Dentists, General

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About the Job

Examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums. May treat diseases of nerve, pulp, and other dental tissues affecting oral hygiene and retention of teeth. May fit dental appliances or provide preventive care.

It is also Called

  • Treatment Coordinator
  • Public Health Dentist
  • Periodontist
  • Pediatric Dentist
  • General Dentist/Owner
  • General Dentist
  • Family Dentist
  • Endodontist
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)
  • Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)
View All

What They Do

  • Produce or evaluate dental health educational materials.
  • Bleach, clean, or polish teeth to restore natural color.
  • Plan, organize, or maintain dental health programs.
  • Perform oral or periodontal surgery on the jaw or mouth.
  • Eliminate irritating margins of fillings and correct occlusions, using dental instruments.
  • Apply fluoride or sealants to teeth.
  • Analyze or evaluate dental needs to determine changes or trends in patterns of dental disease.
  • Manage business aspects such as employing or supervising staff or handling paperwork or insurance claims.
  • Remove diseased tissue, using surgical instruments.
  • Treat exposure of pulp by pulp capping, removal of pulp from pulp chamber, or root canal, using dental instruments.


People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: IRS.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Investigative interests, but also prefer Realistic and Social environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Independence, but also value Achievement and Relationships in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Preparation Required

Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).


In 2016, the average annual wage in California was $164,330


avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 16,600 people in California. It is projected that there will be 19,100 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 250 openings due to growth and about 340 replacement openings for approximately 590 total annual openings.