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The Top 10 (and Bottom 5) Cities for Dentists in 2022


Here is the annual list of the top 10 and bottom 5 cities for dentists to live and work in in 2022.

The United States of America is a big place. Its total area is 3.8 million square miles and there are more than 4.1 million miles of roads. It’s hard to say, exactly, how many cities there are because the number is nebulous, depending on how a “city” is defined. Do townships count? What about unincorporated areas? But the best guess is to say that there are about 15,000 cities. There are also 3,006 counties; 14 boroughs and 11 census areas in Alaska; the District of Columbia; and 64 parishes in Louisiana.

The United States of America is a big enough place that dentists can work just about anywhere they want. To that end, we’ve compiled our annual list of the top 10 (and bottom 5) places for dentists to live and work.

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 – in fact, only 1 city in the top 10 list was even in the national salary top 10. When evaluating cities’ merits, we have to look at a host of factors.

We started by looking at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’s (BLS) data which gave us the top-earning cities in America. But the cost of living varies, depending where in the country one lives. For instance, things like food, housing, and discretionary spending are more expensive in San Francisco, California than they are inthe southeast part of Mississippi. As such, we added the AdvisorSmith Cost of Living Index as a factor in the calculations.

However, there is more to life than making and spending money (nationwide, general dentists earned an average of $163,220 in 2021). That’s when we started adding such factors as overall economy, public safety, and so forth.

Our complete list of metrics is:

  • Annual wage
  • Cost of living index (COLI). This is a ratio comparing the cost of living in a certain area to the national average. Some areas are more expensive to live in than others, so the lower the COLI, the less expensive it is to live in an area.
  • Community health
  • Education
  • Economy
  • Public safety
  • Stress, including work-related, family-related, money-related, and health and safety-related stress.
  • Oral health
  • Life expectancy

Included, where available, is information about the total number in that profession for the community. Nationwide, BLS reported a total of139,200 dentists in 2020 (they didn’t have 2021’s number).

In addition to BLS, we refined our rankings from personal finance website Wallethub.com, U.S. News & World Reports’s Healthiest Communities study, and data from Centers for Disease Control for life expectancy, by state.

We compiled all the rankings and then honed the list from there. Whoever got the lowest score earned the highest position on the list; whoever got the highest score, well, we talk about them also.

With no further ado…

Bottom Five

With any top 10 list, there is a natural inclination to ask, “If those are the best places to live and work, where are the worst?” We scrolled to the end of the list to present the following:

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