How Much Do Dentist’s Earn? (And Why?)

Oh dear, this might be one of those “Elephant In The Room” type articles. Still, I bet you’ll read it!  Although there is often a lot of speculation by both dentists and the media about how much their colleagues/dentists gross and how much they earn (often mixed up by the media!) there is surprisingly little in the way of accurate information available. Try Googling, “How Much Do Dentists Earn” and you’ll find lots of misinformation.

Maybe, I’m the only person who truly knows the answer to this (worrying signs of paranoia setting in!). Anyway, I have no reason to hide this information from you and I just know you’ll be interested in the numbers. (If there is no ezine from me in 2 weeks time you’ll know that the dental mafia has been around and silenced me for breaking the silence on this one…).

So let’s start where any conversation on dentist’s earnings must start, “How much do dentists gross?” I am consistently surprised at the variation in gross that dentists achieve in practice, given that they start on a level playing field with a BDS. Despite what you hear at the Conference bar, here are some real figures.  Let me give you either end of the spectrum, during 2011, I met 3 dentists who gross personally between 800,000 and 1 million pounds/year and 3 dentists who gross less than (full time equivalent) £100k/year. That’s a ten-fold difference between the two groups.

What’s the difference between these two groups?

The Million Pound Gross’ers are:
1. Highly skilled clinicians.
2. Providing Implants.
3. Providing Orthodontics both privately and on The NHS.
4. Providing other forms of high value dentistry including such treatments as:

  • Full mouth Rehabilitations
  • Smile Makeovers
  • Invisalign and similar treatments
  • Facial Aesthetics
  • Cerec Restorations
  • “All on Four”

5. Highly organised in the way they book their clinical time.
6. Often working less hours than the 100k gross’ers.
7. Great at communicating with patients about their dental needs.

The 100k Gross’ers are:
1. Not very skilled clinicians, or have not found a practice where they can use their skills.
2. Busy, doing a lot of check-ups.
3. Providing single unit, simple restorative dentistry.
4. Starting late and going home early.
5. Giving a lot of dentistry away.
6. Have their clinical time booked randomly by their receptionists.
7. Poor at communicating with their patients about their dental needs.

These are the ends of the spectrum. Most dentists gross between £700 and £1100/day and so if they work 4.5 days a week, 46 weeks a year, they gross between £145k/year, (£12,075/month) and £227k/year, (£18,975/month.) I am not making any distinction between Private and NHS Dentists.

Associates Earn: If they are on a 45% contract, then with a £145k – £227k annual gross, after laboratory bills, they will earn £58k-90k/year.

Practice Owners Earn: The range is terrific, In 2011 I met a practice owner who was earning 23k/year (and happy) and a practice owner who was earning 535k/year (and very stressed!). I suppose a more usual range of practice profits varies between a range of, £80k/year – £200k/year with an average amongst our current client base of circa £135k/year.

We are seeing a level or downward trend in gross fees earned these last 12 months (with exceptions) and an increase in practice costs. This means that the Practice Owners earnings have probably fallen more than their Associate’s earnings pro-rata, because the practice owners are slow and poor at passing on increased costs (such as materials increases and CQC Compliance) to their Associates.
Another variable that makes a big difference to the cash in the dentist’s pocket, is the amount of tax payable on their earnings. As sole traders, Dentists will be paying somewhere between 35% and 50% of their earnings to the tax man. A few dentists are looking at Tax Planning much more proactively and this process usually starts with creating a limited company.

If you would like some help with:
1. Increasing your gross fees earned
2. Increasing your earnings
3. Paying less tax

Please contact me directly on:
t. 07770 430576

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