babytomato

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Pre-dental student here, interested in the dentistry field but not completely sure what I want to do with my life. I'm curious as to what the practicing dentists now think about going through dental school and how it's affected their lives. Sometimes I get nervous thinking about the rigors of dental school that people talk about. Even some of the courses I'm taking now are challenging to me, but I know the courses in dental school will be much more difficult. When I shadow dentists though, I can see myself working in that setting and enjoying it. I'm wondering for those who have graduated dental school already, are you glad that you got through dental school and do you think it's worth it in the end? Do you wish you could've done something else?
 
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FanOfCostco

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I love the dentistry aspect of dentistry. I do not like the insurance part of dentistry. I think its worth it imo even with the debt. I'm not trying to live above my means or anything. I make enough to be comfortable. Maybe after my loans are paid off, I'll ball out. But right now im happy.
Not sure what i would do instead. I never really thought about anything else. feel free to pm me if u have more questions
 

ysrebob

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Yes. D school was tough but absolutely "worth it" in terms of the time and effort involved. Actually I have many good memories of my D school years: hard work but carefree vs what comes later. For most, it's the last time in your life that youre only really responsible to yourself. Don't worry about dental school. Just do your best and know that almost everyone who starts, finishes.

FWIW since you ask about "worth it," though: as has been noted by other practicing dentists on this board, I too would SERIOUSLY question whether tuition at some of the private dental schools is worth the degree. That level of student loan debt can cripple you for many years, even on a professional's income.
 
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CaliDDS1986

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Yes. D school was tough but absolutely "worth it" in terms of the time and effort involved. Actually I have many good memories of my D school years: hard work but carefree vs what comes later. For most, it's the last time in your life that youre only really responsible to yourself. Don't worry about dental school. Just do your best and know that almost everyone who starts, finishes.

FWIW since you ask about "worth it," though: as has been noted by other practicing dentists on this board, I too would SERIOUSLY question whether tuition at some of the private dental schools is worth the degree. That level of student loan debt can cripple you for many years, even on a professional's income.
If u go specialize, please specialize.
 

CaliDDS1986

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Can you elaborate on this?
GP is a grind man. I make good money as a GP, but u have to be able to do a lot. Plus, hygiene exams. Ugh hygiene exams. Albeit I've met a ton of specialists that say they wished they would have stayed a GP so the grass is always greener. Their thought is that you can expand your skillset as a GP to make more money, while they really aren't supposed to. Doing more procedures as a GP is stressful though because unless you are doing Mickey Mouse dental work you have to do it to the level of a specialist.
 

Medin2017

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GP is a grind man. I make good money as a GP, but u have to be able to do a lot. Plus, hygiene exams. Ugh hygiene exams. Albeit I've met a ton of specialists that say they wished they would have stayed a GP so the grass is always greener. Their thought is that you can expand your skillset as a GP to make more money, while they really aren't supposed to. Doing more procedures as a GP is stressful though because unless you are doing Mickey Mouse dental work you have to do it to the level of a specialist.
what specialty would you recommend in your opinion
 

TanMan

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GP is a grind man. I make good money as a GP, but u have to be able to do a lot. Plus, hygiene exams. Ugh hygiene exams. Albeit I've met a ton of specialists that say they wished they would have stayed a GP so the grass is always greener. Their thought is that you can expand your skillset as a GP to make more money, while they really aren't supposed to. Doing more procedures as a GP is stressful though because unless you are doing Mickey Mouse dental work you have to do it to the level of a specialist.
"supposed to"... GP's can do whatever they can they want as long as the work is clinically acceptable. Being a specialist doesn't make you the best at that procedure. I've seen excellent work from specialists, but I've also seen godawful work from specialists as well. When people say "... at the level of a specialist", we assume that it's at the pinnacle of the specialist's work. However, not all specialists are created equal, and there's specialists in my area that I refuse to refer to due to what I see. As a GP, we can do whatever we want, as long as it is on the level of the specialist's level of clinical acceptability. However, a GP has the flexibility to turn away time-intensive/wasting cases and refer them out. I can do the easy cases and send the rest out. Less headache, more money.
 

2TH MVR

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Look .... everything comes at a price. Can't expect to go to post undergrad school for 4 or more years and not owe something. The key is to keep that debt low. Of course it's worth it. Go look on the medical forums and you'll see that the grass isn't greener over there. Dentistry allows you to become a practice/small business owner. Most GPs I know are doing quite well ... relatively speaking. Being a dentist doesn't mean you're going to be rich. It means you'll make a better than average income. There is pride in saying you are a dentist.

