Dentist Salary

What is a Dentist

Dentist (also known as Family Dentist and Dental Surgeon) is a health care professional who provides diagnosis, treatment and preventative care for a patient’s teeth and mouth. Dentists can also refer patients to other dentists, such as orthodontists, for more specialized dental procedures. For more on job description, please visit our dentist job description page.

Work Environment

Majority of dentists work in dental offices or clinics, either at their own businesses, partnered with other dentists, or they may work under more established dentists. You may find a small percentage of dentists working in research laboratories, large corporations, government services, and the military. Wherever they work, dentist are expected to wear masks, gloves and other protective equipment to ensure the safety of their patients and themselves from the transmission of infectious diseases.

Work Schedule Dentist Salary

Dentists usually work full time during regular weekday hours, but it often depends largely on the clinics’ hours of operation. Weekday evenings is not uncommon especially if there is only one dentist working in the clinic. However, some offices may choose to open on weekends too, but those offices tend to have more than one dentist working at a time. Due to increase level of competition in large cities, dental clinics in these areas have to open for longer hours and almost always open on weekends as well. While in smaller towns, dentists have more of a say in determining their own work schedule as the demand for their profession clearly exceeds the supply.

How Much Does a Dentist Make

In the United States, the average annual dentist salary is $163,240. This total is easily computed by adding the salaries of all of the dentists and then dividing by the number of dentists employed. There is a large gap between the highest earning dental professionals and those with the lowest mean annual wages. Those in the bottom 10% can expect to earn less than $74,130 each year whereas dentists in the top 10% have salaries that begin at $187,199 and escalate from there.

Dentist Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$163,240 per year
$78.48 per hour
Top 10% SalaryMore than $187,199 per year
More than $90.00 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$74,130 per year
$35.64 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201293,580

Dentist Job Outlook and Prospects

Although job growth for dentists between 2012 and 2022 is low compared to some other healthcare professions, the projected 16% increase in positions is still faster than average. This can result in almost 20,600 new positions created by 2022. Additionally, the mean annual wage for dentists has increased by almost $20,000 in the past two years alone, holding great promise for the future.

The slower growth rate is likely due to the educational requirements for the profession, especially due to economic considerations that are becoming increasingly influential in terms of the attainability higher education. This is extremely relevant for dental students because they must first earn a bachelor’s degree in order to be admitted into dental school where they will spend an additional 4 years training.

What Affects the Dentist Salary

Dentists specialize in diagnosing and treating various health issues related to the teeth, gums, and other structures of the mouth. Dentists can work in a variety of settings that can drastically affect their salaries. Just some of these influential factors include experience, industry, and location.

Economy

Historically, there is a correlation between fluctuations of economic conditons and a dentist’s income. Since the economic downturn in 2009, average dentist salary have been declining due to a decrease number of visits to dental offices. Reasons for this maybe contributed from a decrease in number of people covered by private insurance and financial hardship affecting a vast number of Americans. Over 90% of American dental expenditures comes out of an individual’s own pockets or through private insurance. Hence if people have less money in their bank or get cut from their dental insurance, spending their savings on dental care isn’t at the top of the list.

Experience and Education

Experience is one of the leading factors that can influence a dentist’s salary, especially because most experienced dentists tend to own their own practices. This means that while individuals just entering the field may earn less and be employed under other individuals, those with more experience can open their own offices and make significantly more money. A figure of $200,000 annually is not uncommon among dentists who are self employed.

All dentists are registered and licensed before their enter practice. However, some dentists may pursue further education such as orthodontics and oral surgery. These specialized dentists are often rewarded with a substantial increase in salary.

Industry

Unlike virtually all other professions, the most concentrated industry for dentists is also the top paying industry. Working in a dental office results in a mean annual wage of $166,280 or more. This is because most dentists in an office either own the practice or are working as associates within the practice. The ability to do this comes with experience; however, dentists can also work under other physicians and in the offices of other health practitioners and still make a significant amount of money in comparison to other industries.

Location

States with the lowest concentration of dentists are those that pay the most, including New Hampshire, Vermont, and Delaware. All of these states employ 400 or less dentists, meaning that these individuals are in significantly higher demand, which also results in higher pay.

Relatedly, metropolitan areas that employ the lowest number of dentists are also those that pay the most. This same trend holds true for nonmetropolitan areas as well, as almost all of those that pay the highest annual wages are the states that employ 100 dentists or less, all of whom earn at least $228,000 each year.

Dentist Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas
Top Paying States
Top Paying Industries
States with Highest Employment Level
Spokane, WA: $248,410New Hampshire: $234,010Offices of Dentists: $166,280California: (11,260 jobs) $140,620
Burlington, NC: $242,410Vermont: $216,160Offices of Other Health Practitioners: $154,840New York: (7,150 jobs) $156,480
Jacksonville, NC: $241,640Delaware: $214,840Employment Services: $149,560Texas: (5,950 jobs) $192,800
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC: $240,060Washington: $203,480State Government: $146,810Florida: (5,240 jobs) $149,950
Norwich-New London, CT-RI: $239,750North Dakota: $200,510Offices of Physicians: $142,710Illinois: (4,200 jobs) $128,240
dentist salary state by state
About Tanja Z

Tanja Z is a publisher and editor for several medical education websites. She is a part time pharmacist with over 6 years of experience. Outside of work, Tanja enjoy going to the movies, reading books, and traveling across the world. Google+ Visit her here.

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