Interesting Facts About Dentists
Dentists are the diligent and patient professionals behind most healthy smiles. These doctors provide a range of corrective and preventative services, such as straightening, repairing and removing decay from teeth, in addition to providing instruction regarding diet, flossing and other keys to good oral health. And while they quietly work behind the scenes and behind the mask, dentistry is not a mundane profession. Indeed, several interesting facts about dentists can be found, some of which may come as a revelation.
Responsible for the Electric Chair
A dentist originated the electric chair — which may not be a surprise to the many people who have a seemingly irrational fear of sitting in a dentist’s chair. According to the National Institutes of Health, in 1881, prominent dentist Alfred P. Southwick happened to observe an intoxicated man who mistakenly touched a live generator terminal and subsequently died. This incident led Southwick to conclude that electrocution was a more humane form of legal punishment than other methods, such as being beheaded by the guillotine, hanging or suffocation. Over the next decade, Southwick worked tirelessly to promote the passage of laws mandating electrical execution, and the first electrical execution law went into effect on January 1, 1889, when a man was electrocuted after he was convicted of killing his mistress.
Earn the Highest Median Salary
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons rank first on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics list of highest-paying occupations. According to the BLS, these dental surgeons earn a median annual salary that is greater than $166,400. Orthodontists are third on the list, also earning more than $166,400. General dentists and other specialty dentists occupy the fifth and sixth slots, and prosthodontists are in ninth place. In other words, dentists comprise half of the top 10 highest-paying occupations in America.
On the Endangered Species List
Currently, there are 155,700 dentists, according to the BLS. Through 2020, the demand for dentists will increase by 21 percent, adding 32,200 new jobs to the economy. However, the BLS projects that there will not be enough dentists to meet the increased demand for dental services. Several negative lifestyle factors contribute to the rising need for dentists. For example, according to Dental Health Magazine, 80 percent of Americans over the age of 35 have gum disease, and 25 percent of adults over the age of 60 have lost all of their teeth. In addition, swimming in overly-chlorinated swimming pools, and drinking soda and citrus drinks can damage the tooth enamel, as can certain antibiotics, trauma and high fever.
In a 2012 Gallup poll in which the public was asked to rank professionals based on their ethics and honesty, dentists ranked very high. The poll, which consisted of telephone interviews with over 1,000 participants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, asked respondents to rate professionals from very high to very low on a 5-point scale. Dentists ranked fifth out of the 22 professions with a 62 percent honesty rating.