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is dentistry really all that good?

Discussion in 'Pre-Dental' started by dentalapp, Sep 21, 2002.

  1. dentalapp

    dentalapp Member
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    Don't get me wrong. There are many people, including myself, who perceive pulling tooth as all play.

    But I am concerned with the finances and security associated with dentistry.

    I live in NYC and, on my block of the street alone, there are three dentists with their offices on the first floor of some apartment buildings. When I walk one block away, I see another dentist's sign hanging from a post. By the time you reach the end of Main St, you would have already walked past over 10 dentists within 10 min of walking.

    During my 15+ years of residence on this street, I honestly never saw anyone walk into those clinics. I even try staying from dentists myself and the last time I went to one seems to be a blur. But one thing that I remember from my previous visit was when my parents were having a conversation with the dentist for about 20 min or so, and we were the only patients there at the time.

    Does anyone here have the same experiences/feelings that I have?

    Are these dentists, the ones I mentioned, making the ave. of around $120,000 that ADA claims is the typical salary of a dentist? Or are they barely making their ends meet?
     
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  3. Pi__Guy1

    Pi__Guy1 Senior Member
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    I'm a first year right now and all I've heard from NY professors here and dentists back in Chicago (my hometown) is that this is the Golden age of dentistry. Lots of dentists envy the generation that is starting dental school now. By the time we graduate, we'll be in a good market.

    Don't quote me on these statistics, but in orientation they told us that there are 6000 dentists that will retire each year. And 4000 graduate from dental school each year. Also, the baby boomers are starting to retire and get old so this will effect us in a good way. There is no better time in dentistry than now. You just have to be careful where you practice b/c your area might be saturated w/ dentists. I know that Cali is pretty saturated. But I hear that the midwest is a pretty good place to practice....
     
  4. smile_doctor

    smile_doctor Senior Member
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    Dentalapp:

    There are several things that play into how successful a dental practice is. Included among them are: how skilled the dentist is, the dentist's personality, the location of the business, the methods used for advertising, the range of treatment that the dentist provides, how motivated the dentist is, etc.

    Practicing dentistry requires a business acumen in addition to clinical proficiency. It is hard to say why the practices that you're referring to appear to be slow. Like anything, success in the practice of dentistry comes thru hard work. Rest assured that dentistry is a lucrative career. My dentist's practice generates over $1 million per year in income, and my dentist probably nets about a third of that (or more) as take home income.

    Keep in mind that money is just the bonus of the career. The real earnings come in the personal satisfaction gained from making life better for the patients, and in the pride taken in your craftsmanship (at least in my opinion).

    Smile_doc:cool:
     
  5. ItsGavinC

    Dentist Moderator Emeritus 15+ Year Member

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    The finances and security associated with dentistry are amazing. And as was stated, we are entering the "golden age of dentistry". Profits are up, public knowledge of oral health is up, painless procedures are now the norm, etc.

    You mentioned seeing several dentists within a certain block radius, and then mention that you've lived there for 15+ years. If those clinics have been there for 15+ years, then they certainly have some sort of stable patient base, regardless of whether or not you've seen patients entering their doors.

    I'd venture to say that those dentists are making MORE than the $120k the ADA quotes. And if I'm not mistaken, that's for new dentists. Dentists working 10-15 years (such as those you are talking about) would bring home $180k. Then, of course, there are some who can't run a business plan at all, and they are having difficulties.
     
  6. UBTom

    UBTom Class '04 official geezer
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    Hi dentalapp:

    The kind of practice you work in depends on your personal preference.

    I've been to one of those quiet apartment practices off Main Street in Flushing (that's the area you are referring to, right?), and the dentist was one of those "old-school" guys who had been in the profession for 20+ years who liked to take things easy. He prefers doing prostho stuff (FPDs, RPDs, complete dentures), and makes a pretty good living seeing just 3-4 patients a day, considering that his fee for a 3-unit FPD bridge starts at $1000 and wanders upwards depending on the case. Because he likes to take it easy, he doesn't gross as much as other dentists ($100K/yr), but still enough to live comfortably.

    On the other hand, my sister (NYUCD '00) is one of those ambitious, fast-paced new generation of dentists who prefer doing cutting edge stuff like cosmetic restorations, implant surgeries, etc. She prefers to work in a busy upscale group practice in a medical professional campus-type setting in Westchester and sees 10+ patients a day. Her gross this year was $180K.

    How you practice and how much you want to make as a dentist ultimately depends on... You.

    That's the beauty of being a dentist. :D
     
  7. Leon

    Leon Member
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    I think UBTom is right :)

    I live in Israel, but the situation isn't much different than in the US

    My father is one of those taking things easy dentists ... he loves the job, but he also enjoys sports activities, playing strategy games on his PC and watching TV. So seing a few patients a day is enough for him :)

    On the contraty, I'm very ambitious - so when I graduate from dental school (hopefully in 3 more years :) ) - I'll try to start up a more busy practice (advertisement, working hard, etc) :)

    So ... YOUR INCOME REALLY DOES DEPEND ON YOU

    P.S.
    You life style is depends more on how much you spend, and not how much you earn. You can make 150K a year and spend all your life paying out debts, or you can live comfortably with one third of that.

