The Integral Role of Associate Dentist in Dental Care

Associate dentist contribute significantly to the dental profession, improve oral health outcomes, and make a positive impact on the lives of their patients
Associate dentist performing pulpectomy procedure (Wikimedia Commons)
Associate dentist performing pulpectomy procedure (Wikimedia Commons)



Associate dentists are dentists who practice clinical dentistry but are not the owners of the dental clinic. They work as either employees or on a contract basis. Depending on the agreement with the dental clinic, they may or may not require a written contract for the job. Some contracts state that they must remain in the practice for a specific period.

Some restrictive covenants may be included in the contract:

  • Non-compete clause: Forbid dentists from practicing within a specific geographical area if they leave their position.

  • Non-solicitation clause: Forbid the dentists from seeking other coworkers and patients.

A well-equipped dental clinic (Dr Anjali KV)
A well-equipped dental clinic (Dr Anjali KV)

Job description:

Associate dentists are responsible for doing all the clinical procedures that a dentist should know. The responsibilities include:

  • Full-mouth oral prophylaxis

  • Restoration

  • Extraction

  • Dental crowns and porcelain veneers

  • Removable partial denture and Complete denture

  • Dental implant crowns

  • Examining the patient’s oral cavity to diagnose and treat oral health issues.

  • Using X-rays and computer-generated imaging to assist with examinations

  • Teeth whitening

  • Administration of local anesthesia

  • Motivating patients on good oral hygiene

  • Prescribing antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Taking impressions for fabrication of mouthguards and dentures.

Associate dentist assisting in the removal of wisdom tooth (Wikimedia Commons)
Associate dentist assisting in the removal of wisdom tooth (Wikimedia Commons)

Administrative and soft skills:

  • Knowledge of dental insurance

  • Strong communication skills

  • Managing staff and appointments

Requirements to be an associate dentist:

  • Associate dentists are fully licensed dentists. They should fulfill the criteria according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

  • Completion of four years of BDS

  • BDS- Bachelor of Dental Surgery

  • Completion of any post-graduate residency training

  • Maintenance of an active license that should be renewed every 2-3 years.

What should associate dentists look for in a clinical practice?

Employment is the first criterion that associates should consider in practice. Here, they practice clinical dentistry and receive compensation to support their careers. Associates must be able to maintain good relationships with other team members such as dental assistants, chief doctors, and visiting doctors. The moral values and philosophies should be consistent with one another.

An associate dentist is not just a practitioner; they are architects of smiles, guardians of oral health, and partners in patient care. With dedication and skill, they navigate the intricate landscape of dentistry, providing compassionate treatment and contributing to the flourishing dental ecosystem in India
Prof. Dr. Sudeep C B, Head of Department, Public Health & Preventive Dentistry, Sree Anjaneya Institute of Dental Sciences, Calicut

Scope of dentistry:

After completing BDS, a decent salary package is offered to the students. The average salary for dental graduates in India is 3.05 LPA.

The scope of practice for associate dentists varies depending on several factors such as specific training, their level of experience, and the jurisdiction regulations in which they practice.

Forceps and elevators used for performing extraction (Dr Anjali KV)
Forceps and elevators used for performing extraction (Dr Anjali KV)

Carrier growth for associate dentists:

Many associate dentists become partners in their current practice or establish their dental clinic.

  • Some associate dentists pursue further education to become specialists in areas such as Orthodontics, Endodontics, Oral maxillofacial surgery, etc.

  • Some are drawn into careers in academics.

  • Some associate dentists benefit from ongoing continuing education and skill development.

  • Associate dentists can use their expertise and experience in various healthcare organizations.

  • They can get involved in volunteer work, public health programs, or professional organizations to promote oral health education and policy changes that benefit patients.


The career path for associate dentists is diverse and offers growth opportunities. They can fulfill careers that align with their interests by continually expanding their skills, knowledge, and professional network. They can utilize their clinical experience and leadership skills to take responsibility in healthcare organizations or professional communities. They can contribute significantly to the dental profession, improve oral health outcomes, and make a positive impact on the lives of their patients.


1. Teoh, Leanne; Park, Joon Soo; Moses, Geraldine; McCullough, Michael; Page, Amy (2023-10-01). "To prescribe or not to prescribe? A review of the Prescribing Competencies Framework for dentistry". Journal of Dentistry. 137: 104654. doi:10.1016/j.jdent.2023.104654. ISSN 0300-5712. PMID 37574106.

2. "Careers in Dentistry - Australian Dental Association". Australian Dental Association. Retrieved 2018-05-16.

3. "Infection Control and Sterilization".


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