Dentists play significant roles in the preservation and protection of our oral health. The demand for dental services is on the rise as the population ages and more research studies reveal the correlation between oral health and overall health. Becoming a dentist requires substantial training, including an undergraduate degree, and four years of dental school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of dentists is projected to grow by 7% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Due to the growth in demand for dentists, there are a variety of locations where they can practice, but where are the best opportunities for dentists?
Our study at AdvisorSmith ranked 258 metropolitan areas, which we term cities, across the United States to identify the most advantageous cities for dentists to pursue their careers in. We determined the top 50 cities for dentists and also identified the top small, midsize, and large cities for dentists. This study used data from the U.S. Census Bureau for General Dentists which provides information about dental salaries and the concentration of dental jobs in each city. We also considered the cost of living in each city using AdvisorSmith’s City Cost of Living Index.
Our analysis reveals that most of the best cities for dentists are small and midsize cities. These cities feature lower costs of living, while still providing comparable or even higher than average salaries in some cases. Cities with populations under 500,000 people dominated the study as nine of the top 10 cities are small or midsize cities. In addition, 36 of the top 50 cities are small or midsize U.S. cities. In the United States, there are 110,730 jobs for General Dentists in the dental industry, and the nationwide average yearly salary for dentists is $178,260.
Top Cities for Dentists by City Size
Thirty-six of the top 50 best cities for dentists were small or midsize cities. Different people have various preferences for living environments so our study broke down the cities into different sizes based on population. In the table below, we list the top 10 small (population under 150,000), midsize (population of 150,000-500,000), and large (greater than 500,000 population) cities for dentists.
Best Cities for Dentists
1. Burlington, VT
Burlington is the top city in our study and is the top midsize city. The city is located in northwestern Vermont, along the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. Burlington is the most populous city in the state of Vermont and is a college town due to the proximity of the University of Vermont and Champlain College. The city is home to Vermont’s largest medical center, the University of Vermont Medical Center. Burlington’s economy revolves around education, health services, trade, transportation, and utilities. One of the largest employers in the city is the University of Vermont Medical Center, which provides dentists the perfect environment to flourish.
Dentists in Burlington made an average salary of $275,430, and the cost of living is 6.9% percent below the national average. In addition, there are 2.75 times as many dentists in the area compared to the national average, which provides dentists a welcoming community of professionals in their own industry to interact with.
2. Flint, MI
Flint is one of the top midsize cities in our study and is located northwest of Detroit, Michigan. From the late 19th century to the mid 20th century, Flint became a powerhouse in the automobile industry, being home to companies such as General Motors, which was founded in the city in 1908. Flint hosts two major medical centers: Hurley Medical Center and McLaren Regional Medical Center.
The average salary for dentists in Flint, Michigan is $229,470, and the cost of living is 13.7% below the national average, which indicates the economic benefit for dentists in the area. Professional opportunities for dentists are plentiful in the city as there are 1.77 times as many dentists in the area compared to the national average.
3. Dalton, GA
Dalton is the top small city in our study and is located in Northwest Georgia. The city is referred to as the carpet capital in the world due to the sheer amount of floor-covering manufacturers in the area. In 2011, carpet mills began cutting back productivity and closed facilities, which caused Dalton to diversify its economic sectors. Although factory jobs still play a significant role in Dalton’s economy, the health care industry has become a large employer in the city. Dental clinics populate the city and the Hamilton Health Care System is a key employer in the area.
Salaries for dentists in Dalton average $238,490, and the cost of living is 10.3% below the national average. Networking opportunities within dentistry are also available in Dalton as there are 1.43 times as many dentists in Dalton, Georgia compared to the national average.
