Map of the best states to practice dentistry

While salary is always important when looking for the best states to practice dentistry, it is not the only thing you need to think about. As a new graduate, you need to build your life in an area where you can grow your career. A high salary does not necessarily translate to a high quality of life. For that, you must consider a lot of other factors like the taxes, cost of living, and programs available to help cover your education and build your practice.

5 Best States to Practice Dentistry

When comparing the best states to practice dentistry in 2023, we have reviewed average salaries, individual and business tax rates, overall costs of living, and any state-level programs or incentives offered for practicing. Based on those reviews, here are the top five places to start a dental career.

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#5: Montana: Starting with a Low Cost of Living

Montana has the ninth lowest cost of living in the US, thanks in large part to low housing costs and no sales tax. That makes it an attractive option, especially for new graduates who want to open their own practice. Dentists make an average of $171,950 annually, and the low cost of living helps that money go further.

Another huge benefit is the Montana State Loan Repayment Program, for individuals willing to work in high-need areas. This program pays $15,000 per year in loan repayment to individuals working at National Health Service Corps sites in Health Professional Shortage Areas. It requires either a two-year full-time obligation or a four-year part-time assignment. Both dentists and registered dental hygienists are eligible for participation.

The education program, low costs of living, and high salary make Montana an excellent place to start a dental career, but some prefer a warmer climate.

#4: Nevada: Great Tax Rates and Competitive Dentist Pay

Nevada is a tax-friendly state for both individuals and businesses. There is no state or corporate tax, making it popular with entrepreneurs. Dentists in the area make an average of $203,450 per year, though the higher salary also reflects a higher cost of living.

New graduates in Nevada may be able to offset their student loans with a state repayment program designed to serve rural communities. Individuals can work with the Nevada Health Service Corps for a period of two years (of full-time service) in exchange for loan repayment decided based on candidate need and funding availability.

Nevada is also an excellent choice for fans of warm weather, though the desert is not for everyone. If you're looking for seasons, we can look to number 3 on the list.

#3: South Dakota: Making Money Go Further with Low Costs

South Dakota is a particularly good state for graduates thinking about opening up their own practice, though the salary is high as well, with dentists making $187,850 on average. Like Nevada, it is tax-friendly for businesses and individuals. Unlike Nevada, it also has a relatively low cost of living – the seventh lowest in the US.

When it comes to helping new dentists, there are two programs available in South Dakota. One run by the South Dakota Department of Health and the other privately funded.

  • Rural Assistance Program: This program provides an incentive payment of up to $252,902 per qualified participating dentist. Participants must serve a high-need community for a minimum period of three years. Payments are based on community size. The smaller the community, the larger the incentive payment.
  • Delta Dental Loan Repayment Program: This loan repayment program is focused on increasing service for Medicaid-insured patients, with repayments ranging from $75,000 to $125,000. Payments are based on how many Medicaid patients per year are served.

The additional programs available for new dentists make South Dakota a particularly good prospect for starting a dental career. Of course, for dentists who want to maximize their income, there is another state to consider.

#2: New Hampshire: Fifth in Pay for Dentists

Dentists in New Hampshire make an average of $222,430, with even new practitioners bringing in $190,000 per year. It is also one of the highest-paying states that has no income or sales tax. However, property taxes can be high.

New Hampshire's Private Practice Dentists State Loan Repayment Program may help dentists willing to enroll as Medicaid providers. By agreeing to a three-year contract, dentists can be eligible for a repayment of $75,000. The program requires that 15% of their patient pool (or more) be made up of Medicaid patients.

New Hampshire is one of the best states to practice dentistry in 2023, but higher pay and friendlier taxes help one state edge it out of first place.

#1: Alaska: Top Tier Pay in a Tax Friendly Climate

While the harsh climate of Alaska is not for everyone, the pay sure is. Dentists in the state make an average of $242,850 per year, making it the third highest paying. Of the highest paying states, it is the only one with no income tax and has a low sales tax rate of 1.76%. All of this helps that high salary go even further.

Alaska has two programs to encourage and support dentists in the state. One is an education loan program, and the other is a direct incentive.

  • SHARP-1: This is a two-year service obligation that qualifies providers for educational loan repayment. Participants must meet certain criteria, including being in a Health Professional Shortage Area.
  • SHARP-3:This is a new program that requires a 3-year service obligation. It is more widely available than SHARP-1 and allows candidates to choose between educational payments or direct incentives, as well as other potential financial contributions.

The programs available, high pay, and low taxes in Alaska make it one of the best states to practice dentistry for new graduates. Of course, whether you join a practice or create your own, a big part of your success will be the support you get. Enter any market with an informed strategy in place and you will set your career on the right path.


Commenter's Profile Image Bryce H.
December 15th, 2022
Thank you for the info! :)
Commenter's Profile Image Ron J.
December 15th, 2022
Montana winters are cold and miserable. There are bears here. Bears will kill you. Stay away.
Commenter's Profile Image Shawn S.
December 15th, 2022
New Hampshire is also cold and miserable. Even better documented fact " Worlds Worst Weather recorded" . On January 16,2004 summit of Mount Washington registered a temperature of -42.0 C and sustained winds of 87.5 mph(140.8 km/h)resulting in a wind chill value of -74.77 C . Mount Washington's extreme weather is due to its geographic location. New Hampshire also has bears but they don't kill as much :). The weather does sometimes though.