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Dentist Dress Code - What do dentists wear?

Are you looking into joining the dental profession and wondering what its like in the everyday life of a dentist, especially in their attire? Will it be comfortable or will it be stuffy like a banker in a full suit? Here we will lay out what the dentist dress code will be and their pros and cons.

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Dentists can wear pretty much whatever they want as long as they can keep themselves safe and their patients safe. They have a wide range of acceptable attire that they can wear because there isn't a specific required outfit that they must wear.

The tops and bottoms are up to the dentist's discretion but the bare minimum of what they should wear are goggles, gloves, and masks.

  • The goggles protect the oral healthcare provider from going blind because there are a lot of splashes and splatter that occur on a daily basis. The eye protection will ensure that the practitioner can continue practicing until retirement age.

  • The gloves protect not only the patient but also the dentist. It protects the patients because it ensures that clean gloved fingers enter their oral cavity. The gloved hands will also protect the dentist from skin diseases such as herpetic whitlow, which is a condition that use to be very common when gloves were less common. The condition affects dentist more often than the general population with occurrences at 2.4% vs 1.7%.

  • The mask protects the dentist from inhaling aerosols through their nose and mouth. Some of them even come with additional eye shields.

With the bare minimum covered, we will now describe what the common choices are for the tops and bottoms as well as their pros and cons.


A very popular choice for clinical wear is scrubs due to their durability and low cost. They also come in a wide variety of colors so they can match the theme of the dental practice.


Pros: Low cost and highly durable. We've some sets of scrubs that are more than 10 years old and don't even have a hole in it. They're also extremely comfortable to wear and you can easily change in and out of them in case an accident happens.

Cons: There are some brands that are much more expensive. They are also not quite up to the standard for business wear. After all a dental office is not just a clinic because it is also a business.

White coat

To be able to don a white coat is a privilege every dental student goes through when they get their white coat ceremony. It is also the perfect attire for consultations because simply having it on commands respect.

white coat

Pros: Looks very professional when giving consultations. Commands respect, admiration, and adoration. Everyone wishes they could wear one! They may get that chance on Halloween if they're not a medical professional.

Cons: Costs more than wearing scrubs. The movements may be more restricted than simply having scrubs on because they're not as comfortable. Can get dirty quite easily because white picks up staining very quickly so it requires extra care in cleaning.

Shirt and tie

Private dental practices are more than just a clinic because they are also a business. This makes business casual or business an appropriate attire for dentists. There isn't any specific brand of shirt or ties that are required. The slacks can be up to the clinician's discretion as well. Most often when they choose to wear this, they'll have on dress shoes as well.

shirt and tie

Pros: Looks extremely professional and offers a clean look. You look like you mean business.

Cons: Very restrictive clothing because moving around in a shirt with a tie isn't the easiest. As a dentist, you perform a lot of procedures and not just examinations or consultations. This means that you are constantly moving your body and will find yourself at odd body positions trying to get access into a tiny orifice called the mouth.

  • Dry cleaning is more expensive than regular laundry.

  • If you're wearing an expensive shirt, try not to get saliva or blood on it!

Polo and khakis or chinos

This attire is somewhat more casual than a shirt and tie but more professional than a regular t-shirt. This would be the most casual attire that a dentist would ever wear because no dentist on earth has ever saw patients in a t-shirt and shorts!

polo shirt

Pros: Much more comfortable than a shirt and tie. A lot more variety with fashion choices since polos are manufactured for everyday wear and not just dental offices.

Cons: Not as professional as wearing a white coat or a shirt and tie. Definitely costs more than scrubs especially if you're going for brand name clothing.

Dentist PPE - personal protective equipment

In addition to what dentists wear on a daily basis in the office, they can also wear an additional layer over their attire called PPE (personal protective equipment).

  • Buffon cap. Looks like a hair net that lunch ladies use but it is used to keep your hair out of the patient's face. Dentists with long hair can sometwith cap, gown, and glovesimes have their hair swinging all over the place and picking up dirt and blood. The buffon cap will tie all the hair together and keep it clean.

  • Disposable gown. This gown most often comes in a blue color but can be in various other colors as well such as white and yellow. The purpose of the gown is to protect your clothing underneath from splash and splatter. A lot of dental products have a tendency to splatter such as the polishing paste, which flies everywhere during teeth polishing after a dental cleaning. This is especially important to wear if you have on a shirt and tie because it'll decrease the dry cleaning expenses.

  • Shoe covers. These are worn over your shoes and are more common in hospital settings. Most dental offices do not use them with the exception of surgical heavy practices. The reason is because blood can drop and spill on your shoes so it is good to have an additional layer of protection.

dentist in full PPE

Pros: PPE definitely helps to keep your attire from getting dirty. They are cheap and disposable so you can swap in and out very easily. They provide an additional layer of protection in case something happens!

Cons: It can get very humid and hot underneath this extra layer of personal protective equipment. It is typically not an issue during the winter time but in the summer, it can get very hot.


Dentists have a wide selection of acceptable attire while working in the office so there isn't really anything specific that dentists must wear. It all depends on the individual clinician's preference and choice of attire. The only requirement is simply for them to keep themselves safe and the patients safe. A dead dentist is not very useful to the patients that they serve.

This article was written by Dr David Chen, a general dentist in long island city.



David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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