Dental Anesthesiologist Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a dental anesthesiologist. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Anesthesia Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Dental Anesthesiologist?

A dental anesthesiologist is a licensed dentist who specializes in the administration of anesthesia. Prior to the operation, they meet with the patient to discuss their medical history, which they use to come up with a pain management strategy. During the procedure itself, they administer general and/or local anesthesia, monitor the patient's response and make any necessary changes to the dosage in order to ensure safe and effective treatment. Afterward, they may meet with the patient again to monitor recovery.

Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career as a dental anesthesiologist is right for you.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree minimum to enter dental school; DDS or DMD
Education Field of Study Premed sciences; anesthesiology; periodontology
Key Skills Communication, dexterity, leadership, and organizational skills
Licensure Required State licensure required in all states
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18% for all dentists*
Median Salary (2015) $152,700 for all general dentists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Do I Need to Practice?

Dental anesthesiologists must attain a permit or certification through their state. Each state details its own requirements, so you'll need to check your state's particular rules.

To give an example of state requirements, in New York, you must prove that you are a registered dentist licensed in the state. You need at least two years of training in an accredited, post-doctoral program in dental anesthesiology to apply. An accredited, graduate-level program in oral and maxillofacial surgery would also be acceptable. There are different requirements for the hours of training you've completed and the number of patients you've treated for permits in general anesthesia, parenteral conscious sedation and enteral conscious sedation. Other documents to submit include completion cards from Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) courses.

How Do I Get Certified?

The American Dental Board of Anesthesiology (ADBA) provides board certification for dental anesthesiologists. To be eligible for the ADBA certification exam, you must prove that you graduated from a dental school approved by the ADBA Board of Directors. You also need to provide evidence of licensure in the U.S. or Canada, demonstrate that you were educated in a dental anesthesiology program in the past six years and submit a copy of your permit to administer general anesthesiology as a dentist in the U.S. or Canada. The ADBA also requires copies of your BLS and ACLS completion cards (www.adba.org). If you took the oral and maxillofacial surgeon educational route, you can become board certified through the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (www.aboms.org).

What Might I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median annual salary for general dentists was $152,700 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The majority of dentists worked in dental offices. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons who worked in dental offices earned an average salary of $243,240 a year in 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

As a dentist, you could choose to work as a generalist or specialize in an area other than anesthesiology, such as orthodontics or periodontics, by completing a residency in that field. Alternatively, if you are interested in anesthesia administration, you could become an anesthesiologist and work in a medical setting. This would require you to complete a four-year Doctor of Medicine (MD) program and do a residency in anesthesiology. Another option is to become a nurse anesthetist. These advanced practice nurses are also experts in anesthesia administration in medical settings; they need a master's degree and a license to practice.

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