How Much Does a Dentist Really Make?

how much does a dentist make

Every profession has its top earners and its bottom earners, even the field of dentistry.

Some dentists make millions of dollars, have an office located on Park Avenue in Manhattan, and travel around the world. Meanwhile, there are others who struggle to earn $60,000 per year.

This makes you wonder exactly why there is such a huge discrepancy between two people who are practicing the same profession. While some factors such as geographical location, make a difference, it’s more than that.

In order to solve this puzzle, we did some research. Keep reading to learn the answer to the question: how much does a dentist make?

How Much Does a Dentist Make?

According to US News & World Report, the median dentist salary is $153,900 per year. Meanwhile, the average income for most Americans is around $50,000 per year.

And about a quarter of Americans earn less than $25,000 per year, which means most dentists starting out are earning three times more than what most Americans do. This makes you wonder how it’s even possible for a dentist to earn less than half of what most of their counterparts are earnings.

Let’s take a look at a few factors.

Different Types of Dentistry

There’s not just one type of dentistry available. An orthodontist specializes in helping straighten teeth. An oral surgeon performs more complex dentistry like root canals.

A dentist may choose to work in a hospital ER. Others may prefer to focus on advancing research in dental technology.

Another might feel compelled to travel the world with an international health and relief program.

An oral surgeon salary is different than someone working with an international health and relief program.

But the type of dentistry you choose to practice is only one factor in the various salaries for dentists. Where you practice dentistry also counts.

A city-based dentist will have more potential patients who typically earn higher salaries than a country-based dentist will.

Business Savvy

Not everyone wants to own and operate a business, and not everyone should. It’s incredibly difficult and time-consuming.

And, unfortunately, they don’t teach you how to run a successful business in dental school. Nor does anyone understand the true cost of operating a business until you’re actually in the trenches.

While you might bill out over $600,000, your earnings will still end up around $180,000 after your business expenses have been paid. That’s if there weren’t any unexpected issues like an employee theft to deal with.

Back in the 1960s, a dentist could just move to a community where there were no other dentists and instantly grow a business. There was no need to advertise because often you were the only choice in dental care for miles.

Cut to 2018 and there are far more dentists working in the profession. There’s more competition for patients.

Marketing and Advertising

A dentist who understands marketing and incorporates it into their business strategy will be far more successful than one who ignores marketing opportunities.

That includes marketing online and offline. Those in health professions have to work hard to gain and keep the trust of their patients.

Some dentists have begun partnering with other dentists who all work together in the same place. That affects what the dentist average salary is.

There are also dental chains that are becoming more popular. Some dentists are choosing to work for another dentist rather than being their own boss. Many are now seeing the importance of branding themselves in order to build up credibility in their community.

Salaries for dentists will change depending on how many other people you hire into your business and how much you pay them. It will also change depending on how well you advertise and market your business.

Poor Spending Habits

If you are still wondering how much does a dentist make, it won’t answer the question of how much money they’ll retire with. Not everyone has good spending habits.

Some people forget to pay themselves first. They don’t save for the future, and they don’t have a financial plan.

Instead, they spend money on clothing, trips, homes, and cars. Excessive spending, regardless of your profession, will end up catching up to you.

Whether you’re earning a good salary or not, it’s imperative to learn how to create a working budget for yourself and your family. This ensures that even if something bad happens, you’ll have enough income to take care of everyone.

Hire a good financial planner and an accountant to help you plan for your financial future.

Making Poor Investments

Even though the salaries for dentists are high, that doesn’t translate automatically into knowing how to make wise investments. Sometimes, dentists get bad advice or invest their earnings poorly.

One moment you’re putting $100,000 in a stock you knew couldn’t miss, and the next minute the money is all gone. That’s why it’s smart to get investment advice from professionals.

It’s also important to diversify your investments. Never put all your financial “eggs” into one basket.

That way, should something go wrong, you won’t be financially devastated.

One option is to consider investing in real estate. Click here to learn more about real estate investing.

Student & Business Loans

There was a time when a school teacher could afford to put her spouse through dental school on her salary alone without taking out any additional loans. That’s impossible to achieve today.

Some students today are lucky. One out of five leaves school with no loans whatsoever.

But the average dental student leaves school with $247,227 in student loan debts hanging over their heads at a time when they’re trying to establish their own business. Over 30% report their loans are over $300,000.

It’s hard enough to start your life with a huge debt weighing on your shoulders. But many dentists fresh out of school are looking to start their own practice.

It’s not cheap to buy an already-established dental practice. Especially if it’s a successful one.

And if you’re starting from scratch, that means buying expensive technological equipment, chairs, and renting or buying space. Then there are your employee’s salaries to consider.

This means that while the dentist average salary is high, it’s still going to take some time for you to pay down your loans.

How to Build up Wealth as a Dentist

If you’re looking to earn more than the dentist average salary, you’ll have to do your homework first. There are strategies to help build up your wealth.

Let’s take a look at some of those strategies.

Focus on What’s Important

Remember, you’re not just a dentist. You are also an entrepreneur, which means it’s time to start thinking like one if you truly want to build up wealth for yourself.

Start by focusing on what’s important. Each day, focus on the one thing you can do to generate income. One great suggestion is to focus on keeping the patients you do have happy.

Another is to work on filling up any empty spaces in your appointment calendar. A third is to focus on finding new patients using referrals and marketing as your strategies.

Focusing on what’s important forces you to work smarter, rather than harder. It increases the amount of time you spend on income-generating activities while decreasing time spent on non-income producing activities.

Clear out the Clutter

Clutter is one effective way to never get anything productive done. The salaries for dentists vary depending on how much clutter one dentist lets get in the way of their success versus another who focuses only on building a successful practice.

Start focusing on the positive in your life. Don’t watch the news or read negative news stories.

Be careful about what you surround yourself with. If you have colleagues who are also dentists, only spend time with those who are positive and focused. Those who are angry or discouraging aren’t going to provide you with anything helpful.

Read books and attend seminars on how to improve your business. The more you clear out negative and unproductive clutter from your life and business, the easier it is to spot opportunities and build up a support system.

Hire a Coach or Get a Mentor

No one is ever successful on their own. It’s impossible. That’s because we need the support of others in order to be successful.

If you don’t have patients who love your services, they won’t return. Your patients help you build your business and earn a decent dentist salary.

Having a network of other professionals who can refer business to you is also helpful. But so is hiring a mentor or a coach.

Building a successful practice is hard. Finding someone who can support, guide, and teach you how to do it right the first time makes it that much easier.

Invest in Yourself

Just because you graduated from dental school doesn’t mean that your schooling is over. Invest in yourself by continuing your educational process.

Attend dental seminars. Head to NYC for the dental convention each year.

Form a peer group with other dentists. Take courses online or at a local school on business and marketing.

The more you learn, the more strategies you’ll have to use to build a successful practice.

Visit Our Marketplace

How much does a dentist make? As we’ve learned, there are a lot of factors that help determine that number.

One way to help yourself earn more is by visiting our marketplace. You can search for jobs, sell and buy furniture, and learn about continuing education courses.

If you’re interested in selling any dentist equipment, are looking to market to dentists, or have an office for sale, click here to learn about our advertising opportunities.