Cosmetic Dentistry Career and Education Facts

Find out what careers are available in cosmetic dentistry. Get information on degree programs, and see what the opportunities are for specializing in this field. Schools offering Dental Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Cosmetic dentistry involves procedures that improve the appearance of one's teeth, such as whitening, bonding and applying veneers, implants and fillings. You may specialize in fields such as orthodontics, prosthodontics and periodontology, all of which include various cosmetic dentistry procedures.

Degrees Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate
Future Career Options Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienist, Dentist
Training 2-4 years of postgraduate training required for prospective dentists

What Does a Career in Cosmetic Dentistry Look Like?

If you're interested in working in the field of cosmetic dentistry, you can become a dental assistant, dentist hygienist or dentist. Only a high school diploma is necessary if you want to be a dental assistant, while you have the option to earn an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree to become a dental hygienist. To become a dentist, you'll need extensive graduate and postgraduate training.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that positions for both dentists and dental assistants are set to grow 19%, much faster than average, between the years of 2016 and 2026. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for dentists was $158,120 per year as of May 2017, while the median annual pay for dental assistants was $37,630. Similarly, job growth for dental hygienists is set to increase by 20% in the same decade, with hygienists making an annual median salary of $74,070.

How Can I Get a Degree as a Dental Hygienist?

To become a hygienist, you must complete training and become licensed in the state in which you want to work. An associate's degree program in dental hygiene can take two or three years to complete. You can also opt for a bachelor's or master's degree program. During your course of study, you'll learn about:

  • The anatomy of the head and neck, including the teeth and gums
  • Dental hygiene principles
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Radiology
  • Nutrition

As a licensed hygienist, you may be authorized to perform procedures such as tooth whitening and polishing with the supervision of a dentist. In some states, your dental hygienist license authorizes you to administer local anesthesia.

How Can I Get a Degree in Dentistry?

To become a dentist, you'll need to complete undergraduate courses and graduate from dental school. Dental school prerequisite courses include chemistry, physics and biology. You'll then complete four years of dental school, which will provide you with both classroom and clinical instruction. Your dental school coursework will include:

  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Histology
  • Oral Health
  • Periodontics
  • Endodontics

You'll also need to become licensed before you may practice as a dentist. Your state may require that you pass written or practical examinations to obtain your license.

Can I Choose to Specialize in Cosmetic Dentistry?

The American Dental Association has yet to recognize cosmetic dentistry as a specialty ( However, you can perform cosmetic dental procedures in a variety of fields. For instance, while orthodontics does have health benefits, specialists in this field also take care of cosmetic concerns including overbites and overcrowding. If you choose to specialize in prosthodontics, you'll prepare dental implants which may provide cosmetic changes. After graduating from dental school, you'll need to complete 2-4 years of postgraduate training if you want to specialize.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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