How Much Do Dentists Make?

When picking out a profession many people wonder about pay because earning potential might impact which career path you choose.

By knowing how much you can earn in each field, you can better know what jobs best fit your desired lifestyle and have the ability to support yourself and your loved ones. 

The Different Kinds of Dental Professions

Dentistry is a great profession to go into if you want great hours along with great pay. There are also many different kinds of dentists so you have many choices within the field of dentistry as well. All dentists need to have a professional degree, which usually involves going to dental school, though some dental professions require even more schooling. As we go down this list of dentist professions, their amount of required education increases.

Dental Assistant

Dental assistants are like the RNs of the dentistry world. They help out the dentist, perform routine cleanings, take x-rays, keep records, and schedule appointments. 

General Dentist

A general dentist is a person you see for your regular annual dental checkup. 

They primarily focus on preventative care by teaching you how to take good care of your teeth so problems don’t occur in the first place. 

They’ll perform cleanings, X-rays, fillings, and other basic dental care. 

Pediatric Dentist

A pediatric dentist is just like a general dentist except they specialize in treating children. Children come with their own kind of teeth and their own struggles when it comes to doctors. 

So pediatric dentists are helpful in that they focus on managing children, teaching them in ways they’ll understand, making the experience at the dentist less scary, and caring for their young mouths as they grow from baby teeth to adult teeth. 

Orthodontist

If you have braces then you know that orthodontists are the ones you go to for this kind of care. 

But they don’t just handle braces. They also handle a lot of other issues connected to a misaligned mouth or jaw. 

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the surgeons of the mouth. They focus less on teeth and more on the tissues around the mouth—like gums, cheeks, lips, palates, tongue, and other facial tissues. 

These are obviously going to be more invasive treatments, so oral and maxillofacial surgeons continue school for a while after completing dental school. 

Though they focus more on the issues related to the mouth they do also deal with tooth extractions. 

Periodontist

Periodontists are all about your gums. They specialize in taking care of gum-specific problems and treatments. 

Some example issues that can occur with gums are inflammation, pain, and gum diseases. If you have an issue with your gums specifically, then you might need to see a periodontist. 

Prosthodontist

Prosthodontists are the people you go to when you need a tooth replacement. They take care of what’s called oral prosthetics, like false teeth. 

They are also the doctors you see in advertisements about getting extreme smile makeovers. 

Endodontist

Endodontists specialize in the inside of teeth. The inside of your tooth is actually full of soft, sensitive tissue and can suffer its own kinds of damages and ailments that need to be treated by a professional. These are also the dentists that perform root canals. 

How Much Do Dentists Make?

In 2018, dentists made an overall median salary of $156,240 per year and $75.12 per hour.The lowest-earning 10% of dentists earned less than $72,840 a year and the highest 10% earned more than $208,000 a year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), general dentists make an average of $151,850 a year. According to PayScale, pediatric dentists make an average $178,141 a year, orthodontists make $181,705, oral and maxillofacial surgeons make $243,806, periodontists make $173,939, prosthodontists make $169,853, endodontists make $201,080, and dental assistants make $34,095. These are the overall average salaries for dentists, but these figures can also vary depending on the state. Some of the top paying states for dentists are Rhode Island, Vermont, Alaska, Maine, and New Hampshire. Dentists do best in less dense areas because they are more likely to have less competition and therefore more pay and flexibility.

How to Become a Dentist

Now that you've seen the many benefits of becoming a dentist, you might wonder where to start on your journey to becoming one! 

Step One: Get a bachelor’s degree

It’s most helpful for you to major in a pre-dentistry major if your school provides something like that, or in a science major in order to have the upper hand later in dental school. 

Step Two: Take the Dental Admission Test

In a way, dentists have to take their own version of the MCAT, just like aspiring doctors do. It’s called the Dental Acceptance Test. It is administered by the American Dental Association. The test takes 5 hours, and the current average score is 19 out of 30 points.

Step Three: Get a doctorate

Make sure that whatever doctorate you go for will be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. This way you won’t have any problems getting your license to practice dentistry afterward. 

Step Four: Get licensed

To get your dental license you have to take another test. The National Board of Dental Examinations are administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examination

The perks of being a dentist are endless. Along with a great salary and job outlook, you can transform the lives of your patience and alleviate their fears along with their pains.