Unit Group 3113

Skill Type: Health Occupations

Type of work

Dentists diagnose, treat, prevent and control disorders of the teeth and mouth.

For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.

Examples of Occupational Titles

  • dentist
  • oral surgeon


  • oral and maxillofacial surgeon
  • public health dentist
  • orthodontist
  • periodontist
  • prosthodontist
  • endodontist
  • specialist in pediatric dentistry
  • specialist in oral pathology


Job prospects in this occupation are good.

(Update: April 2014)

Over the past few years, the number of dentists has increased significantly, mainly as a result of a rise in the demand for services offered by dentists, as well as labour pool growth. Even though the demand for services offered by dentists should increase slightly less rapidly than in the past, the number of new entrants in this occupation will continue to exceed by far the number of retirements and deaths. Consequently, the number of dentists is expected to continue to increase significantly over the coming years.

Sources of employment

Job openings will primarily arise from employment increase and from positions being vacated by dentists who are retiring. There is very little turnover in this occupation. Some dentists are turning to university teaching positions (see 4121). In general, university graduates usually find work soon after completing their studies and remain employed throughout their career.

Labour pool

Jobs will be available primarily for doctor of dentistry or a doctor of dental surgery graduates, and then, to a lesser extent, for immigrants who meet the requirements of theOrdre des dentistes du Québec. While there is twice as high a proportion of immigrants in this occupation as in the average of all occupations (25% versus 12%, according to data from the 2006 Census), only 9% of dentists graduated abroad.

Since there is practically no unemployment in this field, almost all vacant positions will be filled by these graduates and immigrants. The occupation attracts many candidates, but only a small minority can enter this profession because of the quotas set for dentistry programs. In addition, many dentistry graduates decide to practice in other provinces or abroad. In fact, these graduates often come from other provinces to Quebec to study, and the French-language universities reserve a certain number of spots for French-speakers from outside Quebec. In this context, the placement rate for dentists and oral surgeons is excellent and their unemployment rate is very low, according to the Quebec Department of Education, Recreation and Sport's Relance survey data.


This occupation includes dentists (or oral surgeons) and specialists. The specialists comprise about 11% of the members of theOrdre des dentistes du Québec. The Ordre recognizes eight specialties, in order of importance in March 2012: orthodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, periodontics, prosthodontics, pediatric dentistry, endodontics, oral medecine, public health dentistry, oral and maxillofacial pathology, and oral and maxillofacial radiology.


According to census data, in 2006 approximately 98% of dentists worked in private practices. Some also worked in hospitals (2%).


Employment trends in this occupation depend on the demand for services offered by dentists and the rate of growth of the labour pool.

Demand for services offered by dentists

In the '80s and the '90s, a number of factors have combined to cause demand to increase. The availability of dental health programs, preventive and dental hygiene promotion efforts in day-care centres and schools and the public's increased awareness of the problems associated with oral health have led to more visits to the dentist. Dentists have focussed more on repairs, oral health screening, disease screening, maintenance and hygiene than on extraction. Consequently, there were fewer people without teeth, who consult dentists much less, and an increase in practices that require multiple, regular interventions. During this period, dentists have promoted alternative solutions to removable dental prostheses (dentures, partials, etc.) such as implants, a costly option that is gaining in popularity. Another benefit for dentists is the ever-increasing amount of work in cosmetic dentistry. These trends have led to a significant increase in the number of dentists, reduced the population/dentist ratio by more than 25% between 1981 and 1999 and helped Quebec close the historical gap in this ratio compared with the rest of Canada.

The public's increased awareness of oral health has led to more visits to the dentist and considerably reduced the number of cavities and thus the number of dental repairs. On the other hand, diversification of dentists' practices, especially when it comes to implants, orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry and geriatric dentistry, has more than made up for this decline. This goes a long way toward explaining why the population/dentist ratio decreased less quickly between 1999 and 2013. It should be noted that this ratio varies greatly by region, from single to double and even triple in some regions.

Over the next few years, dentists' practices will become increasingly diversified in the aforementioned fields, especially in geriatric dentistry because of the greying of the population. The population/dentist ratio can thus be expected to continue to decline somewhat.

