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

Updated on March 29, 2012
Dentists typically have a staff of assistants.
Dentists typically have a staff of assistants. | Source

© 2011 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 2011 and was updated on March 27, 2012.

General Dentists

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

  • They make a mean $77.66 per hour or $161,750 per year.
  • Of the 90,950 general dentists in the U.S., about 81,910 work for themselves or other dentists, where they earn the highest wages of any employer at a mean $79.22 per hour or $164,780 per year.
  • They make the highest salaries in New Hampshire, with a mean $114.15 per hour or $237,430 per year, and Delaware, with a mean $101.17 per hour or $210,440 per year. For cities, the highest salaries are in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Tyler, Texas, where they run over $90 per hour or $187,199 per year.
  • Jobs for this profession are expected to increase by a total of 21 percent until 2020, 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 $104.51 per hour or $217,380 per year. This makes them the highest paid dental specialists in America.
  • Of the total 5,800 oral surgeons, 4,660 work for themselves or for other dentists, where they earn the highest salaries of any employer at a mean $109 per hour or $226,710.
  • They earn the most money in the states of Washington, South Dakota and Maine. In cities, the best paying jobs are in Providence, Rhode Island; Houston, Texas; and New York City. In the first two cities, pay exceeds $80 per hour or $166,400 per year. In New York, earnings average $112.75 per hour or $234,520 per year
  • Jobs are expected to increase by 21 percent, which is better than average.

Metal bridgework created by a prosthodontist.
Metal bridgework created by a prosthodontist. | Source

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 560 specialists make a mean $62.89 per hour or $130,820 per year, which is the lowest wage of any dental specialist.
  • About 470 work for themselves or in other dentists' offices, where the wages are unspecified. The remainder work for medical equipment manufacturers, earning a mean $39.20 per hour or $81,540 per year.
  • Due to the low employment numbers, the Department of Labor does not break salaries down by location. However, the department sees positions increasing by 21 percent, which is better than average.

Orthodontists fashion braces.
Orthodontists fashion braces. | Source

Orthodontists

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

  • They make a mean $98.40 per hour or $204,670 per year, which is the highest wage of any non-surgical dental specialist.
  • Of the 5,040 professionals, 4,840 work for themselves or other dentists, earning the highest mean salaries of $99.69 per hour or $207,350 per year.
  • The top-paying states for this specialty are Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the top-paying cities are Virginia Beach, Virginia; St. Louis, Missouri; and Omaha, Nebraska. In all these locations, the mean wages run $90 per hour or $187,199 per year.
  • Employment will increase by 21 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 4,850 of these specialists make a mean $80.77 per hour or $168,000 per year.
  • About 2,320 work for themselves or other dentists, where they earn the highest means of $95.51 per hour or $198,650 per year.
  • Top paying states for the specialty are New Hampshire, with pay over $90 per hour or $187,199, and Oregon, with a mean $106.97 per hour or $222,510 per year. For metro areas, the highest wages are in Hagerstown, Maryland, which are over $90 per hour or $187,199 per year, and Sacramento, California, with $118.96 per hour or $247,440 per year.
  • Jobs will increase by 12 percent.

Comments

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    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 6 years ago from United States

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

      excellent hub!

    • profile image

      reyscuisia 6 years ago

      Another well researched & excellent article by my favorite writer.

    • Marlin 55 profile image

      Marlin 55 6 years ago from USA

      Great hub. Thanks for all the good information.

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