Employment of dentists is projected to grow 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for dental services will increase as the population ages, cosmetic dental services become increasingly popular, and access to health insurance continues to grow.
Many members of the growing and aging baby-boom generation will need dental work. Because each generation is more likely to keep their teeth than past generations, more dental care will be needed in the years to come. In addition, there will be increased demand for complicated dental work, including dental implants or bridges. The risk of oral cancer increases significantly with age, and complications can require both cosmetic and functional dental reconstruction.
Cosmetic dental services, such as teeth-whitening treatments, are becoming increasingly popular. This trend is expected to continue as new technologies allow for less invasive, faster procedures.
Dentists will continue to see an increase in public demand for their services as studies continue to link oral health to overall health. They will need to provide care and instruction aimed at promoting good oral hygiene, rather than just providing treatments such as fillings.
Dentists are likely to hire more hygienists and dental assistants to handle routine services. Productivity increases derived from new technology, such as digital dentistry and radiography, should allow dentists to reduce the time needed to see each patient. As a result, dentists will be able to expand their practices and see more patients.
Whether patients seek care is dependent largely on their insurance coverage. The number of individuals who have access to health insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform. People with new or expanded dental insurance coverage will be more likely to visit a dentist than in the past.
Job prospects for dentists are expected to be good. There are still areas of the country where patients need dental care but have little access to it. Job prospects will be especially good for dentists who are willing to work in these areas.
In addition, many dentists are expected to retire in the next decade and replacement workers will be needed to fill those positions.
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Health diagnosing and treating practitioners
Total, all occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program