Careers – Consider a Career as a Dentist

Consider a Career as a Dentist

What is dentistry?

Dentistry is the discipline concerned with oral health. Dentists are health care professionals involved in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders of the mouth and teeth.

Education and training

The practice of dentistry is a regulated health profession in Canada. A provincial or territorial regulatory body protects the public’s interest and restricts the use of the title of dentist or dental surgeon to its members.

The governing body in each province or territory sets practice standards and guidelines. Moreover, they issue licenses to those who meet the established qualifications.

According to the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials, all Canadian regulatory bodies ?recognize the certificate of the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB).? This recognition is essential in obtaining a dental license in Canada. To be eligible to write the examination, an individual must be a graduate of an accredited program in Canada or the United States.

Beyond the initial dental training, dentists may choose to take on a dental specialty. In order to be qualified as a specialist (e.g., pediatric dentistry), dentists must meet the specific licensure requirements of their specialty through the Royal College of Dentists of Canada (RCDC).

Admission information and requirements

There are 10 schools across Canada that offer the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree (DMD). While individual program requirements vary, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) states that there are prerequisite courses in science and math that need to be completed prior to commencing dental studies.

Specialty programs are offered at certain schools and it is advisable that applicants contact each school directly to ensure their area of interest is offered.

Where do dentists work?

Dentistry encompasses many areas of oral health. Many dentists work in community private practice settings. These practitioners have a flexible work schedule compared to those employed in other settings, such as hospitals. Alternatively, some dentists work in primary health facilities, teach at universities, or are involved in policy making at different levels of government.

The CDA anticipates strong job growth in the future. As fluoridation (such as that found in toothpaste and water) has decreased the incidence of dental decay, especially in children, the profession will transition toward a preventative approach utilizing public health strategies. As a result, dental public health is a specialty field that is growing in both interest and number of graduates.


Dentistry is a dynamic discipline. The CDA predicts the need for professional dental services will remain strong in the years ahead. Mass education and health policy initiatives have improved dental techniques and ultimately improved oral health.

However, the CDA cautions that gum disease continues as a serious threat, affecting 75 per cent of adults. Dental research is an area of growth, with funding and resources being poured into dental vaccines to prevent cavities, better developed materials, and procedures to enhance appearance.

Dentists? salaries vary based on experience and also the type of workplace. According to, dental salaries in Canada can start at over $70,000 for new graduates and rise well over $100,000 for experienced clinicians (See Chart 1 and Chart 2). The salaries of more specialized areas of dentistry vary but are higher than for general dentists. Dental specialists? salaries will vary depending on their area of specialization.

Chart 1. Median dentist salary based on years of experience

Source: Adapted from

Chart 2. Median dentist salary by type of workplace

Source: Adapted from

For more information regarding dentistry, please visit the Canadian Dental Association’s website.