How much do General Dentists make?

an examination of General Dentist income using the B.L.S. and A.D.A. data sets
Author: Dr. Charley Levy

We have 2 reliable sources of data to help answer this question: the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (B.L.S.) Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey and the American Dental Association’s (A.D.A.) Survey of Dental Practice. Both data sets include information on income for both General Dentists and Specialists.  In this post, we will only explore the income of General Dentists.  We have also looked at the same data for Specialists. These data sets provide longitudinal data over the last 17 years (B.L.S.) and 30 years (A.D.A.) that allow us to see how income has changed over the last 2+ decades.

From the B.L.S. data, the mean income for General Dentists in 2020 was $181K.  This number rose steadily since 2004 when the average income was $133K.  This amounts to about a 2% increase in annual income. Covid-19’s impact on the dental industry was reflected in the 2021 data, where the average dropped to $167K.   

The A.D.A. survey tells a similar story.  General Dentist income peaked in 2019 with an average of $172K. This amounts to about a 1.5% annual increase since 2000, when the average income was $130K.  The pandemic’s impact was reflected in the 2020 data, where the average General Dentist income dropped to $143K.  

The A.D.A survey also gives us insight as to how General Dentist income varies by employment type.  Specifically, they compare Owners to Employed dentists.  The A.D.A. further breaks down owners into ‘solo' owners and ‘nonsolo’ owners. There is a clear hierarchy that becomes clear when looking at the data. Owners make more than the Employed. Among owners, ‘nonsolo’ owners make more than ‘solo’ owners.  This trend has held up over the last 20 years.  It is also true for Specialist’s income, which we have also analyzed.  In 2019 (prior to the effect of Covid-19), Owners averaged an income of $187K while Employed general dentists averaged $139K.  Amongst Owners, ‘nonsolo’ owners averaged $221K compared to ‘solo’ owners that averaged $173K.

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