4. Rockford, IL
Located on the banks of the Rock River in northern Illinois, Rockford is a midsize city in Winnebago County. Due to the city’s position along the Rock River, Rockford became a center for industrial development. In the 19th and 20th century, the city became known for its output of heavy machinery, hardware, tools, and furniture. Rockford experienced industrial decline in the latter half of the 20th century, but in the late 1990s, economic diversification led to the growth of automotive, aerospace, and health care industries. The largest employers in Rockford include Mercy Health, Swedish American Health System, and OSF HealthCare.
Dentists in Rockford earned an average salary of $235,480, and the cost of living is 11.1% below the national average. There is also a large dentist community present in the city as there are 1.32 times as many dentists in Rockford, Illinois compared to the national average.
5. Kalamazoo, MI
Kalamazoo is a city in the southwestern region of Michigan. Kalamazoo was once known as the “Paper City” due to the abundant number of paper mills in the city during the late 1960s. As employment opportunities in paper mills decreased due to the closing of these facilities, the area’s economy diversified into various sectors of business: life sciences, health care, manufacturing, breweries, and industrial design. Kalamazoo is home to Western Michigan University’s Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine and a variety of hospitals such as the Bronson Medical Center. The city’s strong background in health care provides dentists with a supportive environment to practice their profession.
Opportunities for dentists are plentiful in Kalamazoo as there are 1.63 times as many dentists in the area compared to the national average. The city’s cost of living is also 10.9% below the national average, which benefits dentists as they earned an average salary of $211,460.
Top 50 Cities for Dentists
The top 50 cities for dentists are listed below. In the table, average annual salaries, number of dental jobs per capita, cost of living index, and the total number of jobs for dentists are listed.
|Rank||City||City Size||Average Annual Salary||Total Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living|
|6||Battle Creek, MI||Small||$229,350||40||1.07||86|
|10||Des Moines, IA||Large||$219,170||390||1.4||93|
|13||Carson City, NV||Small||$204,580||40||1.99||105|
|18||Eau Claire, WI||Midsize||$194,060||100||1.54||92|
|20||The Villages, FL||Small||$173,760||50||2.17||102|
|24||Rocky Mount, NC||Small||$147,040||90||2.17||90|
|25||Grand Forks, ND||Small||$208,570||40||1.12||93|
|26||St. Joseph, MO||Small||$190,590||50||1.2||87|
|31||Homosassa Springs, FL||Small||$197,940||30||1.34||96|
|37||Rapid City, SD||Small||$191,000||70||1.41||96|
|40||South Bend, IN||Midsize||$190,930||110||1.06||88|
|41||Panama City, FL||Midsize||$210,060||70||1.26||103|
|43||Boise City, ID||Large||$216,710||260||1.02||100|
|49||Little Rock, AR||Large||$180,700||310||1.18||89|
AdvisorSmith’s analysis includes various components in determining the best cities for dentists to practice their profession. This study was based upon data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics data. The data was examined at the metropolitan statistical area level (MSA) level, which we call “cities.” We used MSA-level data because dentists often commute to work from a different part of the metropolitan area than where they live, so using MSA-level data captures the economic integration of neighboring cities in a region.
1. Cost of living index for each city
In our analysis, we adjusted the salaries earned by dentists in each city by a cost of living index. Cities that were ranked more highly in this analysis were those that had a lower cost of living. The cost of living was based on AdvisorSmith’s City Cost of Living Index, which measures numerous factors such as the cost of housing, transportation, food, health care, and other factors at the MSA level, which impact the amount of purchasing power that a dentist has.
2. Average annual salaries for dentists
The study utilized average annual salaries that dentists earn in each city. Cities that offered higher salaries were ranked higher in our analysis. The median pay for dentists in 2019 is $159,200.
3. Density of jobs for dentists in each city
In our study, we examined the location quotient, which represents the number of jobs available to dentists, relative to the national average. Cities with a higher location quotient have a higher concentration of jobs for dentists, which means more career opportunities and more demand for dentists in those cities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 110,730 dentists employed in 2018. Also, they predict that the overall employment of dentists is projected to grow from 7% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.
1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
3. AdvisorSmith City Cost of Living Index