Dentists are among the best paid professionals in the health care industry. Still, earnings vary considerably depending on education, geographical location and type of services offered. Specialists earn more than general practitioners, especially in large cities. Whether a dentist is self-employed or works as a salaried professional is also a big factor.
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Most dentists work independently and earn money per treatment or patient's visit, rather than having a steady salary. Because of this, it is difficult to asses how much a particular dentist can earn, as this depends on the number of patients he sees and the rates he has chosen to charge for his services. As a national average, dentists earned £89,024 in 2006, which comes to an hourly wage of about £46.70. This is based mostly on general practitioners who work solo.
Earnings for dentists vary significantly from state to state. Delaware has the highest earnings ($184,690 or £57.7 per hour) and the lowest number of dentists per capita. North Carolina, Washington, Connecticut and Alaska all follow close behind with earnings of over £52 per hour. States with the lowest earnings include Louisiana ($101,900), Montana ($117,980) and Oklahoma ($114,920).
The vast majority of dentists are general practitioners, of which 70 per cent are self-employed, while the other 30 per cent work at least part-time for a clinic or as outside consultants in hospitals or health care facilities. Specialists usually earn more, depending on how much training is required for them to achieve the degree and how in demand is the speciality. For example, prosthodontists have an annual mean wage of £122,122, while orthodontists earn an average of £121,426 per year, about the same as oral and maxillofacial surgeons ($188,120). Dentists who work at general medical and surgical hospital earn an average of £44,726. However, this is usually the case for recent graduates or those who are not ready to start their own practice.
Dentists may charge more or less depending on the technology available in their own offices. For example, dentists at clinics that offer full service, including x-ray developing and imaging technologies, earn an hourly rate higher than those providing only basic care. Newer, more sophisticated equipment, such as the one needed by endodontists (dentists who specialise in root canal therapy), usually goes hand in hand with higher rates for patients. Paediatric dentists and those offering oral pathology care are also in the highest bracket of annual earnings.
Dentists who work as salaried professionals are employed by a variety of industries. Surprisingly, the highest paid industry for this occupation is ambulatory health care services ($163,080), in which dentists are not tied to a particular address but instead work part-time at different locations, sometimes even providing emergency care. Those who work for insurance companies ($162,460) and outpatient care centres ($154,970) come next. Dentists who are employed in dental offices earn the lowest salaries, averaging £97,292 a year.