Rate of labour pool growth

Although the demand for services provided by dentists has increased, the number of students and graduates in dentistry has remained fairly stable. These numbers allow for a higher increase in the number of dentists than in the population, which explains the decline in the population/dentist ratio. However, this growth remains below that of the demand for the services provided by dentists. The census data show us that dentists' average annual employment income increased far more quickly than that of the average in all occupations between 2001 and 2006 (increase of more than 40%, versus about 15%), whereas it had increased a little more quickly between 1991 and 2001.

Considering all these factors, the number of dentists is expected to increase significantly over the coming years.

Employment characteristics

More and more women are entering this occupation. According to census data, the proportion of women went from 19% to 39% between 1991 and 2006. This phenomenon can also be seen at the same level in data from theOrdre des dentistes du Québec. In March 2013, women comprised 43% of members, while they represented only 16% in 1988. This proportion should continue to increase rapidly over the next few years. According to data from the Quebec Department of Education, Recreation and Sport, between 50% and 65% of new dentistry graduates are women. Since women who work as professionals in the health sector usually work fewer hours than men, the increase in the proportion of women in this occupation could result in some employment growth.

The annual employment income ($136,968) shown in the "Characteristics" section of the "Statistics" applies only to the 40% of people in this occupation who worked full time and full-year in 2005. The average employment income for those who did not work full time and full-year was nevertheless $120,934. Evening and weekend work is quite common.

Education and Training

Membership in theOrdre des dentistes du Québec is mandatory for this occupation. Ordre admission requirements are described on its website:

Useful References

Important Considerations

Since it is expected that the number of new entrants will be markedly higher than that of retirements and deaths, the number of dentists is expected to increase significantly over the coming years.

This profession attracts many candidates, but only a small minority can enter this occupation because of the quotas set for dentistry programs.

The proportion of women in this occupation is rising rapidly.

Statistics 3113 - Dentists

Main Labour Market Indicators

In the following table, indicators such as the growth rate, yearly variation in employment, yearly attrition and total annual requirements are forecasts generated by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source for employment is Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The volumes of unemployment insurance beneficiaries come from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s administrative data. All of the data are rounded.

  Unit Group 3113 All occupations
Employment, average 2010-2012 5,050 3,951,050
Employment Insurance claimants in 2012 0 87,600
Average Annual Growth Rate 2013-2017 1.3% 0.8%
Annual Employment Variation 2013-2017 70 33,400
Annual Attrition 2013-2017 60 73,500
Total Annual Needs 2013-2017 130 106,900

Employment Distribution

The data from the following employment distribution tables come from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

  Unit Group 3113 All occupations
Employment by Gender
Males 58.3% 51.9%
Females 41.7% 48.1%
Employment by Age
15 - 24 years 1.2% 13.3%
25 - 44 years 47.2% 42.7%
45 - 64 years 45.7% 41.1%
65 years and over 5.9% 2.8%
Employment by Status
Full-time 86.7% 81.2%
Part-time 13.3% 18.8%
Employment by Annual Income
Full-time, full-year 32.5% 54.8%
Annual Average Income $138,900 $50,300
$0 - $19,999 1.3% 13.3%
$20,000 - $49,999 10.9% 48.0%
$50,000 and over 87.8% 38.8%
Employment by Highest Level of Schooling
Less than high-school 0.0% 12.1%
High-school 0.0% 20.3%
Post-secondary 0.6% 44.2%
Bachelors 99.4% 23.4%
Others Employment Distribution
Self-employment 72.3% 10.7%
Immigration 21.8% 13.7%
Employment by Region
RegionUnit Group 3113 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 1.1% 1.8%
Bas-Saint-Laurent 1.7% 2.3%
Capitale-Nationale 10.8% 9.4%
Centre-du-Québec 2.7% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 4.1% 5.5%
Côte-Nord / Nord-du-Québec 1.0% 1.6%
Estrie 2.0% 3.8%
Gaspésie-îles-de-la-Madeleine 0.5% 0.9%
Lanaudière 2.6% 6.1%
Laurentides 5.5% 7.3%
Laval 5.0% 5.2%
Mauricie 2.7% 3.0%
Montérégie 16.5% 19.2%
Montréal 38.2% 22.9%
Outaouais 2.9% 4.9%
Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean 2.7% 3.3%

Main Sectors of Employment

The data of the following table were prepared by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source is Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

SectorUnit Group 3113
Health Care and Social assistance 98.6%
- Ambulatory Health Care Services (Offices of Dentists included) 96.0%