A person who wants to become a dentist would have to study for eight years: four years for a bachelor’s degree and another four years to earn a DMD or DDS in dental school. It goes without saying that the road to being a dentist doesn’t come cheap.
However, a career in dentistry is a smart choice. Among all career options, it occupies the 9th spot in the “100 Best Jobs” by the 2021 U.S. News & World report.1 Three dental specialties (orthodontist, prosthodontist, and oral and maxillofacial surgeon) ranked in the top 35.1
In 2020, dentists made a median salary of $158,940. The highest-paid 10% earned at least $208,000 in the same year, while the lowest-paid 10% earned $79,060.3
Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 3% employment growth for dentists.2 Within this 10-year period, it is projected that approximately 4,000 jobs for dentists will open up.2
The American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes several dental specialties within the dental profession.4 Dental professionals have the option to specialize in these different areas, providing treatment and management for different oral health problems.
These dental specialties require different amounts of training and education, which can lead to differences in salaries.
Here are some of the dental specialties recognized by the ADA and their respective average annual salaries:4,5,6,7,8,9,10
|Dental Specialty||Average Annual Salary|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology||$171,040|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology||$194,930|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery||$234,990|
|Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics||$237,990|
|Public Health Dentistry||$194,930|
There are several positions to pursue in the dental industry. While some jobs require years of extensive education and training, others do not.
Several dental careers offer fulfilling opportunities to provide care for patients’ oral health without having the patients open their mouths.
Dental front office managers and receptionists all work to keep the dental office running efficiently.
Dental sales representatives provide tools, equipment, and supplies needed by the dentist so they can do their work.
Dental laboratory technicians work with the dentist to plan, design, and make dental prostheses for the patient.
Here are some dental-related jobs and their respective average annual salaries:11,12,13,14
|Job||Average Annual Salary|
|Dental Front Office Manager||$50,339|
|Dental Laboratory Technician||$45,230|
|Dental Sales Rep||$40,695|
Several factors affect dentist salary. Experience, industry, specialization, education, and employer are huge factors that determine how much a dentist makes.
Additionally, location is very important. Depending on the city or state, dentist salaries differ.
Here are the top 10 best-paying cities for dentists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:10
|City||Average Annual Dentist Salary|
|Olympia-Tumwater, Washington||> $208,000|
|Warner Robins, Georgia||> $208,000|
|Dover-Durham, New Hampshire||$286,540|
|North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida||$278,790|
|Portland-South Portland, Maine||$278,390|
|Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont||$266,760|
|Rapid City, South Dakota||$262,070|
|New Haven, Connecticut||$250,430|
Below is a table with the average annual dentist salary in every state:10
|State||Average Annual Dentist Salary|
How much a dentist earns partly depends on the employer. While all employers are required by law to follow federal, state, and local wage rates, some employers pay higher than others.
The following are popular dentist employers with the average annual salary they pay their employees:15
|Employer||Average Annual Dentist Salary|
|Dental Group Ltd||$135,000|
|Indian Health Services||$135,000|
|Methodist Healthcare Ministries||$159,119|
|Morris Health Center||$123,158|
|The Veterans Administration (US)||$174,807|
Self-Employed dentists have an average annual salary of $239,447, which is noticeably higher compared to dentists working with an exclusive employer.15
“100 Best Jobs.” U.S. News, 2021.
“How much does a dentist make?” U.S. News, 2021.
"Dentists." Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Specialty Definitions." National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards.
“Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 29-1211 Anesthesiologists.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 29-1023 Orthodontists.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 29-1024 Prosthodontists.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 29-1022 Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 29-1029 Dentists, All Other Specialists.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 29-1021 Dentists, General." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 29-1292 Dental Hygienists." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 51-9081 Dental Laboratory Technicians." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 31-9091 Dental Assistants." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 43-4171 Receptionists and Information Clerks." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Average Dental Salary at Aspen.” PayScale.