This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full affiliate disclosure here.

Top Dental SpecialtiesTop Dental Specialties aren’t just for show – they can help you achieve the winning smile you’ve always wanted. Whether it’s an implant, orthodontics or periodontics, these specialized fields of dentistry can offer a variety of solutions to oral health problems. But how do you know which one is right for you? With so many options available, it’s worth doing some research to get the best outcome possible. So don’t hesitate – start exploring today and find the dental specialty that fits your needs!

Hi everyone, it’s Dr. Marina Shraga. 

A couple of weeks ago on my Instagram, I asked you all if you’re interested in and became a specialist or a general dentist. And I was really surprised with the number of people that really want to go into specialty programs. So I think it was about like 64% people that wanted to become specialists and asked you all which specialties you’re interested in. And there are the three top ones that everyone seems to just want to be, which is orthodontist, pediatric dentist and oral and maxillofacial surgeon. So I’m going to be going down the list of nine different dental specialties, and I order them by how popular they are, as in how like the most applicants and the least applicants. 

And all the data that I got was from the 2021 to 2022 survey of advanced dentistry, which you can find on the Ada website. 

Dentistry is a high-paying profession with great potential for growth. As the population ages, dentists will be needed to provide dental care that sustains healthy teeth and gums. In fact, as of 2020 there were only 50% more practicing general dentists than in 2010 according to the U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. This includes specialists who work on crowns, fillings, and tooth extractions among other procedures. With so many people seeking out this career path, it can be difficult to decide which specialty best suits you. We are here today with some information about the highest-paying jobs in dentistry so you know where your future might lie!

General Dentistry

The annual salary for a general dentist ranges between $151,000 and $205,000 according to the U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook with an average income of around $168,000. This is because more than half of dentists are in private practice which offers higher salaries as well as some benefits not offered by public or academic jobs. These include better hours (i.e., no night shifts) and holidays off work!

Moving on from our discussion about general dentistry we now turn our attention to orthodontics – one of the many specialties within this field that can be rewarding financially speaking but also personally fulfilling too! Orthodontic specialists must complete four years of dental school and three more years in a fellowship program. You can choose to work in an academic setting or as part of private practice but you will need to take your state’s examination before being licensed!


 Orthodontics, as you know, everyone knows deals with braces, a lot of people are having braces. So that’s why they want to become more dentists. I guess. I think according to the 2020 to 2021 data had 11,279 applicants and 393 applicants were accepted, which means it has a 3.5% acceptance rate and the orthodontics program is a two to a three-year program. 

They’re also among the better-paid dental practitioners, making, on average, $207,350 per year.

This is because ortho dentistry often includes working closely with surgeons and other medical professionals for complicated cases which means that it requires a great deal of time commitment and experience to do well. As such, hours are typically quite long – orthodontics may work 60+ hours each week and work at least one-night shift per week.

Orthodontic Hygiene Salaries

The average salary for someone in the ortho hygiene field is $92,000 annually with top earners (i.e., those who are best at their job) being able to make more than $150,000 each year! This is because it does not require education past high school and you can often work independently so that dental practices do not have to hire a full-time hygienist on staff. You will need ongoing training however from an instructor or mentor such as brushing your teeth at least twice per day and applying fluoride varnish every six months among other procedures. There may also be opportunities for specialization within this category like working exclusively with children or adults if desired but these will require more education and training.

Pediatric Dentistry

And the second most popular specialty is pediatric dentistry. As the name implies, pediatric means children. Pediatric dentists deal with patients who are 18 and under had 11,118 applicants with 457 that were accepted with a 4.1% acceptance rate.

The median salary for someone working within this specialty is $85,000 annually but can range up to as much as $90,000 depending on experience. You need six years after high school with four of those being spent completing dental studies followed by two more years studying pediatric dentistry before you are eligible for certification from the American Board. 

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

As one might expect, there is an extensive amount of training required before you can be certified as a specialist in this niche area including six years after high school (including two additional years studying oral surgery) followed by three more years as an oral maxillofacial resident. This includes courses on topics such as anatomy and biology that are not required during dental school studies but which can be integrated into your training program at that time if desired. The top oral maxillofacial surgeons may also offer public or academic patients who cannot afford out-of-pocket fees for their procedures in private practice or academic settings which can add heavily to your earnings potential.