The negatives is that if you practice in a saturated area: large urban, popular area, vacation area, plenty of sunshine (I practice in such an area) .... there will be more competition. You don't want competition? Prepare to be an employee .... not a small business owner.
 

coralteeth

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Pre-dental student here, interested in the dentistry field but not completely sure what I want to do with my life. I'm curious as to what the practicing dentists now think about going through dental school and how it's affected their lives. Sometimes I get nervous thinking about the rigors of dental school that people talk about. I even stress over the material my anatomy class, but I know the courses in dental school will be much more difficult. When I shadow dentists though, I can see myself working in that setting and enjoying it. I'm wondering for those who have graduated dental school already, are you glad that you got through dental school and do you think it's worth it in the end? Do you wish you could've done something else?
No it's not worth it. Find something else to do.
 

jeffk805dent

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went to UNLV for $250k (OOS student), worked for a corporate office for 2 years in CA, moved to AZ, making $250k+ for 36 hours, and finally bought a house. Yeah I would say its worth it.

Now ask me if I went to USC/NYU dental school, I'd probably have a more negative post about dentistry. Heck I didn't even like UNLV dental school and the saving grace was the cheaper cost compared to the other schools I got accepted to.
 

Symphonies

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went to UNLV for $250k (OOS student), worked for a corporate office for 2 years in CA, moved to AZ, making $250k+ for 36 hours, and finally bought a house. Yeah I would say its worth it.

Now ask me if I went to USC/NYU dental school, I'd probably have a more negative post about dentistry. Heck I didn't even like UNLV dental school and the saving grace was the cheaper cost compared to the other schools I got accepted to.
Out of curiosity, what general part of AZ if you don't mind me asking? (Phx/Tucson?)
 
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Biffster

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Having a huge amount of debt coming out of dental school or residency sucks, but paying it back is not going to be a problem for most dentists. At some point the debt burden does become prohibitively heavy, but if you can do your best to keep debt in check and you have a thoughtful plan for how you are going to earn a good living you will be OK. Personally, all of the dentists I know earn way beyond the numbers I commonly see on these boards. I'm not sure if what I am seeing amounts to a number of outliers, or if people on these board are trying to scare people. The GPs I know earn well beyond what primary care MDs earn and the specialists I know earn beyond what the vast majority of MD specialists earn.
 

FanOfCostco

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Having a huge amount of debt coming out of dental school or residency sucks, but paying it back is not going to be a problem for most dentists. At some point the debt burden does become prohibitively heavy, but if you can do your best to keep debt in check and you have a thoughtful plan for how you are going to earn a good living you will be OK. Personally, all of the dentists I know earn way beyond the numbers I commonly see on these boards. I'm not sure if what I am seeing amounts to a number of outliers, or if people on these board are trying to scare people. The GPs I know earn well beyond what primary care MDs earn and the specialists I know earn beyond what the vast majority of MD specialists earn.
This guy preaches truth!
 

Medin2017

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Having a huge amount of debt coming out of dental school or residency sucks, but paying it back is not going to be a problem for most dentists. At some point the debt burden does become prohibitively heavy, but if you can do your best to keep debt in check and you have a thoughtful plan for how you are going to earn a good living you will be OK. Personally, all of the dentists I know earn way beyond the numbers I commonly see on these boards. I'm not sure if what I am seeing amounts to a number of outliers, or if people on these board are trying to scare people. The GPs I know earn well beyond what primary care MDs earn and the specialists I know earn beyond what the vast majority of MD specialists earn.
What specialties? And are you a dentist?

went to UNLV for $250k (OOS student), worked for a corporate office for 2 years in CA, moved to AZ, making $250k+ for 36 hours, and finally bought a house. Yeah I would say its worth it.

Now ask me if I went to USC/NYU dental school, I'd probably have a more negative post about dentistry. Heck I didn't even like UNLV dental school and the saving grace was the cheaper cost compared to the other schools I got accepted to.
would you say you are doing much better than the average or compared to peers you know of anyway?
 

PreDentTechySon

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went to UNLV for $250k (OOS student), worked for a corporate office for 2 years in CA, moved to AZ, making $250k+ for 36 hours, and finally bought a house. Yeah I would say its worth it.

Now ask me if I went to USC/NYU dental school, I'd probably have a more negative post about dentistry. Heck I didn't even like UNLV dental school and the saving grace was the cheaper cost compared to the other schools I got accepted to.
Are you a practice owner now?
 

cacajuate

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I have been looking at finances of quite a few practices recently, and the range for practice owners I have seen is $240k-$700k. All have been GPs. I'd take out $300k in school debt to have a chance at the range on income for 20+ years.


