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Outlook for Dentistry

Discussion in 'Pre-Dental' started by Shark007, Oct 13, 2002.

  1. Shark007

    Shark007 Junior Member
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    I think Dentistry is a great field. I am a little concerned about what the future has for the field. I am applying this year and being over $200,000 in debt can make anyone a little nervous about how the profession will look 4 years from now. Two things that worry me are:

    1. The career outlook calls for a slower than average growth for dentistry. It seems most jobs will be from the replacement of old dentists.

    2. A vaccine that will get rid of caries, which is suppose to be a reality within 10 years. I would imagine (except for orthodontics) this would have a big impact on the profession.

    Tell me I am worrying for no reason. Please share your thoughts. And is anyone thinking of doing the navy or army program to repay the school debt?
     
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  3. UBTom

    UBTom Class '04 official geezer
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    Hi,

    1) Replacing old dentists is nothing to sneeze at. Remember that you will be taking over their patient pools from which they earned their keep all this time. ;)

    2) A caries vaccine is nice... But who is going to pay for it? There is already all the controversy about paying for vaccinating the American population against potential bioterror pathogens like anthrax, smallpox etc., which are of higher priority than caries. Sure a vaccine will become available, but it is unlikely that within the next 50 years it will reach all 280 million Americans.

    A caries vaccine is also no panacea for all dental ills. It will do absolutely nothing to prevent periodontal disease or other oral disorders (mucosal, salivary, TMJ, ortho, etc.) that dentists treat. On top of that there are plenty of people out there looking to have elective aesthetic procedures done like bonding and such..

    Personally I think dentistry still has a pretty good future, probably good enough for me to earn my keep for the rest of my life. :D
     
  4. slave4MD

    slave4MD Member
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    You're right. There is reason to worry. Average salary of dentists are 75k - 150k and 30k - 100k ( yes, that is 30k ) depending on what sources you look. (http://www.healthprofessions.com/careers/dentist.htm and
    http://www.careerfest.net/career/db/career.asp?careerid=29 )

    In the military, you'll be compensated for your school debts but your yearly salary will be similar to those of college grads. You might be stationed at the most foreign and dangerous place on earth, not to mention the possibility of getting killed should a conflict erupt there.

    On the other hand, know that you''ll be starting your own business and expect some competition when another dentists decides to set up shop near your new clinic. Remember that dentists usually see less patients than they really want. You will lose to insurance policies as well.

    Last, I want to point out major dental school closings at Loyola, Univ. of Rochester, and Northwestern Univ. due to lack of funding.

    Good luck.
     
  5. UBTom

    UBTom Class '04 official geezer
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    to slave4MD:

    There are far more facets to those issues than you assume.

    Those salary numbers you quoted are a bit too overgeneralized. For example, do you know which dentists are the ones earning $35K a year? The answer is those with HPS obligations or those in residencies or specialty training. NOT PRIVATE PRACTICE. Those going into private practice can expect to make upwards of $75K during their first year.

    In addition, the military is NOT the only government agency with HPS programs. Try the U.S. Health Service, the Indian Health Service, and a handful of others for whom the scholarship recipient would serve at an underpriviledged area (like Native American reservations) where dental care is scarce. Public dentistry is a fulfilling field for those who have a moral desire to serve despite the lower salary, and they are not obligated to go to a war zone.

    As far as private practice is concerned, how you practice is up to you. You can choose to work at an upscale comprehensive-treatment group practice where you are Always Busy, and you work with other dentists and specialists rather than compete against them (which also spreads out the litigation risks). Or you can set up your own quiet single-dentist office somewhere and see three patients a day and worry about the competition across the street (and succeed at it if you got the business acumen). And as far as insurance goes, a dentist is within his rights to inform a patient before rendering treatment that the patient has to pay the balance if insurance does not totally cover the procedure.

    Dental schools like GWU, Northwestern etc. close because they are expensive to run. But how do they impact the livelihood of a dentist in private practice? Not much, except it shrinks the source of new dentists coming into the profession. Might I also note that there are two new dental schools opening up at UNLV (they start this year) and Arizona (they start next year).

    Dentistry is like any other profession. How much you get out of it depends on how much effort you put into it. Not that I'm trying to promote the profession to which I will be joining in two years, but if dentistry's outlook seems too worrysome for you or does not look like something you want to do for the rest of your life, then don't do it! :D
     
  6. slave4MD

    slave4MD Member
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    Those undergoing residency or specialty training are not dentists.
     
