Dentistry, and its specialties will continue to fair well in the future. In fact, there will most likely be a shortage of dentists in the next ten years. That's the good news, I think. The bad news is that getting into dental school is very competitive. Over 1000 applicants applied to the University of Detroit Mercy last year for a class of approximately 75 students. The grade point average when applying should be 3.5 or above. Also, community involvement, observation time in a dentist's office, and good scores on the Dental Admissions Tests (DAT), will weigh heavily on your application. Your admissions interview is also very important and should be taken seriously. The profession of dentistry, starting at the dental schools, is very interested in the character and ethics of those entering the profession, therefore anything that you can offer the admissions office that says something about your character and ethics would be very helpful.
Once you are accepted the next battle is the cost. Most dentists graduate with student loan debts over $120,000 and then there is the little issue of setting up an office which is going to be another $300,000 even for the smallest of offices. All these expenses come before you have even seen a patient! Since the loans for these expenses are often uncollateralized, interest rates will usually be higher. If you purchase an existing practice with proven cash flow, you are going to spend around $250,000 to $600,000, depending on the practice revenues over the last few years. Taking over a practice from a retiring dentist (the greatest dentist on earth) is very hard work. You are the "new" doc and there is no guarantee that the patients will stay with you once you purchase the practice. You are also become an employer, and you must be as committed to your employee's success as you are to your own. What I am saying, is that although financial success in dentistry is common, you must be the type of person that can accept delayed gratification. You must also be a "people person," and you must make a great first impression. Your success in dentistry will build strongly on your ability to communicate effectively.
This all may seem very hard, if not impossible. There are four things that will make all go easier, while allowing you enjoyment in this profession. These things are honesty, morals, ethics, and compassion. Don't get misled into believing that dentistry is one of those professions that allows you to get rich quick. It is hard work, and it your success will be based not only on your skills, but also your character.
For the most part, dentists do not view other dentists as competition. Therefore, you will always find a mentor in the dental community. Never be too proud to accept the helping hand from an experienced practitioner. That being said, I hope to see you as a colleague in the future!