Career Options in Dentistry

I have always believed that every specialization is good in itself, having its own share of uniqueness and a person can be the best in just any field he is in by commitment and hard work. Like any other dental graduate I had this time in my life when deciding on what I do after my graduation was a big question. This has been quite a perennial question in all the freshly graduated students. With so many specialization to choose from and with the options of general or specialized practice one is left quite confused what to do and whom to ask for guidance. Let me try to address various career options available to a dental graduate.

1) Academics: One can choose to be in academics being a full time academician. This is possible after any specialization (i.e. periodontics, prosthodontics, etc..), one can be a full time faculty in the department of his /her field of specialization. An additional PhD would be helpful for a full time faculty.

2) Basic research: A good training in basic research is necessary and can be attained with a good masters or PhD program. Additional training can also be obtained by working as post doc in specific areas of interest. Areas such as biomaterials, immunology, microbiology are few areas one can look into but generally the field of research vastly depends on ones own interest. Basic research mainly deals with research carried out in the lab setup or studies on animal models or epidemiological studies. Basic research is always in demand and is the cornerstone for all the new techniques and new materials been developed.

3) Clinical research: A specialization in any particular field with additional training in research is necessary. This field basically deals with clinical testing of the materials discovered/invented in the lab (basic research). Translation of the results obtained in the lab setting into a clinical setup, for example, testing various bone graft materials already tested in animals on to human subjects ,looking for efficacy of drugs, or testing different tooth implant systems in a clinical setting. This is a very interesting field especially to those who are good clinicians and are inclined towards research. Specialized program for training in clinical research are also available.

4) General or specialized private practice: This is possible with either a DDS/BDS alone or with additional specialized training in various fields respectively. Various centers and institute provide specialized training in implants, cosmetic and esthetics dentistry, endodontics and others which span from few days to few weeks or a year. Such training helps those candidates who are not much interested in a masters program but want additional knowledge to start their own specialized dental office.

5) Combination of the above: Few individuals who are good at multitasking do try this by being a part time academician and part time into private practice. Also the other combination which usually works out is being a academician and researcher. These combinations can often be rewarding as they help being adjunctive to each other and also keep out boredom of a single routine job.

6)Private Sector: Those who are not into the usual dental jobs and have a eye for change can sign up for business school. Now what am I talking about? Well a master in business administration will help you to join the private sector as a consultant for various industries dealing with dental materials/ dental consumer products. A master in hospital management/ public health may help you to work at administrative position in various hospitals. Those interested in research in private sector can think of working in industries with clinical testing various dental materials and dental consumer products with a PhD or good research experience at hand.

7) Organisations and Goverments: Masters in public health would help those interested in epidemiologic studies or taking up jobs which include making strategies to combat disease and helping governments and non government agencies plan and induct preventive programs. They also have options of joining agencies like WHO or various UN agencies.

The various options to the dentist in so many different countries are limited and these graduates look to continue their future studies in countries like USA and UK. I have received so many emails asking for the procedure to get into US dental schools. Let me try to briefly sum up few steps in how to go about it.
The first thing to be understood is that you need to get license to practice in US, most of which can be learned by visiting the ADA website ( All international dental graduates (other than from US and Canadian dental schools), are required to complete an additional 2-3 years of DDS training in a US dental school. The list of the dental schools can be found on the ADA website ( and the requirements of each university mentioned on the respective websites. Ideally you would need your TOEFL scores, 2-3 letters of recommendations and statement of purpose and national board examination scores ( The other important thing to be noted is that the fees for the dental schools vary between 60,000 – 85,000$ per year and financial aid to foreign dentist in form of scholarships/stipend is mostly not available and other financial aids are very limited, the exact details of this can be found on the university website. More information can be also found on
Many students initially join the masters in public health/oral biology, this also helps them adjust to US and to prepare for the national board exams. Kaplan used to provide I-20 to students who enroll for their national board examination training, which students can use to apply for the F-1 visa. This has been very recently stopped, you can find more of it on this groups ( A good score in NBDE exams is essential as there is a very stiff competition for the limited seats of the Advanced DDS program for the international graduates.

Those wishing to go in for PhD need to submit your GRE scores, TOEFL scores, recommendation letters and statement of purpose. Mostly the PhD students are paid a monthly stipend and have the tuition fees covered by the university/department. You need to decide which university you want to apply by looking in to each university website and finding out if research in area of your interest is been carried out in that university. Also important is to find out if that particular professor with whom you want to work has an approved grant and is willing to sponsor you, and this can be found by looking up the university website and/or by directly contacting the professor. These are few of the pre requisites of an application. Most universities offering doctoral studies can be found on

Wishing every aspirant the very best!


shameem said...

Di Vinayak, Thank you so much I have been really trying to obtain some basic information on studying abroad and its great to see how well you have compiled all the information.

Flexoplex said...

Thanks for sharing Such a nice information

with us.I really like your Information Which

you have provided.


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