Home Jobs & Education What is the Average Dentist Salary?

As a fact, dental professionals are among best paid physicians worldwide. The average dentist salary in the US today is around $123 K per year, which does not include cash compensations for specialists like orthodontists or dental surgeons. Find out what the highest dentist wages are across the States and what factors influence the amount of money they earn.

The Average General Dentist Salary in the US

Statistics show that in average, a general dentist can bring home no less than $75,506 and no more than $232,336 as for May, 2015.

A portrait of a dental assistant smiling at the camera with the dentist working in the background.

What are the Benefits of Being a Dentist?

If you wonder what other benefits are there for dentists, not only that they have paid holidays and medical cover, but also can benefit from bonuses, commissions and profit sharing. If bonuses can reach $25k annually, profit sharing and commissions can exceed $80k.

What Does a General Dentist Do?

To put it simple, everybody knows what dentists do. They ensure we have nice and healthy smiles, taking care of our oral hygiene or teeth injuries. General dentists are professionals that work in the health care system, performing general practice as compared to practitioners who chose to further specialize and perform more complex tasks. These other specialties include endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, prosthodontics and dental public health, which are far better paid.

What Are the Main Duties of a General Dentist?

  • Examine patients with diseases or injuries of teeth, gums and related tissues.
  • Conduct tests and examine X-rays to identify diseases and malformations of teeth and mouth tissues.
  • Diagnose dental diseases; these may be problems of gums, nerve, pulp etc.
  • Treat problems like decayed or cracked teeth
  • Prescribe forms of treatment and medications to correct teeth damages.
  • Advise and provide preventive care to patients with teeth problems.

How to Become a Dentist?

Becoming a dentist requires time and dedication. The average training a general dentist has to undergo may take 8 years in average. As we have already touched on this subject, please access our post to find out more about how long it takes to become a doctor of dental medicine.

To sum it up, these are the job requirements for this profession:

Education &Training

  • To earn the title of doctor of dental medicine, you need to apply for an undergraduate program at an accredited dental school.
  • Completing a four-year degree if not enough to become a dentist tough. In order to practice you also have to pass a national examination and fulfill continuing trainings.


If you wish to further specialize, you need to follow additional training depending on the nine dental specialties. This means you will complete a 1- or 2-year residency in a postgraduate program related to the field you chose. Dental surgery may require 4 additional years of training after completing the 4-year degree.

Exams, Certifications and Licenses

All dentists need to be licensed in the state they wish to practice. This may require passing a written and practical examination.

Work Hours

Dentists, like the majority of health professionals work full time, which means 37 and 40 hours per week. Their schedule vary depending on work setting and patients’ needs.


Dentists Salary by Specialty

Wonder what’s the best paid dental specialty out there?

If the average salary of a general dentist is around $127K, a pediatric dentist salary can reach an average of $177k and a maximum of $256K. Orthodontists appear to earn $200k in average per year, while prosthodontists can get around $150k. The best pay rate is, though, for oral and maxillofacial surgeons, whose salaries range between $100k and $444 k annually.

If you are curious about how much other dental care workers make as compared to a dental specialist, according to PayScale, the dentist assistant salary is around $31K per year, while the average dental hygienist salary slightly exceeds $70k.

Dentist Salary by Industry

Average wages for dental professionals depend not only on years of experience and specialty, but also on geographical location and industry. As regards the work settings for dentists, these generally perform in public or private offices or as self-employed professionals.

Here are the top paying industries for this occupation:

Industry Annual Average Salary
Offices of Dentists $169,360
Management of Companies and Enterprises $165,180
State Government (OES Designation) $156,270
Offices of Other Health Practitioners $153,380
Employment Services $152,610

Dentist Salary by State

According to Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2014, the highest concentration of jobs for this occupation is located in Massachusetts, with an annual average payment of $175K. Montana is the first runner up, followed by Maryland.

However, highest annual salaries are for dentists working in Delaware, New Hampshire and Alaska, with wages ranging from $204K to $225K.

As regards top paying metropolitan areas, a dentist working in Lafayette, IN can bring home no less than $264K.

 Employment Facts – Highest Concentration of Jobs in the US

State Number of Jobs Hourly mean wage Annual Average Salary
Massachusetts 3,520 $84.27 $175,280
Montana 450 $62.69 $130,390
Maryland 2,500 $76.84 $159,830
Utah 1,240 $54.32 $112,990
South Dakota 390 $79.13 $164,590



Top Paying States

State Hourly Rate Annual Average Salary
Delaware $108.09 $224,830
New Hampshire $104.92 $218,230
Alaska $98.98 $205,880
North Carolina $98.95 $205,820
Vermont $98.44 $204,760

Top paying metropolitan areas:

Metropolitan area Hourly Rate Annual Average Salary
Lafayette, IN $127.17 $264,500
Brownsville-Harlingen, TX $123.50 $256,870
Wausau, WI $122.92 $255,670
Jacksonville, NC $122.91 $255,660
College Station-Bryan, TX $121.92 $253,600
Merced, CA $120.52 $250,690
Idaho Falls, ID $120.34 $250,310
Holland-Grand Haven, MI $118.03 $245,500
Rochester-Dover, NH-ME $117.34 $244,060

Quick Job Facts

General Dentist Average Salary as for May 2015  $122,949
Entry-level Average Salary (0-5 years) $116, 000
Mid-level Career Average Salary (5-10 years) $138,000
Experienced Average Salary (10 – 20 years) $147,000
Late Career Average Salary (>20 years) $153,000
Education Requirements  Bachelor’s Degree for General PracticePostgraduate Training for Specialists
Certification and Licenses License issued by the State of Practice
Best Paying State Delaware ($224,830)
Work Hours 40 hours/ week + additional hoursFlexible schedule according to patients’ needs
Job Prospects Employment level expected to grow with 16 percent + 23,300 new jobs until 2020


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