Montana Dental Association Montana Dental Association

Careers in the Dental Profession

Choosing a career can be one of the most challenging decisions one faces. We urge you to consider a career in the exciting and dynamic field of dentistry. This section offers a wealth of information concerning the different disciplines, training programs, and career options available within the dental profession. Persons in the dental professions have a strong social commitment to helping others.

Some of the careers available in the dental field include:


Dentistry is a rewarding professional career. Dentists practice in a wide variety of practice settings ranging from traditional private practice to community health clinics that care for underserved populations.

Dentists are some of the most trusted, valued, and essential members of the medical community. In addition to providing crucial oral disease prevention, they also enrich patients' lives by performing surgical restoration and cosmetic improvement. Dentists work with state-of-the-art technology and the ever-evolving nature of dental technique affords opportunities for continual learning and creativity. Eighty percent of dental professionals are self-employed general practitioners, allowing unique opportunities such as flexible hours and the ability to determine your own workload.

To prepare for a career in dentistry, prospective students should receive broad exposure to math and science while in high school. A college degree is then recommended, with a focus on organic and inorganic chemistry, biology, and physics. The American Dental Association suggests students take the DAT (Dental Admissions Test) one year before entering one of the 55 ADA-accredited dental schools in the U.S.

For more information on careers in dentistry, visit the following helpful sites:

ADA Dentist Brochure

ADA Dental Career Fact Sheet

There are numerous loan repayment programs available to help students interested in pursuing a career in dentistry. To learn more about loan repayment programs, visit the following sites:

Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists use their clinical and interpersonal skills to prevent disease and promote oral health to their patients. They counsel patients regarding nutrition and prevention of oral disease, as well as assist dentists in the removal of calculus and plaque and the application of fluoride and sealants.

Two years of college training is required to become a hygienist. Upon receiving an associates’ degree, candidates may take licensure exams from state and national agencies that will allow them to practice

For more information on a career as a dental hygienist, visit the following site:

ADA Hygienist Brochure

Dental Assistants

Dental Assistants support dentists and provide a number of dental services. They can begin their careers without a college degree and learn through on-the-job training or a formal education program. Some of the services dental assistants provide are supporting dentists chair-side, taking and processing x-rays, informing patients about their oral health, and performing various office management-related tasks. The outlook for salary and placement of dental assistants depends on the kind of work performed and geographical location.

For more information on a career as a dental assistant, visit the following sites:

ADA Dental Assistant Brochure

Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)

Dental Lab Technicians

If you’re interested in working in health care, enjoy working independently with your hands, and have a flair for the arts, a career as a dental lab technician may be ideal for you. Dental laboratory technicians serve several essential functions in the dental office, including manufacture of prostheses – replacements for lost or damaged teeth that allow patients improved functions and appearance. To this end, they work with a variety of state-of-the-art materials including plastics, precious and non-precious alloys, porcelains and polymer glass combinations.

Although a college degree is suggested, one may also begin a career as a dental tech through on-job-training or a two-year training program.

For more information on a career as a dental lab technician, visit the following site:

ADA Dental Technician Brochure


Other helpful sites may be accessed through the following:

ADA Career Resource Center



Montana Dental Association
38 South Last Chance Gulch, Ste. 205
P.O. Box 1154
Helena, Montana 59624

800-257-4988 (In Montana only)
406-443-2061 (in the Helena area)
Fax: 406-443-1546