Updated: 1/21/2020

“Why am I paying this person so much money to look at my teeth?” The chances are, you’ve asked yourself this question at least once before. Whether you were sitting in the dentist chair, pulling out the checkbook or driving home right after paying what felt like way too much money.

Really, the questions we all want answered is this: Why do dentists get paid so much? Is it a fair price?

Let’s discuss the details behind what a dentist gets paid – and why procedures cost so much.

What is the Salary of a Dentist?

Average Salary

In May 2014, The Bureau of Labor Statistics pulled together some percentile wage estimates for General Dentists (see below).


What the 50th percentile (or median wage) means is that 50% of dentists earn less than the median and 50% of dentists earn more. Still, it’s obvious that dental professionals get paid very well.

Depending on the specifics of each dentist, their wage could be different than the examples listed above. Other average annual salaries for dentists can include:

  • Self-Employed – $137,000–$221,000
  • Professional in Private Practices (or work at a physician’s office) – $106,823–$157,222
  • Male Dentist – $84,596–$242,904
  • Female Dentist – $59,598–$178,772
  • Working for the State Government – $146,810
  • Working at an Outpatient Care Center – $138,640
  • Working at a Surgical and General Medical Hospital – $146,810
  • Working at Substance Abuse and Psychiatric Hospitals – $142,030

(From: //www.salaryvoice.com/dentist-salary)

Which Cities Pay Dentists More?

Below is a picture of the annual mean wage for general dentists in May of 2014, by state (from BLS).

wages of dentists

To view more salary-by-state statistics, take a look at the graph here.

Why Do Dentists Get Paid So Much?

A dental professional is one of the highest paying jobs in the United States. While some people think it’s unreasonable, the reality is that dentists have a lot to pay for themselves. The cost that you

dental office

Photo by East Midtown / CC-BY-SA

pay goes toward a dentist’s salary as well as:

  • Business Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Office Managers/Receptionists
  • Payroll for Hygienists
  • Rent/Mortgage for Office Space
  • Supplies
  • Taxes
  • Technology

When it comes to technology, many dentists have said, “You get what you pay for.” Meaning that if you’re paying a lot, it’s likely that the office you go to has newer technology that will produce high-quality results. Keep in mind that your teeth are a long-term investment – it’s better for everyone to get the job done correctly the first time than having to get it redone.

How Does Compensation Work – With and Without Insurance?

Do dentists get the same amount of compensation for a procedure if it’s paid for by insurance rather than out-of-pocket? Usually, the insurance company will negotiate rates with the dentist. The dentist is free to accept the rates from the insurance company or decline them, forfeiting their place as an in-network provider.

Why Are Dentists Okay With Affordable Dental Plans?

Let’s talk about dental insurance for a minute. While a lot of people consider it as a great option for covering dental procedures, what they don’t understand is that it actually doesn’t cover that much. Generally, for a lot of routine procedures you’ll need, you won’t be able to use insurance. Insurance is also one of the most complicated transactions that a dentist will have to deal with, so they don’t really love it either.

Without insurance, you are left facing huge costs that could take years to pay off. That’s where 1Dental comes in. We offer the perfect solution – for you and your dentist! While you can read all about why you would love our dental plans here, let’s look at why dentists love them, too.

  • They Join A Network. Talk about job security! The 1Dental network has millions of members in need of dental care—many of whom are looking for a dentist that takes the plan in their area.
  • No Time Wasted. Typically, the staff at a dental office spends a lot of time chasing after insurance companies to get reimbursements. With affordable dental plans, they don’t have to chase down companies for reimbursement.
  • Plan Activation is Immediate. Dentists sometimes have to turn patients away if they haven’t heard back from the insurance company. New members of 1Dental can use their discount plan right away.
  • They Can Focus on Their Work. If they accept 1Dental discount dental plans, the marketing is basically handled for them. Now they can focus on their patient’s teeth without distraction, making sure they are at ease in the office.

While it’s true that dentists get paid a lot of money, it isn’t for nothing. If you’re still stressed about trying to afford dental care – take a deep breath and check out the discount dental plans at 1Dental. These plans are guaranteed to save you time, money and a lot of grief.