Salary of General Dentist

Discussion in 'Dental' started by endoman, Nov 7, 2001.

  1. endoman

    endoman Junior Member
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    I am interested in knowing what a general dentist can expect to make and how many days do they generally work
     
  2. Ineedanassociate

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    That depends are you talking about a salaried position like being on staff at a clinic or an associate in a private practice or being the owner of your own private practice?
     
  3. endoman

    endoman Junior Member
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    I am interested in buying an existing practice from an older general dentist. He provided me with his past 3 years tax returns, and he has been netting around 35K-40K/month. I find it hard to believe that a new dentist could make that kind of cash. Any comments would be appreciated.
     
  4. DrJeff

    DrJeff Senior Member
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    Those numbers are at the high end of netting for a GP. One thing to consider is that with a complete buy in(one where the keys are basically just handed over to you and the previous owner just walks away)is the patient loyalty to the previous Doc. Yes, alot of patients will stay, but some will leave. Also in an established practice alot of the crown and bridge(the big $$$ maker)isn't just Hi I'm Doctor X, you need 5 crowns, that will be $4000, lets do them today. Alot of the larger crown and bridge cases will come months to years after you first plant the seed with the patient. One day, generally during a recall exam(particularly if you've just told them that things look great and that nothing is needed now)the patient will say something like "remeber those crowns that you said I should have 3 years ago, well lets do them!"
    If you buy a practice like that, if those are the net numbers, I would suspect that you could plan on somewhere between 1/2 to 3/4's of that initially. You could expect that number to grow though within a year or 2 as patients get to know you, you build patient trust, and word of mouth spreads.
    One other thing to consider is what is the quality/technologic status of the current dentist. If they are antiquated and you plan on being modern, many of the patients will initially be quite skeptical, so you need to be cogniscent of how you discus the previous dentist with the patients, since most of the patients will have the opinion that the original dentist is the greatest in the world.

    I almost forgot, I work 3 and 1/2 days a week and teach 1/2 day every other week at UCONN. My partner works 3 days a week. My wife (an othodontist works 3 days a week and her partner works 4 days a week). Most dentist will work roughly 4 days a week.
     
  5. Salman20001

    Salman20001 Member
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    Dr.Jeff...that was some really really really valuable advice..one never thinks of those kind of small, yet very important, factors that could make a difference...Now since you are a doc, and I totally love your insight into things, if you are not too busy can you kindly answer these questions : (I had posted this before and would like more input on it)

    1) I come from a -low-income family..So basically any money I get will be for the most part in the form of loans...So here goes

    a) how much do Dentists in general get paid? (do you maybe have some personal knowledge)this seems to be constantly a touchy issue for people here...But I really want to know this, since I will have to pay these loans someday...

    b) Of all the specialities which one gets paid most...There was a post earlier on this forum, with some insane amounts for first year salaries (about 500k and so on)..Now as much as that would be a good thing, I find it really hard to believe that..

    2) I am assuming that there was a time when you might have considered dentistry or medicine? At this point of your career, would you still choose dentistry over medicine and why?

    I am sorry if these seem really personal, but feel free to avoid any questions. Any advice would be very helpful to me.
     
  6. DrJeff

    DrJeff Senior Member
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    Glad to give some insight here. Lets start with what you can expect the 1st year out. I'm sorry, but there will be a huge variance here depending on area, type of practice (inner city clinic vs. very affluent sububia, fee for service vs. managed care, etc) The range for my friends and myself that I've seen has been anywhere from 40,000 to 125,000 first year out. That doesn't even get into whether your paid based on a salary or a percentage of your productions or collections. The average that I've come across for a 1st year out general dentist is in the 60,000 to 80,000 range. Most of those numbers were based on a 4 1/2 day work week(roughly 35 hours).
    Based on the latest published figures that just appeared in Dental Economicsthe "average" earnings of a general dentist in the US is slightly under 130,000 a year with earnings higher in the Northeast, South, and Pacific regions and less in the central regions. This number can vary ALOT based on number of days worked a week, type of practice(i.e. managed care patch 'em up vs. a straight fee for service(read as non insurance participating)crown and bridge/ cosmetic practice) and hygiene volume(I can tell you that the 2 and 1/2 hygenists in my practice add over 350,000 in production yearly to my office with very reasonable fees and 1 adult patient per hour scheduling, so hygiene volume is something to consider in the equation also. Overall the range I've heard of for a general practitioner is from 50,000 to 500,000+ per year.
    As for specialties, in general you can place endodontists and orthodontists at the top of the list where yearly earnings of over 250,000 quite common on a 3 and 1/2 to 4 day work week. Starting salaries for a 1st year orthodontist or endodontist will begin roughly at 80,000 to 100,000 and head on upto roughly 150,000 depending on the geographic location and practice volume. Oral surgeons and pedodontists will be slightly less than those figures on average. Hope that helps on the $$ info.

