7 of the Highest-Paid Dental Specialties in 2024

A patient receiving dental treatment from a dentist in a clinic, with a dental assistant in the background.

Inspiring healthy smiles isn’t just a passion—it’s a lucrative profession. An average dentist’s salary in the United States falls between $135,000 and $215,000. General dentistry is an excellent option for healthcare professionals. However, a dental specialist can earn anywhere from 20% to 105% more than general dentists. 

In this article, you’ll learn the seven highest-paid dental specialties. You’ll also find their average salaries and the states where they earn the most. For each specialist, you’ll also find their career type. As you consider your career options and plan your dental career path, think about these specialties. They are meaningful and lucrative job opportunities. 

A patient receiving dental treatment from a dentist in a clinic, with a dental assistant in the background.

#1 Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Average Annual Salary: $267,000 to $440,000

Highest Paying States: Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado 

The highest-paying dental specialty is oral and maxillofacial surgery. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat several oral conditions. Some common conditions they handle include TMJ and jaw misalignment, extreme gum and teeth decay, cleft palates, cleft lips, and wisdom tooth extractions. They can also treat oral cancers, dental infections, fractures, and salivary gland diseases. 

To become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon takes four years of undergraduate study. It also takes four years of dental school and four to six years of residency training. State licensure is also required to practice oral and maxillofacial surgery. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons address intense oral-related concerns. These dental professionals must obtain a medical degree in addition to specialized dental training. Committing to extensive education can be daunting. However, it pays off when a professional enters the highest-paid specialty in dentistry. 

#2 Dental Anesthesiologists

Average Annual Salary: $256,000 to $460,000

Highest Paying States: Washington, Massachusetts, Colorado 

Approximately 20 to 36% of the population experiences dental fear. Most of that fear is centered around pain, traumatic past experiences, and general medical anxiety. Dental anesthesiologists use general anesthesia and advanced sedation to reduce patients’ unpleasant experiences. This makes it easier for patients to undergo routine dental procedures. It also makes it easier for patients to undergo more invasive dental procedures. 

Becoming a dental anesthesiologist takes four years of undergraduate study. It also requires four years of dental school and three years of residency. State licensure is also required to practice dental anesthesiology.

#3 Orthodontists

Average Annual Salary: $175,000 to $357,000

Highest Paying States: Oregon, Alaska, North Dakota

An orthodontist is a dental specialist. They focus on diagnosing, preventing, and correcting misaligned teeth, jaws, and oral structures. Orthodontists improve bite functionality through braces, aligners, and other devices by addressing overcrowding and gaps. Straighter teeth can increase patients’ self-esteem and comfort with their appearance. An orthodontist’s work is personal, aesthetic, and functional. 

To become an orthodontist, you need four years of undergraduate study. After that, you must complete four years of dental school. Finally, you need to spend two to three years in residency. State licensure is also required to practice orthodontics.

#4 Prosthodontists 

Average Annual Salary: $146,000 to $355,000

Highest Paying States: Alaska, Oregon, Massachusetts

Crowns, bridges, dentures, and dental implants are the dental prosthetic work of prosthodontists. Prosthodontists often engage in detailed lab work. They use various dental materials and techniques to create lasting restorations. These highly-paid dental specialists restore and replace missing teeth. Prosthodontists use various dental materials and techniques to create durable restorations. The restorations can help with speech issues and a patient’s ability to chew. Their work produces an aesthetic and functional result from one tooth to an entire smile. 

It takes a minimum of eleven years to become a prothodontist. This includes four years of undergraduate study, four years of dental school, and three years of residency. State licensure is also required to practice orthodontics.

#5 Endodontists

Average Annual Salary: $162,000 to $286,000

Highest Paying States: New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire

Endodontists are most well-known for performing root canals, but their work extends beyond these procedures. They can treat a range of conditions that affect the dental pulp or roots of the teeth. Endodontists have the precise skills to navigate dental trauma, cracked teeth, and infected or damaged pulp. Their work aims to preserve natural teeth, promoting overall oral health. The work of an endodontist is crucial in preserving natural teeth. It contributes to overall health.

Becoming an endodontist takes four years of undergraduate study, four years of dental school, and a minimum of two years of residency. State licensure is also required to practice orthodontics.

#6 Pediatric Dentists (Pedodontists)

Average Annual Salary: $193,000 to $294,000

Highest Paying States: New Jersey, Wyoming, Wisconsin

Dental specialists who enjoy working with children might consider a career in pediatric dentistry. Growing children have unique oral health needs. These professionals know how to provide comprehensive patient care that will grow alongside them. These highly-paid dental specialists must have an eye for detail. Their patients require early detection and treatment of cavities and other dental issues. Pediatric dentists should foster a warm and welcoming environment in their office. They should have a lot of patience. They should be confident in creating positive experiences for their young patients. 

It takes four years of undergraduate study, four years of dental school, and two years of residency to become a pediatric dentist. State licensure is also required to practice pediatric dentistry.

#7 Periodontists 

Average Annual Salary: $119,000 to $259,000

Highest Paying States: Oregon, Alaska, North Dakota

Periodontists address issues in the periodontium. They also address issues related to the teeth’s supporting structures. Examples include the gums, jawbone, and face. Gingivitis and periodontitis are two of the most common conditions periodontists treat. They can use procedures like scaling and root planing to treat inflammation and infection. They can also treat gum diseases and place dental implants to treat these conditions. Preventative education is an integral part of a periodontist’s job as well. 

It takes four years of undergraduate study, four years of dental school, and two years of residency to become a periodontist. State licensure is also required to practice periodontics.

Highest-Paid Dental Professionals FAQ

How should I choose a dental specialty?

Consider the states that you’re willing to live in or move to. Then, find the highest-paying dental specialties available in those states. From there, determine how much and what types of education you are willing to invest in. Your own personal interests should also be considered in choosing your specialty. For instance, if you don’t have patience with nervous or emotional children, pediatric dentistry shouldn’t be your career path. 

Which states are the best for dental specialists?

Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Massachusetts, and North Dakota are the five states that come up most frequently as the highest-paid states for dental specialists. Click on any state names under a specialty in the above article. See where your state ranks for the specialty you’re interested in!

How can I find job opportunities for high-paying dental specialist roles?

A recruiting partner like Prodent is a great place to start your search for a high-paying dental specialist role. Join our career portal to enhance your career path and enrich your employment opportunities. 

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