    P.P.S.
    120K$ is much more than an average dentist makes in Israel, so I hope you guys won't mind me taking advantage of this so called "golden age" in the states :) There will be plenty of room for all of us ! :)
     
  8. dragonj

    dragonj Human rights activist
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    dentistry as far as incomes go is in the top ten best incomes nationally. in georgia the only income higher is medical doctor.
    i worked for my parents' thai restaurant here in conyers, ga and we mainly get all the dentists and doctors and any people with a good income. and i've had the chance to talk to them on a more personal level. (conyers is real small. people love to talk and be friendly.) the doctors envy the dentists cause they make just as much money, some even more, they don't have as much on-call beeper stuff to deal with, don't have the stress of people dying, and of course the crap that comes with HMO's and insurance. i even had one doctor tell me to not go to medical school or become a medical doctor.
    i do have to wonder why all those dentists in new york don't have many patients seeing them. maybe it just seemed that way. or maybe those dentists are really old and have cut down their clientelle so they don't have to work so much cause they don't need to.
    for sure, i wouldn't worry about not making that much money. you're pretty set for life if you like being a dentist.
     
  9. nycdoc

    nycdoc Senior Member
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    You absolutely have to take all the statistics with a grain of salt. In my dental school we're being told that there will be a shortage of dentists because of the large numbers that are possibly retiring. This is a projection for the future and is nothing more than speculation. It is definitely not set in stone.

    In my class the prof. showed a graph that estimated a severe shortage of dentists by 2030. Come on, that is total B.S. If there's a shortage, you can bet that the gov. will do whatever it can to increase the #s of practicing dentists. It happened in the late 70s and the dental lobby started fighting back to protect the profession. The numbers will fluctuate...I seriously doubt that there will be a shortage.

    Also, the population IS getting older and there will be more need for dental services. But as we're being lectured in class: need does not equal demand. The worst ghettos have the most need but no cash to pay for dental services. I bet a large % of the elderly will be living on SS and Medicare/Medicaid.....not exactly the ideal patient who will demand $1000 bridges. So that's not a sure thing either.

    Right now there are a lot of job offers for recent dental grads..that's a fact. But the avg. salary in the 1st year (for a recent graduate with no GPR/AEGD) in the northeast is 50 K, 60 if you're lucky. <-This stat. provided by several speakers at a Academy of General Dentistry meeting. Real dentists who just graduated, were great students, and are struggling. Imagine what your take-home pay will be after $2000 in student loans per month. Keep in mind this is the first year and you'll see a substantial raise after 5/6 years which is likely to approach 6 figures. The payoff is there but it's not instantaneous. Also, nothing is guaranteed.
    The schools will feed you all this crap about the 'golden age of dentistry'. The faculty at my school are passionate about the profession but the administration loves to tell you how easy and wonderful everything will be. I don't blame them....they're selling a 4 year, >$100,000 product. They need good adverstising.

    Don't get me wrong, I love what I'm learning and I don't want to do anthing else. But I also bought into the public perception that all dentists make a ton of money and it's just not true. Some are doing very well and a lot more are doing just average. This profession will provide you with a lifestyle that 90% of people can't afford. But don't start dreaming about being a millionare or anything....it will take a substantial # of years and a lot of hard work after school to see a return on your investment.
     
  10. Pi__Guy1

    Pi__Guy1 Senior Member
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    I agree with some of your reasoning, NYCDOC. But really, like you said, everything happens in cycles. And, now, the cycle is in our favor (retiring statistic, demand for dentists)...ie: the golden age.

    btw, let me fill up your glass......your cup seems half empty
     
  11. EcoRI

    EcoRI Senior Member
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    My friend graduated from Ohio State University about 5 or 6 years ago. I don't think he has ever made less than 200K. Just recently he told me he is going to make about 350K this year and he's not even a specialist! Anyway, he works in the midwest and I'm sure it make a huge difference that he was able to buy an established practice.
     
  12. nycdoc

    nycdoc Senior Member
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    Pi-Guy1,
    yeah I guess that sounded quite pessimistic but that wasn't my intention. :D I'm in dental school ! can you blame me for being a little stressed? ;) I probably shouldn't post after getting back my lab grade on wax-ups.
    I'm very happy to have chosen this career path and I know I'll do well.....I'm very optimistic about the profession's future. In fact, I even love my school - not something that most dental students say.
    My point was that nothing is guaranteed. I prepare for the worst and hope for the best...has worked for me so far.

    And also, it's just my opinion formed from my experiences. Who knows, I could be wrong once I graduate and get out there. Then I'll be wrong all the way from my lucrative practice to the bank.
    I just think that it's a good idea to be skeptical about all the info. one hears.

    and EcoR1, I know you're not exaggerating. I have heard from just about everyone that you can make bank in the midwest.

    Good luck everybody
     
  13. ItsGavinC

    Dentist Moderator Emeritus 15+ Year Member

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    In response to the recent comments in this topic, I think I should mention just one phrase: "q3".

    As in, be glad you don't have to take it, while those other doctors do! :)

    I worked as an EKG tech in a hospital two summers ago, and they made us pull q3. It was a living hell. Trust me.
     
  14. UBTom

    UBTom Class '04 official geezer
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    to pi-guy and nycdoc:

    Hey guys, hope you both are doing well in your freshman year. :) Freshman dental school is two years in my past but I remember its joys and frustrations like it was yesterday.

    All I can say is this: My sister and her circle of friends from the NYU Class of 2000 all graduated with very high prospects. All of them are fast-paced, very career-oriented, and earn a LOT of money right out of the gate because NYUCD trains them that way (and this will apply to you too, pi-guy!). Many of them work in the NYC area, proof positive that if you learn some marketable skills, you can definitely thrive even in this very competitive city.

    I said it before and I'll say it again: How you practice and how much money you make as a dentist is ultimately up to you, nevermind the statistics (and this applies to you too, dentalapp, if you are reading this).

    P.S. We got representation on this board from UB (me, Griffin04), NYU (Pi-Guy and a buncha others), Columbia (nycdoc, right?), but nobody from Stony. Go figger.. :D
     

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