Dental Specialists treat a specific area of oral problems, in which they have received additional training in addition to or instead of general dentistry. American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes nine different categories of Dental Specialties, such as Endodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons , oral and maxillofacial radiology , oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedists, periodontists, prosthodontists , Pediatric dentists , and Dental public health.
The responsibilities of Dental Specialists differ according to their area of expertise. For example, oral and maxillofacial surgeons provide diagnostic services and treatment for injuries, diseases, and defects of the neck, head jaw, and associated structures, while periodontists perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum disease.
Dental Specialists can practice alone or involve in a group practice. They can also work in different settings such as public or private hospitals, oral health care facilities, dental research facilities etc. Most of them work full time. Some of them may work during evenings and weekends, if required.
To qualify for the position of a Dental Specialist, the candidates have to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) and go through additional two-year training also known as post-graduate training in one area of nine dental specialties. These training programs include extremely specialized clinical practicum.
Most dental students need at least a four-year bachelor’s degree with a major in a science, such as biology; and must have to pass Dental Admission Test (DAT) to pursue DDS or DMD in an accredited dental school. It takes four years to complete a DDS or DMD. The course work includes anatomy, periodontology, local anesthesia, radiology. The students also get practical experience in a clinical setting under the supervision of a licensed dentist.
Certification and Licensure
The practice of Dental Specialist must be licensed in all states. To earn a license the candidates must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical exams. National Certifying Boards for Dental Specialists offer certification to these professionals.
Apart from clinical knowledge, a Dental Specialist possesses various skills such as high level of dexterity, excellent attention to detail, empathy towards patient, organizational skills, high medical ethics, effective communications and interpersonal skills, physical stamina to stand for long periods of time, competent in computer operations, etc.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for a Dental Specialist remains excellent across the USA. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 16% from 2012 to 2022. The average annual salary of a Dental Specialist was ranging from $168,580 to $219,600 in May 2014.