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Cosmetic Dentist: Job Description, Salary and Requirements

A cosmetic dentist is responsible for maintaining the aesthetics of patients' teeth and gums. Aspiring cosmetic dentists must first complete dental school. Acceptance into dental school typically requires a bachelor's degree and an exam. All states in the U.S. require a cosmetic dentist be licensed, as well.

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Job Description for a Cosmetic Dentist

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, a cosmetic dentist is responsible for improving the overall dental health of his or her patient through creating and maintaining aesthetic balance and function of teeth (www.aacd.com). Dentists care for and treat problems in the mouth, including the teeth and the gums, by providing advice on mouth care and performing corrective surgeries. While most dentists work as general practitioners, some specialize, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Cosmetic dentists specialize in elective, aesthetic dentistry, including bleaching, bonding, placing porcelain laminates and replacing fillings. A general practitioner may perform certain aspects of cosmetic dentistry, as well.

Salary of a Cosmetic Dentist

According to the BLS, the median salary for all other dentist specialists, which would include cosmetic dentists, was $154,990 in May 2012. Dentist salaries typically depend on location, experience, speciality and hours worked, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Requirements for a Cosmetic Dentist

A cosmetic dentist must first complete dental school, earning either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.). Most accredited dental schools require a minimum of two years of college prior to entering a program, but a bachelor's degree is more commonly preferred. Along with completing entrance interviews and providing recommendations, dental school applicants must meet a school's score requirement for the Dental Admissions Test.

Most dental school programs last four years and include traditional classroom instruction in chemistry or biology, as well as laboratory work in microbiology, physiology and anatomy. Hands-on dental experience typically takes place in the last two years of dental school, under the supervision of a licensed dentist in a clinical setting.

Licensure

A cosmetic dentist must also become licensed. State licensing requires the passing of the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE), used to assess an individual's knowledge of dental sciences. Each state requires the passing the written and clinical examinations, according to the American Dental Association (www.ada.org).

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics