Dentists are considerably more likely than doctors to work in private practices. Their median income of around $160,000 is far below that of doctors, but they work fewer hours and enjoy considerably more autonomy. Similar to doctors, many have increased their incomes and autonomy by offering cosmetic procedures, which are neither covered nor regulated by insurance companies. In addition, they have protected their income by lobbying hard against any proposals to allow dental hygienists and dental therapists to expand their roles; in other nations, such practitioners are allowed to clean teeth, apply sealants to protect against tooth decay, and even to drill cavities and extract teeth at much lower prices than dentists charge. These conditions make dentistry an appealing occupation, and the number of dental schools has increased over the years.
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