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Tooth Fairies’ Rewards: The Highest Paid Dentists and Dental Specialists in America

Dentists typically have a staff of assistants.

Dentists typically have a staff of assistants.

© 2018 by Aurelio Locsin

When tooth pain flares up or gums get nasty, you visit your dentist for relief. He not only fixes you up by taking x-rays and performing dental procedures, but prevents future problems by advising you on brushing, flossing and good diet. Most dentists work solo and are general practitioners, though they can send patients to specialists for complex procedures.

The profession requires a minimum of two years of college, though most practitioners have at least a bachelor’s degree. Then follows two to four years of dental school, plus two to four years for specialties, and a possible two-years post-graduate residency. States mandate a license before a dentist can practice. Salaries of dentists in America depend on their job type, employer and location. All information is from the U.S. Department of Labor as of 2017.

General Dentists

General dentists handle common tooth procedures including regular check-ups, teeth-cleaning and the filling of cavities.

  • They make a mean $83.71 per hour or $174,110 per year.
  • Of the 110,400 general dentists in the U.S., about 99,490 work for themselves or other dentists, where they earn a mean $84.92 per hour or $176,630 per year.
  • The highest paying employers are residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities with an average of $89.23 per hour or $185,610 annually.
  • They make the highest salaries in Delaware, with a mean $123.70 per hour or $257,290 per year, and North Dakota with a mean $114.51 per hour or $238,170 per year. For cities, the highest salaries are in Longview, Texas, where they run over $100 per hour or $208,000 per year.
  • Jobs for this profession are expected to increase by a total of 19 percent until 2026, which is better than average for any job. This is because the U.S. population is growing older, and keeping more of their teeth, which requires more dental care.

Oral Surgeons

Oral surgeons are not only dentists but also medical doctors with a surgical specialty. They perform operations to extract difficult teeth, correct jaw deformities, or treat diseases.

  • They earn a mean $116.70 per hour or $242,740 per year. This makes them the highest paid dental specialists in America.
  • Of the total 4,800 oral surgeons, 4,100 work for themselves or for other dentists, where they earn the highest salaries of any employer at a mean $126.41 per hour or $262,930.
  • They earn the most money in the states of South Dakota, Ohio, and North Carolina. In cities, the best paying jobs are in Myrtle Beach and Miami, Florida, and Washington DC. In the first city, pay exceeds $100 per hour or $208,000 per year. In Miami, earnings average $39.21 per hour or $289,570 per year
  • Jobs are expected to increase by 19 percent, which is better than average.
Metal bridgework created by a prosthodontist.

Metal bridgework created by a prosthodontist.

Prosthodontists

Prosthodontists create oral prostheses, such as crowns and bridges, to replace missing teeth, and restore functions such as chewing and speaking, and to improve appearance.

  • These 430 specialists make a mean $94.69 per hour or $196,960 per year, which is the lowest wage of any dental specialist.
  • About 350 work for themselves or in other dentists' offices, where the wages are $98.19 hourly or $204,230 yearly.
  • Due to the low employment numbers, the Department of Labor does not break salaries down by location. However, the department sees positions increasing by 19 percent, which is better than average.
Orthodontists fashion braces.

Orthodontists fashion braces.

Orthodontists

Orthodontists fix misaligned teeth by providing appliances such as braces, which straighten teeth for medical and cosmetic reasons.

  • They make a mean $110.28 per hour or $229,380 per year, which is the highest wage of any non-surgical dental specialist.
  • Of the 5,080 professionals, 4,710 work for themselves or other dentists, earning the highest mean salaries of $113.49 per hour or $236,060 per year.
  • The top-paying states for this specialty are Washington, Virginia, and Nebraska, and the top-paying cities are Yakima, Washington; Stockton, California; and Phoenix. In all these locations, the mean wages run $100 per hour or $208,000 per year.
  • Employment will increase by 19 percent.

Other Specialists

Other specialists cover dental positions not broken out into specific groups including endodontists (root canal specialists), oral pathologists or pediatric dentists.

  • About 4,590 of these specialists make a mean $96.15 per hour or $199,980 per year.
  • About 2,010 work for themselves or other dentists, where they earn the highest means of $118.18 per hour or $245,800 per year.
  • Top paying states for the specialty are North Dakota, with averages at $129.89 per hour or $270,180 per year, and Utah, with a mean $123.94 per hour or $257,800 per year.
  • For metro areas, the highest wages are in Dallas, Texas, at over $100 per hour or $208,000 per year, and Charlotte, North Carolina, averaging $135.97 or $282,830 per year.
  • Jobs will increase by 13 percent.

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Comments

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2019:

The job growth statistics should encourage students to think about entering the dentistry field.

Ruchira from United States on March 14, 2012:

wow...such an extensive research alocsin. You are profound in doing researches.

excellent hub!

reyscuisia on January 08, 2012:

Another well researched & excellent article by my favorite writer.

Marlin 55 from USA on June 23, 2011:

Great hub. Thanks for all the good information.