A puzzle-piece map of the US with caption that reads "Which are the best states for dentists?"

Which are the Best States for Dentists?

Imagine: you work your way through school, spend countless hours fueled by caffeine, and wander from class to class, exhausted. You spend hours face-down in a book, inching your way towards each exam.

Then, finally, you graduate – and it’s all worth it. The tests are done, the books returned to the library, and your future is wide open.

So, now what? How do you start? Where do you go next?

It’s a common problem for many graduates, and you might find yourself wondering these same questions. You spend so much energy just getting through your academic journey that once you’re done, you’re not sure what to do next.

In a study of 752 young adults aged 24-27, only 35% reported jumping into their career immediately after graduation. 32% took their time trying to figure out where to start, while the remaining 33% required several years to find their footing. 

Whether you’re a recent grad looking for a place to start, an established dentist hoping to begin your own practice, or just looking for a fresh start in a new location, you need a place to begin your journey.

So, in no particular order let’s look at five of the best states for dentists worth your consideration.

1. Montana

While it may be a common stereotype, it certainly holds true: financial factors play a major role for recent graduates.

Education isn’t cheap, and once you graduate, you’ll probably need to start paying off some loans.

This can be a huge concern for someone also looking to put money into starting their own dental practice.

So, when looking at the best states for dentists, it’s only natural to look at financial situations.

And, that’s exactly what lands Montana on the list.

Montana has the ninth-lowest living cost in the United States. It has low housing costs, and no sales tax.

Montana is also fairly generous for people willing to make a difference.

The Montana State Loan Repayment Program offers $15,000 per year in loan repayment to people working in high-need areas, such as National Health Service Corps sites in Health Professional Shortage areas.

Though the program often requires a two-to-four-year commitment, it allows dentists a chance to gather experience and discover what it’s like to make a change in communities in need. 

2. Nevada

While the image of bright lights and flashing slot machines of a Las Vegas casino might not paint the best picture for those in tight financial situations, the tax rates and dental pay say otherwise. 

For instance, if you’re looking to start your own dental practice, you’ll be relieved to hear there is no state or corporate tax in Nevada. 

That said, one downfall to working in Nevada is the higher cost of living compared to somewhere like Montana. The state tries its best to make up for it, though.

For instance, dentists who work in Nevada make an average of $211K per year.

Similar to Montana, Nevada also offers various loan repayment programs. For example, people who work with the Nevada Health Service Corps receive eligibility for such forgiveness.

3. South Dakota

While dentists in South Dakota make a bit less than those who work in Montana, the average salary is still a respectable $187,850.

The state is also forgiving on taxes, but beats Nevada with a lower cost of living. In fact, the state sits at the seventh-lowest spot in terms of the United States’ cost of living.

And, South Dakota also provides programs to help new dentists. 

One example is the Rural Assistance Program.

The money given by the state can vary with this program. Qualified dentists are asked to work in high-need communities. The idea of this program is, the smaller the community, the higher the pay from the state. Though dentists must work in this program for three years, the program can pay up to $252,902 per dentist. 

Another available program is the Delta Dental Loan Repayment Program. This program focuses on dentists treating Medicaid-insured patients, and offers $75,000 – $125,000. The more patients you treat who meet the program’s criteria, the more money offers you.

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Related: What to Consider When Starting Your Own Dental Practice
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4. New Hampshire

Though smaller than others, New Hampshire remains one of the best states for dentists nonetheless.

Many dentists find a great salary here, with even new dentists holding the potential to make around $190K per year. The average pay for dentists in New Hampshire is $222,430. The state also does not have sales taxes. 

Like the states above, New Hampshire offers its share of dental repayment programs.

For instance, you can participate in New Hampshire’s Private Practice Dentists State Loan Repayment Program. In this program, dentists agree to a three-year contract requiring at least 15% of their patients consist of Medicaid patients. This program offers up to $75,000 of repayment.

5. Alaska

If you have a sense of adventure, love nature, can stomach drastic weather, and want to earn the third-highest dental salary in the country, Alaska might be calling your name.

Here, the average salary for a dentist in hovers around $242K per year. Even better, it doesn’t have an income tax, and the sales tax rate is only 1.6%. 

Alaska also has options for loan repayments. Namely they consist of SHARP-1 and SHARP-3.

SHARP-1 requires participants to work in an area with low access to healthcare professionals and a two-year commitment.

SHARP-3 requires three years of service, and allows the participant to pick between educational payments or direct incentives. It is more widely available in the state than SHARP-1.

So, cold weather aside, Alaska absolutely ranks among the best states for dentists.

Choosing among the best states for dentists

Ultimately, any of the above are great choices, with each one providing significant benefits. And, there exists no clear winner, because every person has different desires and different needs.

Just because the salary is higher in one state doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you.

Consider this list of states as a guide. What do you like about the states listed? What do you dislike? After that, you begin looking for states that better match what your heart wants.

Keep researching and try to find a place to get started. The sooner you can find a place to plant your feet, the easier it is to walk your own path of success.


About First Choice Dental Lab

First Choice Dental Lab is a full-service dental lab with locations in Downers Grove, Il. & Wauwatosa, Wi.

We manufacture & customize quality dental restorations for general dentists. We create smiles based on your needs and budget.

We’re here to help you give your patients a reason to smile!

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