close up of a hand on a calculator

Growing up in a low-middle class Philadelphia neighborhood I didn't know how rich I was. I had clothes on my back, we ate regular meals and I was surrounded by friends and family. When I graduated from dental school, my father believed I was now rich, because that was the life he saw of a dentist. While I felt I was in debt up to my eyeballs, I now know he was right. I am rich today, but I didn't realize that when I first graduated.

Most dictionaries have several definitions of rich. The first one describes having great material wealth. “He was so rich he did not have to work.” There is no doubt in my mind that those of us fortunate to have a career in dentistry will have a better life than most. We will probably earn a good enough income to own a home and a car. We will probably be able to pay our bills, take vacations and educate our children.

“99% of all problems can be solved by money – and for the other 1% there's alcohol.”Quentin R. Bufogle

Yes, dentistry has provided me and my family with more things than I could have ever imagined as a child, but I now know that the real riches that dentistry has provided to me have nothing to do about money. Dentistry and the income it provided have allowed me to give back, and to help others on their journey.

If your practice is not profitable, it may be difficult to be generous to others. Generosity does not mean handing out money but giving of yourself to help others grow. When a dentist becomes a good leader, everyone wins. We can change lives. The lives of our patients and the lives of our team. Lead by example.

If your practice is not profitable you probably will not be happy. If you are not happy, you will bring others down. It is in your best interest and the best interest of your team, your patients, your family and your profession to be profitable! Why do something unless you can be happy doing it?

OK, let's talk about money. Live within your means. Start saving for retirement as early as possible. Do it without exception. Know the numbers of your practice. Really, it is your business and your future, so know and understand your numbers. Control your debt and work to become debt-free. Get good advisors.

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.”Jim Carrey

What I didn't know was that I was rich way before I became a dentist. May you have many opportunities to realize your riches.

Good luck on your journey,

Carl E. Steinberg, D.D.S., M.A.G.D., L.L.S.R. ( is a contributor to Spear Digest.