Using publically reported data from a range of sources, we've identified the best locations for dentists to live and work, as well as some of the most challenging locales.
There are a lot of factors that go into establishing which are the best – and which are the worst – communities for dentists to live and work. Certainly, money matters. But, while dentists must have some level of compassion for their fellow man, not many are doing the work out of sheer altruism. There’s more to it than just that. When evaluating cities’ merits, we have to look at a host of factors.
We started by looking at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data which gave us the top-earning cities in America – BLS reported data for 414 cities and areas in 2019. However, there is more to life than making money (nationwide, general dentists earned an average of $159,200 in 2019). That’s when we started adding such factors as the overall economy, public safety, and so forth. Our complete list of metrics is:
Included, where available, is information about the total number in that profession for the community. Nationwide, there were a total of155,000 dentists. We could not, however, include that as a metric by which to compare, because complete data for all the cities were not available.
In addition to BLS, we refined our rankings from personal finance website Wallethub.com, U.S. News & World Reports’ Healthiest Communities study, and data from Worldpopulationreview.com for the longest life expectancy, by state.
We ranked each metric on a scale of 1 to 10, compiled them, and then honed the list from there. Whoever got the lowest score earned the highest position on the list.
The east Georgia nonmetropolitan area encompasses 19 counties, including Bulloch, Wilkes, and Montgomery. Dentists in this community have bragging rights for earning the number three position for oral health. However, the rest of their rankings come in toward the bottom and they came in dead last for economy and life expectancy.
Burlington, North Carolina is a great example of why earnings don’t tell the full story of why one place ranks higher than another. They take the number two position in salary ($278,360 per year), but come in towards the bottom of the pack for community health, economy, public safety, and life expectancy. They come in dead last for education.
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The “Biggest Little City in the World”, Reno, Nevada, is in exactly the same position as it was last year – number eight. Its numbers tend to be somewhat high (like earning the number three position for economy), but it also garnered low rankings for such metrics as stress and oral health.
Longview is the 45th largest city in Texas, and its 60 practicing dentists earn an average of $272,440 a year. While its annual wage and education rankings are reasonably high, regrettably, they earned the number seven spot on our list because theycome in last place for public safety and oral health.
This area is consists of 311 towns and unorganized areas, including Avon, Industry, and Berlin. While earning the least of anyone on this list ($254,300), their numbers tended to be square in the middle of the pack. However, it sinks to the bottom half of the list because the area’s economy and overall oral health ranks are reasonably low.
The central Indiana nonmetropolitan area encompasses 16 counties, including Blackford, Henry, and Wayne. The 130 dentist practicing here live and work in a community ranked low on community health and life expectancy. However, public safety is reasonably high on the list. And while the annual salary is toward the bottom of the list – $262,400 – it is certainly one that many dentists would welcome.
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When we consider a metric like oral health, there are a couple of ways to look at it: If the area ranks poorly, one could consider that just means more opportunity for dentists. However, it’s more appropriate to look at it from the point of view of residents making dental care important and dentists doing their jobs. That is the case here. While most of the rest of the metrics are somewhere in the middle, dentists here are doing a great job of keeping area residents in good oral health.
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The west central-southwest New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area iscomprised of 81 towns, including Bartlett, Marlboro, and Winchester. The 50 dentists practicing here earned an average of $254,390 a year. While none of their rankings were in the number one position for anything, they still held a respectable number two position for such factors as community health, education, economy, stress, and life expectancy.
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For some areas, the BLS aggregates smaller, outstate regions under the header of a “nonmetropolitan” area. Such is the case for our number two entry, which encompasses 23 counties including Pembina, Barnes, and Wells counties. Although these areas may be small and out-of-the-way, dentists in this area earned the most money – $284,400 per year. While they also lead the pack in stress, oral health, and public safety, other factors – most notably, their number nine position in education – contributed to their just missing the top spot.
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Burlington and South Burlington, Vermont are located in northwestern Vermont on the Eastern shore of Lake Champlain, just south of the Canadian border. Dentists earn a respectable $275,430 a year. And while the money isn’t the top of the rankings, other factors including community health, education, economy, and life expectancy are. When all of these factors are considered together, it’s easy to see why this secures the list’s top spot.
After reading any sort of top 10 list, the natural question is, “If those are the best cities, then what are the WORST cities?” So, we looked at the nation’s bottom earners to rank those communities.
This slideshow is actually two lists – The top 10 communities and the bottom five communities. As such, the numbering and ranking was restarted for each list. That is, while the lowest ranking city on the bottom five list has a better score than the number six city on the top 10 list, they exist in two separate bodies.
Beckley, West Virginia has the dubious honor of being at the bottom of our rankings. While the 30 dentists practicing in this area don’t make the least amount of money (they earn an average of $98,990 a year), and that was their best ranking. They came in last place for community health, oral health, and overall life expectancy.
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The southern West Virginia nonmetropolitan area is comprised of 11 counties, including Greenbrier, McDowell, and Mercer. The 50 dentists practicing in this area enjoy the highest salary ($100,930) of the bottom five areas. Offsetting the wage metric are bottom-of-the-pack rankings for economy and public safety.
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Of the bottom five communities, Reading, Pennsylvania has numbers firmly in the middle of the pack for most metrics. However, an average salary of $99,770 per year and the number one position for overall economy, helps keep them from ranking at the end of the pack.
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The 50 dentists practicing in this area care for about 51,500 people. The area may have the best of the worst economy, public safety, stress, and life expectancy, but its numbers dip even further when education is factored in.
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The south Nebraska nonmetropolitan area is comprised of 44 counties, including Arthur, Jefferson, and York. The 110 dentists practicing here enjoy the best community health, education, and oral health of the communities at the bottom of the rankings. Public safety, stress, and life expectancy are also reasonably high. Their annual salary is the lowest anywhere in the nation, earning almost three-and-a-half times less than dentists in the highest-earning community.