How Much Do Dentists Make?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

If you are interested in careers in the medical field, you might want to learn more about dentistry. Helping people take care of their teeth can be a rewarding career as well as a lucrative one. Becoming a dentist requires significant education and dedication, but the earning potential can be substantial. In this article, we list the average salaries of dentists by state, answer common questions about dentist salaries and list jobs related to dentistry.

How much do dentists make?

The average salary for a dentist in the United States is $199,363 per year. Dentistry is one of the highest paying medical professions. Dental specialists and those who own their practice can make significantly more money than the average. Oral surgeons and endodontists earn the highest salaries in the field of dentistry.

The salary that a dentist earns is influenced by geographic location and type of practice. Those who provide services to a densely populated area or an affluent area have higher earning potential. The number of dentists in the region affects salaries as well; the fewer the dentists, the higher the earning potential. Opening your own practice gives you greater control of your income once you build your base of patients and hire other dentists to work for you.

Related: Learn About Being a Dentist

What is the job outlook for dentists?

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 Occupational Outlook Handbook projects that the number of jobs for dentists is expected to grow by 7% between 2018 and 2028, a rate faster than the average growth rate for all positions. This data indicates that dentists will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. Even when compared to other healthcare careers, the need for dentists is growing fast, especially in states with an aging population. As medical research continues to connect oral health to overall wellness, new opportunities will evolve for dentists, increasing the demand for trained professionals.

Dentist salaries by state

The five highest-paying states for dentists are South Dakota, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Iowa. According to Indeed Salaries, here are the average salaries for each state in the United States:

  • Alabama: $175,304 per year

  • Alaska: $176,365 per year

  • Arizona: $210,700 per year

  • Arkansas: $167,593 per year

  • California: $222,896 per year

  • Colorado: $219,246 per year

  • Connecticut: $156,111 per year

  • Delaware: $187,526 per year

  • Florida: $209,024 per year

  • Georgia: $214,707 per year

  • Hawaii: $211,439 per year

  • Idaho: $212,117 per year

  • Illinois: $181,279 per year

  • Indiana: $154,012 per year

  • Iowa: $222,920 per year

  • Kansas: $206,409 per year

  • Kentucky: $201,823 per year

  • Louisiana: $212,300 per year

  • Maine: $194,711 per year

  • Maryland: $190,398 per year

  • Massachusetts: $206,392 per year

  • Michigan: $204,463 per year

  • Minnesota: $178,520 per year

  • Mississippi: $182,965 per year

  • Missouri: $202,329 per year

  • Montana: $131,237 per year

  • Nebraska: $162,836 per year

  • Nevada: $228,103 per year

  • New Hampshire: $182,035 per year

  • New Jersey: $161,351 per year

  • New Mexico: $196,775 per year

  • New York: $166,084 per year

  • North Carolina: $172,113 per year

  • North Dakota: $148,717 per year

  • Ohio: $209,711 per year

  • Oklahoma: $197,246 per year

  • Oregon: $205,308 per year

  • Pennsylvania: $189,493 per year

  • Rhode Island: $110,037 per year

  • South Carolina: $225,184 per year

  • South Dakota: $265,802 per year

  • Tennessee: $186,194 per year

  • Texas: $204,124 per year

  • Utah: $223,223 per year

  • Vermont: $174,316 per year

  • Virginia: $173,151 per year

  • Washington: $201,008 per year

  • West Virginia: $164,833 per year

  • Wisconsin: $185,815 per year

  • Wyoming: $146,744 per year

Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some of the most common queries about dentist salaries:

  • What are some high-paying fields for dentists other than private practice?

  • How does a dentist's salary compare to that of other medical professionals?

  • What is the highest-paid dental specialty?

  • How can you increase a dentist's salary?

What are some high-paying fields for dentists other than private practice?

Dentists often work in residential facilities for those with disabilities, in state government facilities and hospitals and the practices of other medical professionals. These positions usually pay less than private practice, but they don't involve running a business along with taking care of patients, which may be appealing to some dentists.

How does a dentist's salary compare to that of other medical professionals?

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for dentists in the United States is $199,363 per year. By comparison, physicians earn an average of $202,529 per year, and physician assistants average $104,953 per year.

Related: Learn About Being a Physician Assistant

What is the highest-paid dental specialty?

Oral surgeons are generally the most highly compensated dental professionals. Salaries for these professionals normally exceed $200,000. Average wages for this specific discipline are not available in the Indeed Salaries database.

How can you increase a dentist's salary?

Expanding the scope of practice is one way for a dentist to earn more money. For example, if you offer cosmetic dentistry services and surgeries in addition to routine care, you can make a higher salary. Specialization is another avenue to increase income. For example, an orthodontist is a type of dentist who specializes in the positioning of jaws and teeth. The average salary for orthodontists in the United States is $256,491 per year, significantly higher than that of a general dentist.

Related jobs

Here are three careers to consider if you'd like to work in dentistry but not necessarily as a dentist. These jobs do not require as many years of formal education as dentists must complete:

1. Dental technician

National average salary: $15.32 per hour

Primary duties: Dental technicians work in a laboratory setting, making dental prosthetics according to specifications of dentists. These professionals usually have no direct contact with patients. This position may also be called a dental laboratory professional.

2. Dental assistant

National average salary: $17.69 per hour

Primary duties: Dental assistants help a dentist at the patient's side but cannot independently do procedures. Some of the tasks that a dental assistant may perform include setting out the instruments the dentist will need, helping with scheduling appointments and patient communication and taking X-rays.

Related: Learn About Being a Dental Assistant

3. Dental hygienist

National average salary: $38.40 per hour

Primary duties: Dental hygienists provide basic care under the supervision of a dentist. This position requires more education than an assistant, so the average salary is significantly higher. Hygienists clean patients' teeth, instruct patients on how to properly care for their teeth and look for signs of disease or injury in the teeth and gums. The scope of practice for hygienists varies by state.

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