In 2017, Dentists earned an average salary of over $174K annually, according to U.S News And Reports. That’s over $120K more than the average U.S household income in 2019. 

But why do Dentists earn so much? 

Here are 4 reasons why Dentists get paid big bucks in the U.S:

Dental School Is Long And Expensive

Dental school is expensive. An average dental degree costs over $240,000. Public schools are slightly less expensive, but private dental school can cost even more, at almost $300,000—and that doesn’t include the required bachelors before even applying to dental school.

Not only is dental school expensive, but it’s long too. It takes a bachelors (3-5 yrs.) plus a four-year dental school degree to become a Dentist. That’s after you’ve passed the Dental Admissions Test (DAT).

Even worse, 80% of 2016 dental school graduates left college with over $100,000 in debt and 30% left with over $300,000, according to 

The expense and length of dental school in the U.S add to the overall cost of dental work in the country which improves dental practice’s profitability as well. In other areas, like Mexico and much of Central America, it requires only a bachelor’s degree in dentistry to start a practice. That means more dentists, shorter wait times, lowered costs and less wealthy dentists.

The American Medical System

Like any other industry, in the U.S healthcare is a business. And that means a dentist or a group of dentists who runs a medical practice need to make a profit if they want to pay off those dental school loans and feed their families. 

Running a dental practice in the United States is a difficult and time-consuming process. The American healthcare/insurance system is full of bureaucracy, regulations, and paperwork that increases the overall overhead and requires dentists to have full-time staff. 

All of the above means it costs a lot to go to the dentist. Dentists are highly valued and are able to charge a lot for their services. Furthermore, dental insurance is expensive so many people go without and end up paying even more, quicker right into the pockets of dentists.

Dentists Are In Short Supply In The U.S

Perhaps the number one reason Dentists make so much money in the U.S is they are in short supply. In fact, there are currently only around 200,000 practicing dentists in the U.S. 

This means there are only roughly 60 dentists for every 100,000 people in the US. 

When it comes down to simple supply and demand, dentists are set up to make the big bucks in the States.

Competition From Dental Executive Jobs

Competition from dental executive jobs is the final reason why Dentists are so well paid. 

Whether it be the head of a full-service dental laboratory or a dental director with the State Department of Health, dentists don’t have to just drill cavities all day.

There are a number of high paying administrative and executive jobs available for well-trained dentists who also have some management experience. Executive Recruiters contact dentists far more than you might think.

Becoming a Dentist is difficult, the business is time-consuming, and the work can be unrefined, but if you’re looking to make a lot of money and have a stable job, then it may be the perfect fit for you.