Average Dentist Salaries: By State, Top Paying Cities, Specialties, and More
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Table of Contents
- Average Salary By State
- Cities With Highest Salaries
- Average Salary by Specialty
- Related Job Salaries
- Job Availability
- Education & Training
- Frequently Asked Questions
The average general dentist in America earns $180,830, with the highest-paid dentists coming rom Rhode Island and the lowest-paid ones living in West Virginia.
Overall, a career as a dentist ranks No. 11 among highest-paying U.S. jobs. Speciality dentists, such as a dental anesthesiologist, earn more than general dentists.
A career in dentistry is rewarding, but it doesn’t come easily. It requires many years of training, and at a considerable cost. That said, a career as a dentist ranks No. 11 among best-paying jobs, and 47th among the 100 jobs.
Reports by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the average wage of a general dentist in 2020 was $180,830. In the same year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the average salary from all occupations to be $56,310. This means that a general dentist in the U.S makes over three times the average wage of a U.S. worker.
Like any career, not all dentists earn the same amount. The top 25 percent dentists earn $208,000, while the lowest 25 percent earn $115,290. The median annual salary of a dentist was $158,940.
The actual amount a dentist makes varies depending on many factors. These factors include the state, city, employer, education, and experience. Below is a detailed report of how dentists earn based on those factors.
Average Dentist Salary by State
Average compensation for dentists varies in the United States from state to state. Region of the country, cost of living and demand for dental services all impact salary levels.
The three states with the highest-paid dentists are Rhode Island ($258,920), Vermont ($254,190) and Alaska ($242,850).
West Virginia is last at $127,950 just ahead of Kentucky ($128,850). The margin between the highest and lowest average salaries is $130,970, a 50.5-percent difference.
|State||Average Annual Salary|
Cities With the Highest-Paid Dentists
With an average salary of $286,540, Dover-Durham, New Hampshire, had the highest-paid dentists in 2020. It was followed by North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, at $278,790. And Portland-South, Maine, was No. 3 at $278,390.
Below are the top 15 cities and metropolitan areas with the highest-paid dentist sorted in descending order.
|City||Average Annual Salary|
|North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL||$278,790|
|Portland-South Portland, ME||$278,390|
|Burlington-South Burlington, VT||$266,760|
|Rapid City, SD||$262,070|
|New Haven, CT||$250,430|
|Lansing-East Lansing, MI||$245,110|
Average Dentist Salary by Specialty
With the proper training and certifications, a dentist can choose to practice in one or more of the 12 approved dental specialties. Depending on the difficulty of each specialization and the duration of studies, salaries will vary.
Dental anesthesiology is the highest-paying specialty, followed orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. Periodontics was the lowest-compensated specialty.
Some of the main specialties and the estimated average annual compensation:
|Dental Specialty||Average Annual Salary|
|Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics||$237,990|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery||$234,990|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology||$194,930|
|Public Health Dentistry||$194,930|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology||$171,040|
Dental Lab Tech
Dental Sales Rep
Dental Front Office Manager
|Job||Average Annual Salary|
|Dental Front Office Manager||$50,339|
|Dental Laboratory technician||$45,230|
|Dental Sales Rep||$40,695|
|Oral and maxillofacial surgeon||$234,990|
In the United States, the demand for dentists is expected to grow by 8 percent from 2020 to 2030. This rate is almost the same as that of all occupations.
During that decade, the projected average number of new openings for dentists is 5,000 per year. Most of these openings will replace those who leave the field because of retirement or a career change.
There is considerable demand for health professionals such as doctors and nurses. People will also need dentists to achieve overall health. A career in dentistry is somewhat viewed as less competitive, considering the high cost of education and the length of training.
According to the ADA, the ratio of dentists to the U.S population is 60 to 100,000. But this ratio is relatively higher in some areas. About 59 million Americans live in areas with a shortage of dentists.
As the average age of the U.S. population continues to increase, labor professionals expect that dentists will have more work in the future. Also, research shows that Americans are taking their oral health more seriously than they used to, and expectations are that more will visit the dentist consistently.
Not surprisingly, they expect the demand for complicated dental work such as reconstruction, bridges, implants and cosmetics to increase over time.
Education and Training Required
Becoming a dentist requires you to study for about eight years. You’ll spend the first four years studying for an undergraduate degree, preferably with a science major. Then, you’ll have to take a Dental Admission Test (DAT) before going to dental school.
If you pass the test, you’ll join a dental school, where you’ll take four more years studying for Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). Then, you’ll be required to take and pass the National Board Dental Examination during your studies. After graduation, you may have to go through a general dentist residency program, depending on your state policies.
This program will help you gain experience and confidence in the field. You’ll be working on patients under the supervision of a licensed dentist. After that, you can apply for your initial general dentist license. To get this license, you’ll have to pass a clinical examination according to your state requirements. Each state has a state board of dentistry that issues licenses to dentists.
After getting your initial license, you can work as a general dentist or specialize in a specific dentistry area. According to the ADA, there are 12 recognized areas of specialization. You can specialize in one or more of these areas through further studies. Then you’ll get an additional license for the completed specialty.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the highest-paid dentist paid?
What is the average salary of a dentist?
Dentist Overview. U.S. News. 2021.
Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Statistics. March 2021.
How Much Does a Dentist Make. U.S. News. 2021.
Specialty Definition. National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards.
Occupational Outlook Handbook. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. September 2021.
How to Become a Dentist? U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. September 2021.
Licensure for Dental Students. American Dental Association.