How much dentists earn and why

By DR SIMON HOCKEN

Like most of you, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for when I decided to go to dental school. I enjoyed biology at school, I was good with my hands and I wanted the freedom to live near the sea and sail small boats. I assumed that dentists earned a reasonable salary and that I could live well. And so it was; I’ve lived happily in south Devon these last 35 years and got through a lot of boats.

Many of the younger dentists I meet seem to have taken a different approach to me. They trained in dentistry for many reasons but often because they felt it was perceived as a highly paid, safe profession that engenders respect among their peers and within their community.

However, some younger dentists are becoming disillusioned and disappointed. Good jobs (and thereby a good income) are getting harder to come by and as for respect, well yes, it’s mostly intact although the popular media still think dentists are fair game – look at what happened to the dentist who shot Cecil the lion (see what I did there?). And of course, these days, by necessity, dentists who own their practice have had to learn how to be successful in business as well as a successful clinician.

I thought it would be interesting to review the 40 or so current Breathe practices and see how our dentists earn their incomes so that if you are disappointed with yours, you can see what your options might be. The figures below are averages and, of course, there are several outliers.

Some options:

  1. Get a job

Associate grossing 4 UDAs/hour, 7.5 hours per day, 4.5 days per week, 46 weeks per year, paid at £11/UDA. Will earn circa £77k/year.

Associate grossing £750/day on 45% contract after 5% lab bills 4.5 days per week, 46 weeks per year. Will earn circa £66k/year

Associate grossing £1,100/day on 45% contract after 10% lab bills 4.5 days per week, 46 weeks per year. Will earn circa £92k/year

  1. Become a practice principal

Full time principal with full time associate and part time hygienist, practice grossing £600k, profit £110k -£150k (profits will be higher if low or no finance costs).

Full time principal with two full time associates and 1.5 full time hygienists, practice grossing £850k, profit £150-£210 (profits will be higher if low or no finance costs).

  1. Become an orthodontist with access to an NHS contract

Full time associate, £190k -£250k

Principal £300k-plus

  1. Become a specialist

Specialist associate grossing £2,000/day on 45% contract after 10% lab bills, three days per week, 46 weeks per year. Will earn circa £112k/year and have a lot of free time to go to conferences…

  1. Own three practices and don’t work in any of them

Three £600k turnover practices could generate 5-15% of turnover as profit, that is £90k-£270k.

What would I do? I’d have my own practice which I would work in clinically, with three surgeries, open six days a week and evenings, offering a raft of private services, grossing £1m and earning profits of around £200k. I’d take plenty of time off and go sailing in small boats…

What will you do?

If you would like some help to have a life in dentistry that you really love, email me at simon.hocken@breathebusiness.co.uk

Best wishes

Simon

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One Response to How much dentists earn and why

  1. Dan Naylor says:

    Fair comments Simon, work life balance should not be underestimated and make the job work for you!

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