When thinking about what field to major in, the idea of cleaning or repairing teeth turns many students off from working in dentistry. But the dental community comprises numerous professionals outside of general dentists and dental hygienists.
Does the idea of cleaning other people’s teeth make you want to run for the hills? If you’d rather not poke and prod in other people’s mouths, check out these career options in the field that don’t involve teeth cleaning.
1. Dental Assistant
Unlike dental hygienists, dental assistants aren’t qualified to perform cleanings and identify cavities, so that means no gum prodding for you!
As a dental assistant, you will take patient medical history, teach patients about oral hygiene, sterilize instruments, and perform office management tasks. You may also help the dentist during surgical procedures.
The good news is that you can start with on-the-job-training--although some dental assistants get a technical diploma--and you can make around $34,500 per year, says BLS.gov.
2. Dental Lab Technician
If you’re not keen on working directly with patients yet the dental field still fascinates you, perhaps a career as a dental lab technician is right for you. These people are part of the behind-the-scenes crew and are in charge of manufacturing crowns and other prostheses by using x-rays and molds. This is a truly artistic craft, ideal for those students who want to earn a living by bridging the gap between art and health.
To become a dental lab technician, you can receive on-the-job training, but most employers prefer applicants have training through a community college. You can earn around $39,780 per year doing this.
3. Oral Health Promotion Professional
If you have a passion for oral health and for educating others about it, consider becoming an oral health promotion professional. You may work with various companies or organizations creating ideas to promote oral health across the community. Working in corporate areas, you might collaborate with marketing teams to promote healthy oral practices, or you may work with corporate employees on various areas of health, teaching them proper techniques for ensuring optimum oral health.
While the education requirements for this position will vary greatly, consider getting a background in dental health or health promotion first, whether through on-the-job training or by receiving a health-related degree. Health educators and community health workers like this make around $41,830 per year.
4. Oral Researcher
Oral researchers may spend some of their training sticking fingers in patient’s mouths since they go thruogh dental school, but much of oral research is done in the lab and off the patient floor. Most oral researchers are Ph.D. students, but you may continue your research after training.
Oral researchers are individuals who study aspects of oral health and find solutions on how to improve it. For example, researchers may study tooth enamel and create new toothpaste recipes to strengthen the teeth.
Assistant researchers make around $50,000 annually, and experienced senior researchers can make over $100,000 per year, says ABC.net.
5. Dental Office Manager
Dental office managers have a unique position in the dental field. Unlike most dental professionals, office managers don’t work anywhere near patients’ mouths, yet they still hold an important position. Without them, the dental office would be a chaotic mess.
Dental office managers spend their days overseeing staff, ensuring supplies are in stock, planning events, working with vendors, and performing other duties that help the office processes run effectively.
There are not any post-secondary educational requirements to become an office manager, although experience in office management is usually required. Employers are often looking for individuals who understand the dental business, have excellent organizational and leadership skills, and have experience in a general office environment. These professionals get paid $51,000 per year on average.
Tell us what you think. You can’t see yourself cleaning or repairing teeth, but can you see yourself in one of these alternative dental positions? Share your ideas in the comment section below.