California Pediatric Dentistry Careers

Pediatric dentists are the “pediatricians of dentistry,” says the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).  These professionals handle the oral care needs of infants, children, and adolescents (ages 10-19), as well as pediatric patients with special health needs. Many pediatric dentists have their own practices, while others may belong to a group practice or work in a hospital, clinic or government facility.

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

Pediatric Dentistry Education and Training Programs

In order to practice general 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). Pediatric dentists must complete two to three years of specialty training in addition to earning a DDS, DMD or other dental degree.

Pediatric dentistry students receive training through a combination of seminars, hospital rotations, grand rounds presentations and continuing education courses.  Areas of study typically include pediatric restorative dentistry, growth and development, orthodontics, preventive practices, sedation techniques, pediatric periodontal therapy, practice management, biostatistics, and special patient care.  

In addition to a dental degree and specialty training, all states require a dental license. Requirements may vary by state. To obtain a dental license in California, for example, applicant’s must:

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

Applicants must also complete and pass the California Law and Ethics Examination.

Pediatric Dentistry Schools and Training Programs in California

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry lists five accredited pediatric dental programs in the State of California. They include:

Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Lutheran Medical Center-Southern California, San Diego, CA
University of Southern California, Ostrow School of Dentistry, Los Angeles, CA
University of California Los Angeles School of Dentistry, Westwood, Venice, San Diego, CA
University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

These competitive two to three year programs accept just four to eight applicants each year.

Employment and Earnings Outlook for California Pediatric Dentists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not offer detailed employment and earnings information for pediatric dentists. However, it does offer information for the broader group “dentists.”  These figures should give you a good idea of the long-term employment and earnings outlook for pediatric dentists.

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

The State of California has experienced an increase as well. The state is home to 11,260 licensed dentists, up from 10,830 in 2008. The highest concentration of dentists in the state can be found in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metro area. They average $120,710 per year compared to the state average of $140,620 per year. However, of the states with the highest population of dentists (New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois), California offers the fourth highest average salary overall.

The Hanford-Corcoran Metro area has the tenth highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for California dentists. Professionals here average an impressive $215,320 per year, placing them at the top of the pay scale for California dentists.