  7. UBTom

    UBTom Class '04 official geezer
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    Wrong again.

    Those enrolled in dental residency or specialty programs ARE dentists.

    For someone who is applying to dental school you sure don't seem to know much about the profession... Not that I'm putting you down or anything, but at this point I think it's safe to say that I probably know a bit more about dentistry than you, me being a 3rd-year dental student and you being only a prospective applicant and all.. :D

    For your information, you have to finish dental school with your DDS degree and graduate as a full-fledged dentist BEFORE you can enter residency or specialty training.
     
  8. gryffindor

    Dentist 10+ Year Member

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    slave4MD - are you pre-dent? Because that MD in your name makes me think "pre-med." When did the University of Rochester have a dental school? It's not one of the schools that closed in the last 15 years or so. Besides, they still offer post-graduate dental education (and have some of the best programs in the country there for stuff like ortho, prostho, etc). The dental schools that closed were all PRIVATE dental schools that couldn't afford to keep their doors open due to the very expensive cost of dental education.

    UBTom is right - $30,000 is how much a resident makes in some parts of this country. A resident in NYC makes close to $50,000. No dentist in private practice makes $30,000 a year, unless they work maybe 1 day a week and choose to do so. Even starting salaries in the army and other government agencies is higher than that number.

    shark007 - most jobs probably are from replacing retiring dentists. But that's not such a bad situation right now, b/c there are more retiring than graduating. There are dentists out there having a hard time selling their practices b/c graduates have more options and therefore don't have to buy the first practice they see.

    The caries vaccine is possible, but not mainstream-reality. Last year our professor commented on why the caries vaccine will always have such a low priority and may never be accepted. If you administer the caries vaccine or any vaccine for that matter - Mumps, Chicken pox, Rubella, whatever - there is always the possibility that the patient's body will have issues with the vaccine and the patient may die. Happens to very few, but is still a reality. However, we still give vaccinces for mumps because the chance you will die from the vaccine is much less than the chance you will die from actually getting mumps.

    The difference with caries is CARIES DOESN'T KILL ANYONE. Having a cavity does not result in death - find a report to prove otherwise. So we cannot ethically justify giving a caries vaccine that may potentially kill the patient, whereas having the actual disease wouldn't kill them. Unless they can make the vaccine 100% risk-free, I really don't see major public health efforts to incorporating this vaccine into everyone's lives.

    Cheer up shark, none of my professors have yet to tell us "Run the other way! Abandon dentistry as fast as you can! It's not worth it!" Instead, they only have positive things to say about the profession and its future. The Army and Navy scholarships are probably not a bad idea if you are going to attend a private school, but I would talk to people out there who are serving the payback terms of the scholarships before signing up.
     
  9. Big_Poppa DDS

    Big_Poppa DDS Senior Member
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    I am a first year dentist, and I can tell you that probably the average starting salary of the people from my class that are working in either group or private practice is about 90 k.
     
  10. ItsGavinC

    Dentist Moderator Emeritus 15+ Year Member

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    Poppa -- thanks for chiming in! I haven't heard much from you since you've graduated, and it's good to see that you still have a pulse. :)


    Shark,

    To answer your initial question: Some worry is good, after all, the decisions you will make in the next few years are important ones.

    Worrying about the profession of dentistry as a whole is not necessary, however. Simply put: the profession is currently at the best place it has ever been. This may be viewed in terms of income, working conditions, education, work hours, technological advancements, and any other number of facets.
     
  11. crimson

    crimson What up Smokey!
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    I met a dentist practicing in US Virgin Islands earlier this year. She is grossing seven figures currently and enjoying all the sun and sand. That's enough motivation for me.
    (although I am totally interested in working at native american reservations, nothing like dreams of sun and sand;) )
     
  12. tinker bell

    tinker bell 1K Member
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    I suggest that before enter the profession, one does a thorough research about it.
    An MD cannot practice right after medical school. S/he has to go to a residency.
    A dentist does not need to go into any residency program. And dentist in residency program are real dentist. I mean, they get to practice in their own clinic room, not together with the dental students.
    At dental school, there is a predoctoral clinic for dental students.
    Residents practice in doctoral clinics.
    Residents are real dentist. They study for another degree. It's usually an MS degree combine with their specialty training. MS degree can be oral biology, or any specific discipline in biology.
    Don't ever mistake a resident and a student.
    T
     

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