How much do dentists make?

For aspiring dentists and those already in the profession, understanding the intricacies of dentist salaries is an essential step toward building a successful and financially rewarding career path.

Dentists, as we know are oral healthcare professionals, who specialize in diagnosing and treating various dental conditions, offering preventive care, restorative treatments, and cosmetic procedures.

And given the extensive education they need to acquire, these professionals earn a decent living.

In 2021, the average dentist salary stood at $160,370, with the top 25% earning an impressive $208,000, while the lowest 25% earned $101,570 during the same period.

However, various factors impact dentist salaries, such as geographic location, years of experience, and specialized training.

In this guide, we will break down the factors that influence dentist salaries, ranging from experience levels to geographic locations and specialized training.

Dentist vs Orthodontist Salary: What’s the Difference?

Dentists and orthodontists are both dental professionals, but they have distinct roles within the field of dentistry, and as a result, their salaries can vary.

Given below are some of the differences in their job responsibilities and how they impact their respective salaries:

  • Job Responsibilities: General dentists diagnose and treat various dental issues, perform routine dental procedures such as cleanings, fillings, and extractions, and address oral health concerns. Meanwhile, orthodontists are specialists who focus on correcting misaligned teeth and jaws.

  • Specialization: Dentists typically have a broad range of dental knowledge and provide comprehensive oral care for patients of all ages, while orthodontists have advanced training and specialization in orthodontics, which involves in-depth knowledge of tooth movement and jaw alignment.

Therefore, due to their specialized skills and additional years of training, orthodontists generally command higher salaries than general dentists.

For instance, the median salary for orthodontists is $208,000 while the average salary of a dentist in the US is $160,370.

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Factors Influencing Dentist Salary

Several factors can influence a dentist's salary, determining the range of earnings they can expect in their profession.

Understanding these factors can provide valuable insights into how dentists can maximize their income and make informed career decisions.

Some of the key factors influencing dentist salaries include:

Experience and Seniority

Dentists' salaries often increase with years of experience as they gain expertise and build a reputation in their field.

Established dentists with a track record of successful patient outcomes and a loyal patient base are likely to command higher salaries.

For instance, new dentists make an average annual salary of $133,482 while seasoned dentists can command a hefty salary of $367,214 per annum.

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Geographic Location

Dentists' salaries can vary significantly based on the region or city they practice.

Urban areas with a higher cost of living and increased demand for dental services tend to offer higher salaries to attract and retain dental professionals.

Given below are some of the best-paying cities for dentists in the US:

Dallas, TX $258,776
Las Vegas, NV $256,860
Coral Springs, FL $250,890
Philadelphia, PA $242,512
Columbus, OH $239,861
Chicago, IL $211,088
Salem, OR $199,553
Indianapolis, IN $198,356
San Diego, CA $173,183

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Practice Setting

Dentists working in different practice settings may have varying earning potential.

For example, dentists in private practices or group practices, especially those with a substantial patient base and a focus on specialized services, generally have higher earning potential compared to those in public health clinics or government-funded facilities.

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Dentists who pursue advanced training and specialize in specific fields of dentistry, such as orthodontics, oral surgery, periodontics, or prosthodontics, often earn higher salaries due to their expertise in complex dental procedures and specialized services.

Given below is an overview of the average salaries of dentists who specialize in various procedures:

Dental Surgeon $298,650
Chief Dental Officer $164,248
Periodontist $194,282
Dental Specialist $60,456

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Patient Base and Case Complexity

The size and complexity of a dentist's patient base can also influence their earnings.

Dentists who attract a steady stream of high-paying patients or handle complex cases that require specialized treatments may earn more.

Continuing Education and Certifications

Dentists who invest in continuous learning, attend dental conferences, and acquire additional certifications in specialized areas can enhance their skills and expertise, making them more valuable to patients and potentially commanding higher salaries.

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Economic Factors

The overall economic conditions of a country or region can influence dental spending and, consequently, dentist salaries.

In times of economic growth, people may be more willing to invest in dental services, positively affecting dentists' earning potential.

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Dentist Salary, Perks, and Benefits

Beyond their salary, dentists often enjoy a range of perks and benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and opportunities for continuing education to enhance their skills and expertise.

Given below is a breakdown of additional perks and benefits enjoyed by dentists beyond their pay:

Dental Practice Ownership and Income Potential

Dental practice ownership offers dentists unique financial advantages beyond their regular salary.

Owning a dental practice allows dentists to have control over their business and patient care, potentially leading to higher income as the practice grows. They can benefit from the profits generated by the practice, making it a lucrative venture over time.

Moreover, they can create a positive work environment, implement their treatment philosophies, and invest in advanced dental technologies, all of which contribute to increased patient satisfaction and loyalty.

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Incentives, Bonuses, and Profit-Sharing

In addition to base salaries, many dental practices offer incentives, bonuses, and profit-sharing schemes to motivate and reward their dentists.

Performance-based bonuses can be tied to meeting productivity targets, patient satisfaction scores, or practice revenue goals.

Profit-sharing arrangements allow dentists to share in the financial success of the practice, promoting a sense of ownership and commitment to its success.

Such incentives not only boost dentists' earnings but also foster a collaborative and supportive work environment, encouraging dentists to strive for excellence and contribute to the practice's growth.

Ultimately, considering both the salary and the various benefits and perks ensures dentists find a rewarding and fulfilling work environment that aligns with their personal and professional goals.

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FAQs on Dentist Salary

What is the highest-paid dentist?

The highest-paid dentists are typically oral and maxillofacial surgeons, as their specialized surgical skills and expertise in treating complex dental and facial conditions command higher salaries.

Is dentistry a good career for money?

Dentistry can be a financially rewarding career with the potential for high earning potential, especially for those who specialize, own their practices, or gain experience in the field.

How much does a general dentist make in Houston?

Dentists in Houston earn an average annual salary of $241,956.

What is a pediatric dentist's salary?

The median annual salary for a pediatric dentist in the United States is $256,389.

How much does a dentist make an hour?

The average hourly wage for dentists in the United States is $91, with typical rates ranging between $82 and $103.

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