The third most popular specialty would have to be oral and maxillofacial surgery. And they do more than just tooth extractions. They deal with being out cysts and tumors and reconstructing the jaw and dealing with soft tissue or anything like that. Trauma. So that’s what oral surgeons do. It is very competitive, and they have 10,440 applicants with 262 that were accepted as the lowest acceptance rate out of all the other specialties, which makes sense. It had a 2.5% acceptance rate. The program can range from four to six years and six years includes two years of medical school and then four years of oral surgery training. 

Surgeons, in general, tend to be the highest-paid specialists in the field, averaging a salary of about $217,000 a year.

🔎 See also  Philips Sonicare 4500 vs 5100: Which Electric Toothbrush is Right for You?


The fourth dental specialty is endodontics, and endodontics is more than just root canals. Their philosophy is to save the tooth. They don’t want to take it out. Like oral surgeons do want to keep the tooth. It can be saved. They deal with pulpal and periapical tissues, and that pretty much means pulpal is the nerve of the tooth inside and the periapical is around the root of the tooth. 

The program is two to three years, and it has 4,327 applicants with 220 that are accepted without 5.1% acceptance rate. 

Endodontists are also among the higher-paid dental practitioners, earning on average about $324,000 and $380,000 per year, but maybe even higher if your practice takes on public or academic patients who will not pay out-of-pocket fees like private patients.


Next, the fifth most popular dental specialty is periodontics. People think it as like the “gum doctor”, which is like so much more than that. Periodontium actually means like the different tissues that support the tooth. It’s more than just the gums. It’s like the ligaments and things like that. And some procedures that they do is crown lengthening. So if you have like a gummy smile, they’ll, they can fix that. 

They can do gum grafts, they can do pocket reductions was a cool procedure too. And it has 2,562 applicants with 199 acceptance and 7.8% acceptance rate. 


The sixth most popular dental specialty is prosthodontics. They deal with fixing and replacing missing teeth actually. And they deal with a lot of aesthetic issues too. So besides dentures, they work with crowns, bridges, anything that can replace missing teeth and add beauty to it. It has 2,277 applicants with 159 that are accepted with a 7% acceptance rate. 

Dental Public Health

Dental public health deals with the control and the prevention of dental disease and each year about 166 applicants apply and 36 people make it with a 21.7% evidence rate and the program is about 14 and a half months. 

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology

Then there is the eighth most popular, which is the Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, not surgery but radiology, so this has to deal with a lot of the advancements of our technology today. In the dental department, there can be a 2.5-5 year program, and about 150 applicants apply in 18 people are accepted with an acceptance rate of 12%. 

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology

And the last dental specialty would have to be oral and maxillofacial pathology. So there’s surgery, radiology, and then pathology. These are dentists that really work or behind the scenes, they work with microscopes, they take biopsies, work with radio, gas, and they kind of decipher a lot of the pathology and the diseases that can go on in the oral and maxillofacial area. 

They don’t directly deal with patients. They’re more of like the behind-the-scenes kind of detective. Each year about 91 applicants apply, and 16 people make it and 17.6% acceptance rate. And the program is about three years. 

Oral Surgery Salaries

This is a high-risk, highly demanding specialty but the payoff can be worth it! The average salary for this profession ranges between $262,000 to as much as $400,000 annually with surgeons who perform difficult procedures earning even higher salaries which may also include bonuses when working in private practice or academic settings. As such you will need to complete dental school (four years) followed by four additional years of surgical residency before being eligible for certification on your state’s oral surgery examination and then completing two further years of an orthodontics program. You should note that these are not part-time programs – they take up full-time study hours each week like any other professional degree program.

Oral Medicine Salaries

While this is not the highest paying specialty within dentistry, it does require a great deal of commitment to training and education as you must complete four years at dental school followed by three more years in an oral medicine fellowship with certification from the American Board of Oral Medicine! The average salary for someone working in private practice or academic setting ranges between $250,000-$300,000 annually but may be higher if you are part of a team that manages difficult cases like cancer treatment patients. This requires additional training beyond just becoming licensed – such as going through radiation therapy screening which can add up to two weeks per year.