Sad part is when I saw associate compensation at a couple practices, they are in the $90k-$130k range. Not making the additional income from the business puts a serious damper on your income ability.
 
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Steins;Gate

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I have been looking at finances of quite a few practices recently, and the range for practice owners I have seen is $240k-$700k. All have been GPs. I'd take out $300k in school debt to have a chance at the range on income for 20+ years.


Sad part is when I saw associate compensation at a couple practices, they are in the $90k-$130k range. Not making the additional income from the business puts a serious damper on your income ability.
How many hours/week do the owners work versus associates you have seen?
 
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cacajuate

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How many hours/week do the owners work versus associates you have seen?

It was rare for an owner working more than 4 days. Few were only doing clinical work for 3 days. Associates 4-5 days.
 

schmoob

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I have been looking at finances of quite a few practices recently, and the range for practice owners I have seen is $240k-$700k. All have been GPs. I'd take out $300k in school debt to have a chance at the range on income for 20+ years.


Sad part is when I saw associate compensation at a couple practices, they are in the $90k-$130k range. Not making the additional income from the business puts a serious damper on your income ability.
Are you talking net income, or gross revenue? That's good money for (I'm assuming) San Antonio. You can't throw a rock in that city without hitting a dental office! :heckyeah:
 

cacajuate

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Are you talking net income, or gross revenue? That's good money for (I'm assuming) San Antonio. You can't throw a rock in that city without hitting a dental office! :heckyeah:

Net income, obviously pretax. None were in SA. Most were Dallas/Houstoun but they haven't been limited to TX. Honestly, $300-350k income is pretty damn typical for a well ran decent sized practice.


Haven't been looking at practices under $600k collections, practices of that size will definitely starting seeing more with <$200k income.
 
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InformMe123

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went to UNLV for $250k (OOS student), worked for a corporate office for 2 years in CA, moved to AZ, making $250k+ for 36 hours, and finally bought a house. Yeah I would say its worth it.

Now ask me if I went to USC/NYU dental school, I'd probably have a more negative post about dentistry. Heck I didn't even like UNLV dental school and the saving grace was the cheaper cost compared to the other schools I got accepted to.
is the $250k+ salary from owning or corporate or associating?
 
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UpperBite

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It is the best job in the world (for me). I am in my first year of practice and couldn't be happier with my choice. If it is for you, you will feel the same. The pre-dental courses and getting in sucked. I felt that was harder than dental school itself. Because I did not enjoy the pre-reqs, yet they were necessary to take, and you needed great grades.
 
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babytomato

babytomato

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It is the best job in the world (for me). I am in my first year of practice and couldn't be happier with my choice. If it is for you, you will feel the same. The pre-dental courses and getting in sucked. I felt that was harder than dental school itself. Because I did not enjoy the pre-reqs, yet they were necessary to take, and you needed great grades.
It's always nice to hear someone say they're happy with their career choice! What did you not enjoy about your pre-reqs?
I imagine the courses in dental school to be more stressful because they go more in-depth.
 

UpperBite

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I hated math science courses, physics, organic. I liked biology. But none of them were what I wanted to do. Dental school wasn't hard for me in an understanding sense, it was challenging time wise and workload wise. But in undergrad I struggled with the content. Not in dental school, because it was what I wanted to do. I also was a hygienist so that helped.
 

cacajuate

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How did you come up with this figure?
Average practice size of $750k and a decently ran practice has ~60% overhead, comes out to $300k.

There is a bunch of practices with overhead in the 48-52% overhead range. That's when dentists really start making good money. All of these dentists keep their staff overhead right around the 20% mark, thats the most important factor.
 
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Steins;Gate

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Average practice size of $750k and a decently ran practice has ~60% overhead, comes out to $300k.

There is a bunch of practices with overhead in the 48-52% overhead range. That's when dentists really start making good money. All of these dentists keep their staff overhead right around the 20% mark, thats the most important factor.
Makes sense. At what production level have you seen these 50% OH practices?
 
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babytomato

babytomato

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Interesting how a question about worth became a conversation about salary! I'd say money is related to worth but it isn't the only thing that determines it. Just asserting my opinion, not trying to contradict anyone.
 
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schmoob

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Interesting how a question about worth became a conversation about salary! I'd say money is related to worth but it isn't the only thing that determines it. Just asserting my opinion, not trying to contradict anyone.
Worth is subjective.
Many people get into the field because of what it has to offer. But for some, the entry barriers, cost, ROI, and the daily grind is what make it not worth it anymore.

Many experienced dentists with no student loan burden, practice debt, and grown kids (this is a big one) can choose how they practice and have lots of freedom. Life is good.