    As for my would I do the dental thing over again and did I ever think about medicine questions. Some background, my grandfather was an OB/GYN and my grandmother was a pediatric neurologist, and I can honestly say that I never really considered becoming an M.D. I had a great general dentist growing up as a kid, whose kids I was good friends with. It dawned on me in my early teens that I wanted to become a dentist, and that was all she wrote. Did my undergrad at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Dental School at UCONN, a 2 year GPR at St Francis Hospital in Hartford, and then private practice since then. I love being a general dentist, doing what I want, interacting with all age ranges of patients. From what I also hear from my friends who are M.D.'s and all the managed care headaches that they deal with, I couldn't even imagine doing anything else. I can also add that my wife thoroughly enjoys her life as an Orthodontist and even though she had a grandfather who was a radiologist, she also never thought about getting an M.D. and wouldn't change a thing about her career path either. Hope that helps a bit :D
     
  7. Salman20001

    Salman20001 Member
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    that helped a LOT...thank you so much...I never knew dentist could potentially start from 40k...that's a little scary when you start off with a debt of 150k+...but it is refreshing to know that the salary gets to a more desired level later on...once again thank you for your input...
     
  8. Dentalski37

    Dentalski37 Junior Member
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    All I want to say is that Dr. Jeff ROCKS!!....he provides such great information all the time for us pre-dents and dents...it's greatly appreciated!

    Dentalski
     
  9. Dentalski37

    Dentalski37 Junior Member
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    One other thing,

    Dr. Jeff, how do you address the dental suicide phenomenon? There is a really good post about it in the pre-dental section under the "disturbing question" heading? What do you think of it? Just wondering.

    Dentalski
     
  10. DrJeff

    DrJeff Senior Member
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    Here's my take on this issue. First, I can see how it could happen, if you're a bit emotionally unsure of yourself, hearing multile times a week the phrase "no personal offense Doc, but I really hate the entire concept of what you do and being here" can really take its toll after a while on a few folks. Also you have to remember as a generalization most dentists are to some degree perfectionists, and when your dealing with situations where tenths of a millimeter and slight angles and contours and slight variations in colors making the difference between perfection and perfect clinical acceptability it can wear on people quite alot. Then there is the almighty patient variable, you can bust your butt for months on end to create a perfect case from start to finish and then if the patient doesn't take care of it, you can see your beautiful work fall apart infront of your because the patient doesn't do their part(ultimately they'll probably blame you for the 10 cups of coffee(extra sweet) that they drink a day, the 2 packs of regular gum, the 3 rolls of life savers, the 20 peppermint hard candies they suck a day.....all that of course didn't cause the secondary caries, it was obviously your work in the first place :D )
    When you take all that with the initial financial constraints that the pesky loans can put on us all, then it's possible to see where things can get a bit overwhelming for a select few in the profession. The way that I just deal with things starts with the patients first. Treat them while they're in the chair like you'd want yourself treated in the chair(and I'm talking about a friendly, pleasant outlook not necessarily types of procedures) and you'll start with a very happy and content family of patients, and that goes along way towards reducing stress (both yours and the patients) and helping to keep your chairs full and the loan companies(eventually your bank account) quite happpy ;)
     
  11. Hope7

    Hope7 Member
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    Dr. Jeff,
    Do orthodontist have to pay that much attention to detail, like whether their work is within a tenth of a millimeter, etc.? Does the orthodontist work require that much precision? And as far as the suicide issue do you know if there is a difference in suicide rates among general dentist, orthodontist, endodontist, etc.
     
  12. endoman

    endoman Junior Member
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    I think your numbers are a little low for endodontists right out of their residency. I have been quoted consistently a range of 250-300K right of school. Granted these numbers may be inflated. I get the general feeling that general dentists with 5-10 years of experience can expect to net in the range of 200-400K. Does anybody think these numbers are high? Also, I am talking about the higher end practices which are fee-for -service. About the suicide question, one must always remember that dentistry is not life or death, and one must remember that no matter how hard you try you will have some failures. Just try your best, and treat all of your patients like they are family. The rest(money, happiness) will take care of itself.
     
  13. DrJeff

    DrJeff Senior Member
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    The numbers that I'm getting are from real practictioners in the Northeast. The endo numbers are from 5 friends of mine that are practicing in upstate NY, CT, MA and RI. The endo earnings of a fully bought in partner (once again according to my endo friends) are more commonly in the 250,000 to 300,000 range than in the 500,000 range(they could be higher but most folks after making a quarter mil a year decide that they'd rather work less hours per week than head for the 400,000 to 500,000 range). The just out of residency endo numbers are generally about 1/2 of that for take home(the other bit will generally goto the senior partners for a buy in or just straight into their pockets if no buy in agreement is in place).