Prosthodontists Salaries

This is a high-risk, highly demanding specialty but the payoff can be worth it! The average salary for this profession ranges between $250,000-$300,000 annually with dentists who are in private practice or academic settings earning even higher salaries which may also include bonuses when working on difficult cases such as cancer treatment patients. As such you will need to complete dental school (four years) followed by four additional years of prosthodontics residency before being eligible for certification.

Now that we’ve covered the 6 highest paying dental specialty jobs, lets breakdown the top 3 best paying states and best city for these specific dental specialties, according to Zippia:

  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon:
    • Best Paying States: South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana.
    • Best Paying City: Manchester, NH
  • Endodontists:
    • Best Paying States: Alaska, South Dakota, and Nevada
    • Best Paying City: Urban Honolulu, HI
  • Periodontists: 
    • Best Paying States: Alaska, South Dakota, and Nevada
    • Best Paying City: Chelsea, MA
  • Orthodontists and Dentofacial Orthopedists:
    • Best Paying States: Alaska, Nevada, and North Dakota
    • Best Paying City: Las Vegas, NV
  • Prosthodontists:
    • Best Paying States: North Dakota, Minnesota, and Alaska
    • Best Paying City: Iowa City, IA
  • Pedodontics
    • Best Paying States: South Dakota, Montana, and Alaska
    • Best Paying City: Norwalk, CT


What is the highest paid dentist?

Endodontists are also among the higher-paid dental practitioners, earning on average about $200,000 per year. Thankfully, oral surgery has come a long way in just a short amount of time

What is the newest dental specialty?

Dental anesthesiology becomes the 10th dental specialty recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards

Is DMD better than DDS?

DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery, while DMD is the abbreviation for the Latin version of Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine (either one is correct.) Although the credentials are different, the training and degree are practically identical.

Why is a dentist called a dentist?

dentist, also known as a dental surgeon, is a surgeon who specializes in dentistry, the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity. The dentist’s supporting team aids in providing oral health services.

What type of dentist should I see?

General Dentist: Also known as a family dentist, this is your go-to dentist for most routine procedures, including teeth cleanings, check-ups, fillings, crowns, root canals, sealants, and screenings for oral disease

Do dentists have the title Dr?

Dentists are not prevented from using doctor entirely, but it is about the way that they use it.” A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “The title of “Doctor” is not a protected title, so you don’t have to be a medical practitioner to use it.”

Who earns more dentist or doctor?

Dentists in some places are so well compensated that they earn more than the average doctor. Meanwhile, the average general dental practitioner took in $181,000 in 2013, according to the dental association, compared to $175,000 for a family doctor, according to WebMD Medscape’s annual compensation report.

Is dentist a stressful job?

Dentistry is a high-stress career with high rates of depression, anxiety, and addiction. Running a dental practice, paying back colossal student loans, dealing with insurance companies for reimbursement, and performing delicate tasks in excruciating detail all result in a high-stress career.


There’s a lot of stats and everything and you might be worried, oh my God, like I can’t be an oral surgeon because there’s a 2.5% acceptance rate as I was not necessarily the case. Just because these numbers are really like scary and daunting doesn’t mean that you don’t have what it takes, and we keep continuing to dream big, work hard, and never to give up to reach whatever your goals may be, whether it is to become a specialist or a general dentist, which is absolutely fine. 

Coming down below the specialty that you are most surprised about, like, wow, it existed. I comment down below what specialty you are interested in.

🔎 See also  Oral-B 7000 SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush Review

Endodontics: This specialty deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the dental pulp and surrounding tissue. Endodontists may perform root canal treatments or other more complex procedures

Endodontics is an essential specialty in the field of dentistry. This area of expertise solely deals with the inner workings of teeth, from the dental pulp to the surrounding tissue. Endodontists are specially trained to provide preventative care, diagnose, and treat any diseases that affect the teeth’s inner layers. The dental pulp is the soft tissue in the center of teeth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and other connective tissues. When this tissue becomes infected or inflamed, it can lead to intense pain and discomfort. Endodontists are experts in treating these types of ailments, such as root canal therapy.

