How much does a dentist make?

The average (mean) salary for non-specialized dentists is $180,830, which translates to $86.94 per hour.

Dentists who specialize can earn even more. Oral surgeons earn an average of $234,990, orthodontists earn $237,990 and prosthodontists earn $214,870. All other dentist specialties earn a mean annual income of $194,930.

That said, dentist wages range widely based on location and experience.

Among non-specialized dentists, the median income of the top-earning 10% is over $208,000 — more than double the salary of the lowest-earning 10%, who make less than $79,060.

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States where dentists earn the most

Dentists tend to earn more in the northeast corner of the U.S. In Rhode Island, dentists earn 43.2% more than the national average.

The top five earning states are:

  1. Rhode Island: $258,920
  2. Vermont: $254,190
  3. Alaska: $242,850
  4. Maine: $236,060
  5. New Hampshire: $222,430

Metropolitan areas where dentists earn the most

Dentist salaries get even more jaw-dropping when you break data into top-paying metropolitan areas.

Here are the top eight areas for which full data is available:

  1. Dover-Durham, NH-ME: $286,540
  2. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL: $278,790
  3. Portland-South Portland, ME: $278,390
  4. Gainesville, GA: $271,580
  5. Burlington-South Burlington, VT: $266,760
  6. Rapid City, SD: $262,070
  7. Longview, TX: $251,760
  8. New Haven, CT: $250,430

If you weren’t open to relocating, you may want to reconsider. In the Dover-Durham area, dentists earn over $100,000 more than the national average.

Plus, these high-paying dental zones don’t correlate with high cost of living cities like New York, San Francisco and Boston.

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Average dentist salaries by state

Wondering how much dentists earn in your area? Here’s the Bureau of Labor Statistics mean salary data broken down by state:

  • Alabama: $172,050
  • Alaska: $242,850
  • Arizona: $199,660
  • Arkansas: $163,260
  • California: $160,300
  • Colorado: $184,550
  • Connecticut: $221,440
  • Delaware: N/A
  • Florida: $180,920
  • Georgia: $175,880
  • Hawaii: $202,890
  • Idaho: $206,360
  • Illinois: $198,480
  • Indiana: $171,730
  • Iowa: $169,990
  • Kansas: $170,710
  • Kentucky: $128,850
  • Louisiana: $145,980
  • Maine: $236,060
  • Maryland: $180,600
  • Massachusetts: $205,160
  • Michigan: $213,250
  • Minnesota: $213,310
  • Mississippi: $168,250
  • Missouri: $157,030
  • Montana: $171,950
  • Nebraska: $178,490
  • Nevada: $203,450
  • New Hampshire: $222,430
  • New Jersey: $177,570
  • New Mexico: $166,910
  • New York: $170,350
  • North Carolina: $178,980
  • North Dakota: $203,890
  • Ohio: $196,920
  • Oklahoma: $182,190
  • Oregon: $215,750
  • Pennsylvania: $155,360
  • Rhode Island: $258,920
  • South Carolina: $159,810
  • South Dakota: $187,850
  • Tennessee: $167,460
  • Texas: $184,410
  • Utah: $147,730
  • Vermont: $254,190
  • Virginia: $196,890
  • Washington: $187,520
  • West Virginia: $127,950
  • Wisconsin: $200,640
  • Wyoming: $133,750

How does the average salary for dentists compare to other jobs?

Pulling in an average of $180,830 per year is quite the achievement. But as far as dental jobs go, general dentists actually fall near the bottom of the list.

  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon: $234,990
  • Orthodontist: $237,990
  • Prosthodontist: $214,870
  • Other specialized dentist: $194,930
  • General dentist: $180,830
  • Dental hygienist: $78,050

According to the American Dental Education Association, the average dental student graduated with $301,583 of student debt in 2021. So if you discover your humble $180,830-per-year salary doesn’t cut it, there are plenty of ways to specialize and grow.

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About the Author

Mitchell Glass

Mitchell Glass

Freelance Contributor

Mitchell is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.com.

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