    As for the GP numbers once again for the vast majority of GP's, even 5 to 10+years out, earnings per year in the 200,000 to 250,000 are much more common than the 300,000 to 400,000 range. That info is from my Northeast network of friends(roughly 50 dentists in New England). Again, earnings could be higher, but alot of us after a while decide that we'd rather work less than make more, and once you're making comfortably into 6 figures then you'll come to realize that your free time for other interests/ family is more important to many than another 50 to 75 thousand.
     
  14. endoman

    endoman Junior Member
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    Dr. Jeff, thank you for the great information. How many days a week do most GP's work in order to net 250,000, and how realistic is it to make this kind of money. Does one need to be doing a lot of high cosmetics like veneers, procera and empress crowns, etc. The thing that scares me about private practice is not being proficient at all areas of dentistry. Generally, how many years does it take in order to "specialize your practice" and only do cosmetics or family dentistry. Finally, will I have much of an advantage starting a GP practice since I am currently completing a GPR. Thanks again for all of the great info.
     
  15. godfather

    godfather Member
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    wow you guys got it really good. I always knew dentists don't work that much but i had no idea they made that kind of money. I mean 200k averages for gp and up to 5ook for specialists and virtually no liability. ouch! i am like kicking myself in the behind because while i'm on call working another 36 hour trauma surgery shift you guys are talking about making that kind of money for 4 days of work. i'm like so jealous. But there's got to be a catch. I mean why wouldn't more people go into dentistry. also i have seen some of my dentist friends (all are gps) that started of at like 60 - 75k and stayed at like those wages for thier first 4 or 5 years.Anyways i don't know what to believe anymore when it comes to salaries but if dentists make that much for 4 days of work then all of us in med school who are taking call every 3rd day have got to be the dumbest guys in the history of the world. Anyways good luck guys.
     
  16. DrJeff

    DrJeff Senior Member
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    Endoman, first off, the GPR is a huge help, I honestly can't imagine not having done mine. As long as your attendings let you branch out and "get in over your head" from time to time, thats a huge help.
    As for how long it takes to "specialize" a general practice, thats a tough question. It could be very quick if you decide right from the start that thats how your going to run the practice and thats it. If you do it this way, expect some lean times initially, especially if its of a very different practice philosophy than the previous dentist's. If you start out doing "everything"(you'll still end up referring out the stuff that you really don't like doing, or those patients who you just frankly don't like) the practice will likely grow alot quicker and once its running at full steam, then you can scale it back and specialize it down to where you want it.
    If your really into wanting the cosmetic fee for service practice, very soon, goto one of the major esthetic continuing ed courses (Las Vegas Institute, PAC Live, etc) and subscribe to their philosophy quickly. Things will be a bit slow at the start, but you'll likely end up with the type of practice you want. Be forewarned though, some of my most and least favorite cases have been the esthetic cases, generally you'll be doing them on middle aged women who are under going a mid life crisis(men tend to want fast red sports cars and women want plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry). Some of the nit picking that they will put you through won't even begin to justify the big price tag that you'll put on the case. Typically, they'll walk out of the office after loving their temporaries, and loving things right after final cementation, and then when you see them back a few days later for the post cementation check it will start. I guarentee that you'll end up replacing a few newly cemented crowns/veneers on some of these patients simply to appease them and hopefully have them then tell their other mid life crisis friends how great you are so they'll allow you to start the process all over again. :D
    One last thing, if you want to have that high income practice, don't forget about the endo! If your doing most of your enndo, then your adding alot to your yearly production. The best investment in terms of quick return on the investment/profit levels is a rotary endo system. It pays for itself so quickly. Also when you can bill for a molar endo in 1 hour of time, a couple of those a day and your daily prodcution goals get met quite quickly!
     
  17. Salman20001

    Salman20001 Member
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    hi godfather...i am suprised that this is news to you...but dentists have known to make more than a lot of MDs considering the time input...as for the 60-75k for 5 years...that does sound highly unlikely as I don't think there is a single dentist that I know who has that salary level for 5 years, but again anything is possible...I mean you can even have MDs making net 60-70 k(based on the time a dentist puts in) for a couple of years if you factor all the costs in...as for why people don't get in, well there are two reasons-the perceived greater prestige for MDs (Seinfield's anti-dentite views sure didn't help :) )..The second reason is the fact that people just can't stand watching people's mouth the whole day....On a personal level, I couldn't care less about prestige as I don't care what people think of me and as for the looking at the mouth part...well, its just another part of the human body, just like a heart, legs etc...

    Again, this just my view and I haven't stepped into neither med or dental school yet..but will hopefully do so soon :)
     

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