Originally Posted by djeffreyt
A couple things here:
If a dentist is solo practitioner and doesn't have an LLC or PC set up through which he pays himself, then it's simple math:
Collected $ - expenses = gross income.
The average dental office will have between 50-60% overhead for all those things mentioned before: (Salaries and wages, Payroll taxes, Employee benefits, Rent, Property taxes, Insurances, Electricity, Lab Fees, Materials, Etc). It will depend on # of employees, how much you pay them, how good your benefits are, if you use brand name materials versus copycat materials, how wasteful are you with materials, how expensive is your lab, how much is your rent (do you work in Manhattan or Nebraska?), and how much you charge for your services.
Now if you have an LLC or PC set up, the equation isn't so simple. Lots of dentists are set up as PCs and LLCs in order to protect their assests from lawsuits that could otherwise ruin them. How much you get paid through one of these situations is more complicated and often has many tax benefits.
As for specialists, depending on the specialty, overhead varies a lot. Used to be Endo had almost no materials and definitely no lab overhead, but with the advent of disposable rotary files, things are more expensive now.
Finally, how much you make depends on where you go and what you want to do. Want to work in a boutique dental office seeing 6-8 patients a day, 4 days a week? Well, if you aren't good at selling yourself and your confidence, you won't make crap and most patients at practices like that would probably walk down the street to a guy with 20 years experience on you for the work. If you are a good salesman, you can make a lot doing this. If you wanna work medicaid seeing 20-30 patients a day and drilling and filling and crowning and extracting for 5.5 days a week...well, you might go home with a backache every day but you might do pretty good.
Most of my friends are in their 2nd, 3rd, 4th years out of school. Some own their own practices now and others are associates in private practice, large groups, etc. The range of pay for associates is anywhere from $120,000 to $250,000 gross a year. Those who own also vary greatly. One guy owns a single private practice and sees patients 3 days a week and does admin on the fourth day. He's grossing about $150,000 a year right now. Then there is the other extreme, multiple practice owner, hires lots of associates, see mass patients and probably grossing well over a million at this point.