The newer generation of dentists who choose to purchase may now have combined loans of > $1M, plus the time and financial demands of a family (kids, mortgage, etc). It's these dentists who may have to work faster, treat more aggressively, refer less, etc. They need to pay the bills, so they may not have the option of doing the dentistry they enjoy. So for them, it might not be worth it.

I see you mentioned that you've shadowed before, that's great. I encourage you to continue shadowing, and try finding dentists at different points in their careers.
-The older, experienced ones who actually have a positive net worth.
-The absolute brand new grad who is loving life because they don't need faculty to approve every step.
-The relatively new grads who are just trying to pay the bills.

Those are just a few examples. But these are things to consider when you make this decision.
 

Steins;Gate

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Worth is subjective.
Many people get into the field because of what it has to offer. But for some, the entry barriers, cost, ROI, and the daily grind is what make it not worth it anymore.

Many experienced dentists with no student loan burden, practice debt, and grown kids (this is a big one) can choose how they practice and have lots of freedom. Life is good.

The newer generation of dentists who choose to purchase may now have combined loans of > $1M, plus the time and financial demands of a family (kids, mortgage, etc). It's these dentists who may have to work faster, treat more aggressively, refer less, etc. They need to pay the bills, so they may not have the option of doing the dentistry they enjoy. So for them, it might not be worth it.

I see you mentioned that you've shadowed before, that's great. I encourage you to continue shadowing, and try finding dentists at different points in their careers.
-The older, experienced ones who actually have a positive net worth.
-The absolute brand new grad who is loving life because they don't need faculty to approve every step.
-The relatively new grads who are just trying to pay the bills.

Those are just a few examples. But these are things to consider when you make this decision.
I'd add:
- New practice owner
- Those in their prime working years
- Those slowing down
 
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babytomato

babytomato

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2TH MVR

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Average practice size of $750k and a decently ran practice has ~60% overhead, comes out to $300k.

There is a bunch of practices with overhead in the 48-52% overhead range. That's when dentists really start making good money. All of these dentists keep their staff overhead right around the 20% mark, thats the most important factor.

Very true. Over head is the big monster. Everything is relative. You can have the huge practice with production well into the millions with a huge staff and all the toys: CBCT, CAD-CAM, digital impressions, huge facility, large staff, associates, etc. etc with 70-75% overhead making no more money NET than the small sole practitioner, small staff, less toys with OH in the lower 40%.

You only take home what is left over. ;)
 
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Sep 28, 2017
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OP, you have seen a lot of comments talking about ownership and how profitable it can be. Dental school will teach a tiny bit about ownership or straight up 0. I personally want to get into ownership as soon as I can after graduation. I would recommend listening to pod casts and reading books relating to the subject of practice management, ownership, acquisition, valuation etc.. Dentalpreneur podcast, SharedPractices Podcast, Dentist Money podcast, E-Myth Revisited, Everything is Marketing, just to name a few
 
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Kurk

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I once asked a D2 (attending a private school) if their school's ranking justified not attending a public school instead. They told me, "it doesn't really matter when you're making $40,000 a month in the end". I shut-up after that.
 
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babytomato

babytomato

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Jun 12, 2016
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Very true. Over head is the big monster. Everything is relative. You can have the huge practice with production well into the millions with a huge staff and all the toys: CBCT, CAD-CAM, digital impressions, huge facility, large staff, associates, etc. etc with 70-75% overhead making no more money NET than the small sole practitioner, small staff, less toys with OH in the lower 40%.

You only take home what is left over. ;)
OP, you have seen a lot of comments talking about ownership and how profitable it can be. Dental school will teach a tiny bit about ownership or straight up 0. I personally want to get into ownership as soon as I can after graduation. I would recommend listening to pod casts and reading books relating to the subject of practice management, ownership, acquisition, valuation etc.. Dentalpreneur podcast, SharedPractices Podcast, Dentist Money podcast, E-Myth Revisited, Everything is Marketing, just to name a few
I've never heard of these podcasts before. That'll definately be helpful because I'm not familiar with the business side of dentistry. Thank you!
 
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babytomato

babytomato

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I once asked a D2 (attending a private school) if their school's ranking justified not attending a public school instead. They told me, "it doesn't really matter when you're making $40,000 a month in the end". I shut-up after that.
What do you mean by 'if their school's ranking justified not attending a public school'?
 

Steins;Gate

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I once asked a D2 (attending a private school) if their school's ranking justified not attending a public school instead. They told me, "it doesn't really matter when you're making $40,000 a month in the end". I shut-up after that.
So in the end, we make $480,000 a year...?
 
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