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How much does a dentist make?

how much does a dentist make

Dentistry is one of the higher paying professions out there. So, you may be asking yourself, how much do dentists make? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average dentist makes $164,010 per year, as of 2021. Obviously some dentists make more and some make less. Regardless, that is a pretty good yearly salary.

Additionally, because this is a highly skilled profession, dentists have some flexibility that many other professions do not. For instance, it is very common for dentists to work 3-5 days a week. A Monday through Thursday schedule is not uncommon.

However, there are several prices to be paid for these luxuries. They include:

  • Lots of school. As many as eight years of schooling after high school is required to become a dentist. You have to do well in school as well.
  • Expensive. It is very difficult for a dentist to afford his school costs upfront. Therefore, many dental school students take on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Many are paying off loans for decades after school. Some even join the armed forces in order to get their schooling paid for.
  • Little business training. Dentists often own their own dental practices. That can be good in some ways because you can make your own schedule and be your own boss. It can be difficult learning to manage a business and all of the details that go along with that.
  • Liability. There’s always the chance you can cause a problem for a patient or even get a patient with a problem who is irrational and unhappy with the results. Liability insurance is important for this, but it doesn’t mean it won’t cause you stress anyway.

Variables that will change the amount a dentist can make

There are many variables that will influence the amount of money a dentist can make. So, take some of these other factors into consideration when thinking about how much a dentist can make.

Which city or state you live in

For instance, the location where you work makes a big difference. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a dentist in Wyoming makes $133,750/year. In comparison, a dentist in Rhode Island makes $258,920. That’s a pretty big difference in pay. Generally, metropolitan areas pay better than rural areas.

Practice owner vs employee

Another factor that can influence your pay is if you own your own practice or not. A private practice owner can take home more money than an employee in most instances. They able to take all of the profits from the practice after the work they do. Additionally, they can also employ other dentists and dental hygienists and make a profit from their work as well.


Dentists can continue on in schooling after dental school to attain more specialized skills. There are all kinds of different dental specialties. More specialized skills almost always means you can charge more for your services. For example, oral surgeons make an average of $234,990/year.

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