Dentists: Salary Overview
Dentists diagnose and treat teeth, gums, and mouth problems.
They may also give advice and instruct their patients on how to take care of their teeth and gums.
Their exact job responsibilities vary depending on the dentist’s specialty.
Orthodontists straighten teeth by using braces and other appliances to apply pressure on the teeth.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform surgeries on the mouth, gum, teeth, neck, and head.
Some of the most common operations they perform include removing impacted teeth and surgically repairing a cleft lip and palate.
Periodontists treat diseases of the gums and bones that support the teeth while endodontists perform root canal therapy and remove nerves from infected teeth.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dentists was $159,200 as of May 2019; this means that half the workers in this occupation earned less than this amount and half earned more.
Salaries vary based on a wide range of factors, including the dentist’s experience, specialty, the region, and the employer.
According to the numbers published by BLS, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $79,670 a year while the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000 a year.
Dentist Salary by Specialty
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dentists held about 155,000 jobs in 2018, most of them (136,900) working as general dentists.
The same report shows that there were 6,500 orthodontists, 5,900 oral and maxillofacial surgeons, 500 prosthodontists, and 5,200 dentists that had a different specialization.
Salaries vary widely depending on the specialization and as an orthodontist, you can expect to earn more than as a general dentist.
According to BLS, the median annual wage for orthodontists, prosthodontists, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons was equal or greater than $208,000.
General dentists earned a median annual wage of $155,600 while dentists who had other specialization earned $147,220.
Salaries also vary depending on the employer, the number of years of practice, and the region of employment.
Dentist Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of dentists (74%) worked in dentists’ offices while 16% of them were self-employed.
Some dentists have their own dental practice while others have partners in their practice and others work as associate dentists for established dental practices.
The government hired about 3% of all dentists while 2% worked in physician’s offices and 2% worked for outpatient care centers.
According to the numbers published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest median salary was earned by dentists who worked for established dental practices.
The median annual wage in this field was $163,470.
Dentists who worked in outpatient care centers earned a median wage of $149,830 a year while those who worked in physicians’ offices earned a median annual salary of $149,310.
The government offered a median annual wage for dentists of $132,320.
Salaries also vary depending on the dentist’s office location, on the number of hours the dentist works, and on their experience.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of dentists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.
Demand for dental services is expected to increase as the population ages but it varies depending on the dentist’s specialty, the region, and a variety of other factors.
For example, the demand for general dentists is projected to grow by 8 percent while the demand for dentists who have a different specialty (other than orthodontists, prosthodontists, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons) is expected to grow 5 percent.
If you want to become a dentist, your job prospects will be good especially if you’re willing to relocate to underserved areas.
Competition in some regions may be strong especially since the number of graduates from dental schools has increased over recent years.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Dentists. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.