Dentists evaluate, diagnose, prevent, and treat diseases, disorders, and conditions of the soft and hard tissues of the jaw (mandible), the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body.

Dentists can choose to practice either general dentistry or specialize in one of the following areas: dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and dental facial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, or prosthodontics.

There is a wide range of career opportunities including: private practice, academic dentistry, dental research, service in the federal government, public healthcare policy, and international healthcare.


Dentists complete a 4-year graduate level program (note: specialization requires additional schooling) leading to the award of one of the following, equivalent, degrees:

  • Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)

There are around 60 dental programs in the United States.