What is the Average Dentist Salary for 2020? Full Breakdown by State and Specialty

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Dental school can be shockingly expensive. The American Dental Education Association reported that dental school graduates in the Class of 2019 left school with $292,169 in student loan debt, on average.

However, it’s not all bad news. As a dental school graduate, you have a higher earning potential than the average person, making you an excellent candidate for student loan refinancing.

Refinancing can allow you to qualify for a lower interest rate, save money, and pay off your student debt faster.

But what is the average dentist salary? Here is a breakdown of dentist salaries by state and dentist salaries by specialty.

Average 2020 dentist salaries by state

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average salary for dentists is $178,260. However, how much you can earn is dependent on where you live.

StateAverage Annual Wage
Alabama$157,040
Alaska$239,930
Arizona$192,570
Arkansas$168,420
California$155,670
Colorado$169,070
Connecticut$192,540
DelawareData not released
District of Columbia$167,900
Florida$173,630
Georgia$187,640
Hawaii$182,210
Idaho$204,060
Illinois$189,170
Indiana$178,750
Iowa$187,570
Kansas$184,070
Kentucky$129,310
Louisiana$155,350
Maine$220,400
Maryland$159,130
Massachusetts$192,860
Michigan$216,310
Minnesota$213,210
Mississippi$153,220
Missouri$169,360
Montana$150,170
Nebraska$138,250
Nevada$204,240
New Hampshire$215,600
New Jersey$189,460
New Mexico$182,420
New York$167,090
North Carolina$191,920
North Dakota$225,770
Ohio$195,460
Oklahoma$173,860
Oregon$201,680
Pennsylvania$164,760
Puerto Rico$74,900
Rhode Island$262,900
South Carolina$177,480
South Dakota$185,350
Tennessee$173,360
Texas$183,510
Utah$134,730
Vermont$261,790
Virginia$187,150
Washington$185,240
West Virginia$126,880
Wisconsin$207,350
Wyoming$127,990

Average 2020 dentist salaries by specialty

While dental specialists require additional education, you can also command higher wages. Below are the average salaries for dentists by specialty, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OccupationNational Average Wage
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons$237,570
Orthodontists$230,830
Prosthodontists$220,840
Other specialties$178,040

Why dentists are good candidates for student loan refinancing

Student loan refinancing can be an effective way to pay off your debt more quickly. With the average dentist’s salary and good credit — or a creditworthy cosigner — you may qualify for a lower interest rate. Over time, you can save a substantial amount of money and pay your loans off years ahead of schedule.

As a dentist, you’re a prime candidate for student loan refinancing for the following reasons.

1. You likely have high-interest loans

Not only do dental school students have to take on six-figures of student loan debt, but they also have to pay high interest rates. Graduate and professional degree student loans tend to have higher interest rates than undergraduate student loans, causing your balance to grow more quickly.

For example, federal Grad PLUS Loans disbursed between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, had an interest rate of 7.08%, while Direct Unsubsidized Loans for undergraduate students disbursed during that same period had a rate of just 4.53%.

With a lower rate, you could be debt-free sooner, and your savings could be significant. How significant? Let’s look at an example.

If you had $292,169 in student loan debt from dental school at 7% interest and a 20-year repayment term — common for graduate and professional degree loans — your monthly payment would be $2,265 per month. At the end of your repayment period, you will repay $543,644; you’d pay $251,475 in interest charges alone.

However, if you refinanced your debt, you could qualify for a 15-year loan at just 5.5% interest. Over your repayment period, you’d pay a total of $429,708 and you’d pay just $137,539 in interest charges.

By refinancing your loans, you’d pay off your education debt five years earlier, and you’d save a whopping $113,936.

 Original LoanRefinanced Loan
Starting Loan Balance$292,169$292,169
Interest Rate7%5.5%
Loan Term20 Years15 Years
Minimum Monthly Payment$2,265$2,387
Total Interest Paid$251,475$137,539
Total Repaid$543,644$429,708

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2. You earn a higher than average income

While you may feel overwhelmed by your debt, be aware that you earn a much higher income than the typical person, so you’re better equipped to handle the debt. The national average wage is only $53,490, so the average dentist’s salary is more than three times the average annual wage for all occupations.

With such a high income, your debt-to-income ratio will be manageable, and you’re more likely to get approved for student loan refinancing and secure a competitive interest rate.

3. You probably aren’t pursuing loan forgiveness

When you refinance federal student loans, you lose eligibility for federal benefits like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). However, most dentists aren’t eligible for loan forgiveness anyway. That’s because dentists overwhelmingly work for themselves or private practices rather than for non-profit dental clinics or government agencies. According to the American Dental Association, 80% of dentists have their own practice.

Since you won’t qualify for PSLF, you don’t have to worry about refinancing hurting your loan forgiveness eligibility.

Comparing student loan refinancing rates

As a dentist, it’s common to leave dental school with over $200,000 in student loan debt. While that’s a substantial burden, the average dentist salary is high, and student loan refinancing can reduce your interest rates to make your debt more manageable. If you decide to refinance your loans, make sure you get quotes from multiple lenders to get the best rates. You can use Purefy’s Compare Rates tool to get quotes from top student loan refinancing lenders within minutes, without affecting your credit score.