California Dentistry Careers

Dentist care for teeth and gums, treat oral conditions and diseases, and give patients advice on preventative dental care. Dentists may also fit patients for artificial teeth and refer patients in need of other procedures, such as surgery or orthodontics, to the appropriate specialist. While most dentists have their own practices, some may belong to a group practice or work in a hospital, clinic, or government facility.

While dentists practice in every state across the U.S., the largest population can be found in the State of California.

Dentistry Education and Training Programs

To practice dentistry in the U.S., you must hold a Doctorate degree from an accredited dental school and pass practical and written exams. The most common dental degrees are the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). While the DDS degree is more common, the curriculum for the DMD is the same.

All states require a license. To obtain a dental license in California, applicant’s must:

Provide satisfactory evidence of having graduated from a dental school program approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) or the Dental Board of California  
Provide satisfactory evidence of having passed parts I & II of the National Board Written Examination
Complete and pass the California Law and Ethics Examination

An accredited DDS or DMD training program typically takes 4 years to complete, full-time. The program usually covers biomedical and oral health sciences, competency in dental practice with an emphasis on general dentistry at all stages of life, clinical and professional studies (values, ethics, legal), and public health and externships.

Resident tuition for a dental degree program is typically $20,000+ per year and $30,000+ per year for non-residents. These estimates do not include textbooks, instruments, computer equipment, rent, meals, clothing, transportation, etc.

Dentistry Schools and Training Programs in California

California is home to a large number of accredited DDS, DMD, and Pre-Dentistry programs.  They include:

La Sierra University, Riverside, CA
Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, San Francisco, CA
University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA

Some of the state’s top Pre-Dentistry programs are offered at Pacific Union College in Angwin and at Pepperdine University in Malibu.

Employment and Earnings Outlook for California Dentists

California is home to 11,260 licensed dentists, up from 10,830 in 2008. The highest concentration of dentists here can be found in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metro area.  They earn an average salary of $120,710. The state average is $140,620 per year down slightly from $140,990 in 2008.

The Hanford-Corcoran Metro area has the tenth highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for California dentists. At $215,320 per year, they earn one of the highest average salaries for dentists in the nation. Of the states with the highest population of dentists (New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois), California offers the fourth highest salary.

Nationwide, dentists average $166,910 per year, up from $154,270 in 2008. The U.S. is home to 109,570 licensed dentists, up from 85,910 in 2008. For the 2010-2020 decade, the number of dentists is expected to  increase by 21 percent, adding an impressive 32,200 professionals to the pool.