By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Dentistry declined as a profession with increased awareness of dental health and fluoride and, by the end of the 80’s, applications to dental schools fell below 5,000 from 16,000 in the 70’s. Dental schools at seven prominent universities closed.

But, with boomer generation dentists retiring and vanity procedures like whitening, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 16% growth, or the need for 23,000 dentists.

According to an article in The New York Times, since 1997, twelve schools have opened and existing programs have expanded. Admission in the nation’s 65 dental schools, is highly competitive; the University of Southern California admitted 144 of its 3200 applicants and Tufts enrolled 176 of its 4400 – typically biology, chemistry or physics majors with good hand/eye coordination skills.

Dentists will have a large median debt of $200,00 with a median expected salary of $125,000; and the good news is, unlike doctors, dentists can begin practicing at the end of 4 years.

Watch & Listen LIVE