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Dental Anesthesiologist: Salary, Requirements and Career Overview

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a dental anesthesiologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and accreditation standards to find out if this is the career for you.

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If you're interested in becoming a dental anesthesiologist, you must complete four years of dental school, followed by a two-year residency, and you must attain state licensure. Here you will find more details about the schooling required, as well as career information for this field.

Essential Information

Dental anesthesiologists are a group of specifically-trained dental specialists responsible for pain management in patients. Using a combination of general and local anesthetic, they ease the patient's discomfort and numb the necessary areas during oral surgery and other dental procedures. Given both the high-level training involved and the requirements for entering residency, many dentists have already begun practicing regular dentistry before and during their time spent earning credentials as an anesthesiologist.

Required Education Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS), Medicine (DDM) or Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD)
Other Requirements Completion of a dental anesthesiology residency, state licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% (for all other specialist dentists)*
Median Salary (2015) $171,000 (for all other specialist dentists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Requirements to be a Dental Anesthesiologist

In January 2007, the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) created a set of accreditation standards for residency programs in dental anesthesiology. In doing so, they made the field into an official dental specialty. Several schools in the United States now offer 2-year dental anesthesiology residency programs that have been approved by CODA, including the University of Pittsburgh, Ohio State University and Loma Linda University.

Dental School

Before branching into a specialty like anesthesiology, dental students must first complete their Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) at an accredited dental school. Most dental schools require applicants to have a bachelor's degree before they are accepted. The completion of a DDS, DDM or DMD program usually takes four years; as a result, the typical dental student must spend a total of eight years achieving the required credentials for a dental anesthesiology residency.

Dental school applicants are typically required to pass the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), the results of which become a major factor in acceptance. Once they have been accepted, dental students spend the next four years working with science and laboratory studies specifically related to the field, as well as acquiring a great deal of valuable clinical experience.

Residency

Dental school graduates who hold a DDS, DDM or DMD, and who have also completed the National Board Dental Examination Part I, and Part II if available, may then apply for a dental anesthesiology residency. The first year of residency often involves further coursework and conferences, with a heavy focus on subjects such as cardiology, surgical procedures, patient care, medical responsibilities and, of course, anesthesiology and intravenous sedation.

Hospital rotations and clinical duties begin in the first year and continue through the second, focusing on the process of pre-evaluation, anesthesia delivery, post-evaluation and developing pain management techniques. Students also practice anesthesiology on a wide variety of patients, including seniors, children and the disabled. Toward the end of the program, residents are required to complete a research project and/or deliver a series of lectures on their field. After graduation, the dentist is eligible for membership in the American Society of Dental Anesthesiologists and the chance to achieve status as a diplomate.

Salary Information for Dental Anesthesiologist

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not offer specific information on the expected salary for a dental anesthesiologist, it does offer salary information for all other dental specialists, a category that includes dental anesthesiology. According to the BLS, the median hourly wage for these dental specialists was $82.21 per hour as of May 2015, which equates to an annual salary of $171,000 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that the lowest-paid ten percent of dental specialists at that time received a median salary of $37,800.

Dental anesthesiology is a dental specialty, with the goal of helping patients manage pain. Those who complete a residency in this field are trained in subjects like patient care, medical responsibilities and sedation, and complete a hospital rotation. Demand for all dental specialists, including those who practice dental anesthesiology, is expected to increase by 9% through the year 2024.

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