How much do Dental Specialists make?

an examination of Dental Specialist 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 the previous post, we looked at the income of General Dentists.  In this post, we will explore the income of Dental Specialists. This includes Oral Surgeons, Orthodontists, Endodontists, Periodontists, Prosthodontists and Pediatric Dentists.  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 for various Dental Specialists.   

For the A.D.A. data, income dropped about 15% from 2019 to 2020 due to Covid-19. Indications are that current dental spending has returned to pre-pandemic levels so we will use 2019 as a reference as opposed to the suppressed data from 2020.  Income for Specialists peaked in 2019 at $281K. This was significantly more than the $172K for General Dentists.  Among the specialists, the top 2 earning fields were Oral Surgery ($396K) and Endodontics ($299K).  This trend of Oral Surgery as #1 and Endodontics as #2 has been consistent for the last 20 years.  Orthodontics and Periodontics followed at$270K.  Pediatric Dentistry averaged $243K.  There was insufficient data on Prosthodontists.

Similar to the A.D.A. data, the B.L.S. survey shows Oral Surgeons as the top earning specialty.  Orthodontists followed as a close 2nd.  The B.L.S. survey grouped Endodontists, Periodontists, and Pediatric Dentists together. This trio of specialties barely out earned General Dentists over the last 20 years.  

Amongst specialists, the A.D.A. survey consistently had higher averages than the B.L.S data, but some reasonable conclusions can be made when looking at these 2 data sources.  Oral Surgeons earned the most, averaging more than $300K.  Endodontists, Orthodontists and Periodontists followed, averaging about $250K-$300K.  Pediatric Dentists and Prosthodontists were the lowest earning specialists with an average of about $200K.  

The A.D.A survey also gives us insight as to how Dental Specialist 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 General Dentist’s income, which we broke down in our previous post.   

In 2019 (income dropped significantly in 2020 due to Covid-19), Owners averaged an income of $299K, while Employed general dentists averaged $210K. Amongst Owners, ‘nonsolo’ owners averaged $390K compared to ‘solo’ owners that averaged $276K.  

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