Dentist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Dentist, or Dental Surgeon, is responsible for performing oral surgery and routine cleanings on patients. Their duties include repairing and removing teeth, diagnosing conditions and communicating with patients about how to best care for their teeth and gums.

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Dentist duties and responsibilities

Use this section to explain what your new hire will be expected to do on the job and what they will need to do well. You should include information about how your new Dentist will fit within your organization or practice. Some common responsibilities for a Dentist include:

  • Fixing or removing damaged teeth
  • Filling cavities
  • Performing exams and evaluating x-rays to determine a patient’s health
  • Developing treatment plans to deal with any dental health issues
  • Administering or prescribing medications to decrease pain and improve patient health
  • Interacting with patients and instruct them on proper oral care
  • Measuring and fitting dental appliances
  • Referring patients to a specialist if needed 
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What does a Dentist do?

Dentists typically work in dental offices or clinics, providing patients with cleanings and more in-depth procedures like root canals and cavity fillings. They work closely with Dental Hygienists to clean teeth and suggest treatment options and good hygiene practices for patients. Their job is to evaluate a patient’s oral health to spot cavities and diagnose conditions like Gingivitis and more severe diseases like oral cancer before they develop further. They may also take X-rays and provide patients with other professional resources for those who need braces or retainers.

Dentist skills and qualifications

In this section of your Dentist job description, discuss the skills and qualifications you are looking for in a Dentist. This is a very important section of the job description. Being thorough and detailed in this section can help draw in candidates who most align with your needs. You should include education prerequisites and previous experience. Qualifications for a Dentist include:

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) degree from a dental program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation
  • A state license to practice dentistry
  • Patience when dealing with patients
  • Ability to communicate with patients regarding their health and care
  • Good attention to detail 
  • Able to work with hands in small spaces
  • Good problem-solving skills

Dentist salary expectations

A Dentist makes an average of $203,902 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Dentist education and training Requirements

Dentists must first earn a bachelor’s degree that includes classes in biology and chemistry. Many Dentists graduate with a degree in a science such as biology. To be admitted to a dental school, Dentists must have excellent grades and recommendations, undergo an interview and pass the Dental Admission Test. Dental schools combine coursework and clinical experience to prepare students to become dentists. 

Upon graduation from dental school, candidates will be awarded either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) degree. In order to practice dentistry, candidates must be licensed by their state which requires them to pass the National Board Dental Examinations as well as a state and regional clinical exam.

Dentist experience requirements

Dentists can be hired right out of dental school once they receive their license to practice from your state. Many offices prefer that candidates have a few years of experience before they are hired.

Dentist job description samples for similar positions

If you’re looking for candidates for similar roles to the Dentist, see our job description templates for related positions:

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Frequently asked questions about Dentists


What is the difference between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

The difference between a Dentist and an Orthodontist is that Dentists focus more on oral hygiene and health. In contrast, Orthodontists specialize in the positioning of the teeth and the jaw. For example, Dentists can fill cavities, perform cleanings, repair broken teeth and insert implants. In contrast, Orthodontists work to correct teeth misalignment by inserting expanders, fitting individuals for braces and preparing molds for retainers. Orthodontists can also perform certain oral surgeries to correct teeth alignment.


What are the daily duties of a Dentist?

On an average day, A Dentist starts by reviewing their patient list for the day. This allows them to get prepared and ensure they have the right tools at their disposal. Throughout the day, Dentists meet with patients to inspect their teeth and overall gum health. If they spot a cavity or another potential condition, they ask a Dental Hygienist to mark the tooth number and make a note of it. This procedure allows them to review their notes later on and check on the condition at future appointments. 

If a patient has one or more cavities, the Dentist will have the schedule an appointment at the front desk for a filling. During their workday, a Dentist might have to perform an emergency procedure for an unscheduled patient who injured their tooth or suddenly started experiencing severe oral pain.


What makes a good Dentist?

A good Dentist is someone who stays updated on new dental practices and equipment that will enhance their patients’ experiences. They have a kind and personable nature that helps ease their patients’ nerves and makes them look forward to a dental visit. They should also exhibit superb attention to detail to identify potential problems early on. This can help promote better oral health for their patients in the future.


Who do Dentists report to?

Dentists typically manage themselves, especially if they own a clinic. In this situation, a Dentist only needs to report to the American Dental Association to ensure that their current practices align with national standards. However, in larger dental clinics with multiple Dentists, there can be a Senior Dentist role. Senior Dentists can perform more in-depth procedures and other Dentists at the clinic look to them for guidance.

Job Description Examples

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