Root canal therapy involves removing the diseased or infected pulp from within the tooth, cleaning the area, and sealing it off afterward. Endodontists use special tools and techniques to ensure that the procedure is painless and effective. They also have a variety of other treatment options available for more complex cases of tooth decay or damage, such as surgical interventions.

In addition to performing these procedures, endodontists also work tirelessly to educate their patients on proper dental care practices. By understanding the significance of keeping up with good dental hygiene practices, their patients can avoid future dental problems. An endodontist’s goal is to encourage preventative care to ensure their patients’ optimal oral health. They work diligently to ensure that their patient’s teeth are restored to their full functionality and natural appearance, reducing the need for any future dental interventions.

Overall, endodontics is a fascinating area of dentistry that focuses on maintaining and restoring healthy teeth from the inside out. Endodontists provide essential care to their patients, not only in performing necessary dental procedures but also in educating them on proper oral hygiene habits. Their expertise ensures that patients receive the best possible care and that their dental health is preserved for years to come.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: This specialty involves surgeries on the mouth, face, and jaw. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons may perform a wide range of procedures including tooth extractions, jaw realignment, facial reconstruction, and cleft lip and palate repair

Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a highly specialized field of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the mouth, face and jaws. As an enthusiast with expertise in this field, I can say that oral and maxillofacial surgeons deal with the most challenging cases, from complex facial fractures to intricate craniofacial implants. These doctors must have a unique blend of expertise, compassion and artistry to treat patients who have various dental problems, including cleft lip, gum disease, oral cancer and other facial abnormalities.

One of the most common procedures performed by these professionals is tooth extraction. When a tooth is badly damaged or decayed, and it’s beyond restoration, patients turn to oral and maxillofacial surgeons to have it removed. Also, when wisdom teeth grow in incorrectly, causing severe pain and inflammation, these specialists can extract them safely to prevent future problems. They may also perform dental implants or jaw realignment surgeries, like orthognathic surgery, to correct a misaligned jaw.

Another field where oral and maxillofacial surgeons excel is facial reconstruction. This is where they bring their artistry into play, as they work on restoring the functionality and appearance of the face through surgical procedures. Patients who have been in accidents or have had severe facial trauma turn to these surgeons to rebuild their face and regain their confidence. Finally, in cases where a patient is born with cleft lips and palates, oral and maxillofacial surgeons work with a team of experts to correct the defects and ensure that the patient grows up with a healthy and functional mouth.

In conclusion, oral and maxillofacial surgery is a field that provides valuable services to individuals with serious dental conditions from tooth extractions to reconstruction of the face. These specialists must acquire a unique blend of knowledge, expertise, and creativity to be able to perform their work safely and efficiently. As an expert in this field, I urge patients to seek the services of these professionals when faced with dental problems that need surgical intervention.

Oral Pathology: This specialty involves the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the mouth, teeth, and gums. Oral pathologists may perform biopsies, microscopic examinations, and other diagnostic tests to identify and treat oral diseases

If you’ve never heard of oral pathology, it’s a fascinating field that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in the mouth, teeth, and gums. Oral pathologists work closely with dentists and other healthcare professionals to help patients maintain a healthy and functional mouth.

Oral pathology involves a wide variety of different conditions, ranging from minor issues like canker sores to more serious problems like oral cancer. To diagnose these conditions, oral pathologists may perform biopsies, take X-rays or other types of imaging, and use microscopic examinations to get a closer look at what’s going on inside a patient’s mouth.

One of the most important aspects of oral pathology is early detection. Many oral diseases can be successfully treated if they are caught early, which is why regular dental checkups are so important. If you’re experiencing any unusual symptoms in your mouth, like persistent pain or swelling, it’s important to get in touch with your dentist or an oral pathologist right away.

Overall, oral pathology is a critical specialty that plays an important role in helping people maintain their oral health. By working closely with other healthcare professionals, oral pathologists help to ensure that patients get the care they need when they need it.