansion. Dental expenditures financed by public sources have risen from 2% in 1990 to 12% in 2015, with a significant decrease in out-of-pocket spending since its peak in 2008. This shift in public funding also may reflect reduced private dental benefits, which are having an effect on the profession as well.