As a women in dentistry I am sure you wondered how your gender compares in statistics like age, income, hours worked, and more. Here are some interesting data followed by fascinating facts

How many dentists are there in the U.S. ?

As of 2019, there are 200,419 dentists working in dentistry (dentists using their dental degree in some fashion) in the U.S. 

Source: Supply of Dentists in the U.S.: 2001-2019

What is the dentist-to-population ratio in the United States?

As of 2019, there are 61.1 dentists working in dentistry per 100,000 U.S. population. Ratios vary by state.

Source: Supply of Dentists in the U.S.: 2001-2019 . 

How many dentists are female?

Among the 200,419 dentists working in dentistry as of 2019, 33.4% are female.

Source: Supply of Dentists in the U.S.: 2001-2019 (Tables in Excel). 

What percentage of dentists are specialists?

As of 2019, about one in five professionally active dentists (21.0%) reported that their practice, research, or administration area is an ADA-recognized specialty.

Source: Supply of Dentists in the U.S.: 2001-2019

Female dentists in the United States are younger than their male colleagues. According to the latest data available, 80 percent are age 44 or under, while more than 60 percent of male dentists are age 45 or older. Compared to their male colleagues, women are less likely to be in solo practices and more likely to be employees or independent contractors. Fifty-three percent of female dentists are solo practitioners compared to 75 percent of male dentists, and 29 percent of women are employees or independent contractors compared to 8 percent of men.4 While this discrepancy is in part a function of age differences, women tend to move more slowly into solo practice arrangements than men.

 Women are somewhat more likely than men to work part-time: 28 percent vs. 15 percent, and are less likely to work overtime: 16 percent vs. 30 percent. A recent study indicated that marital status does not appear to have an impact on work hours among female dentists. However, having children reduces women’s work hours by nearly one workday per week, on average.

Gender differences in income are frequent topics of discussion. According to an ADA survey, nearly two-thirds of female dentists believe that they earn less than their male counterparts, while nearly two-thirds of male dentists believe that there is no gender difference in dentists’ income levels. The existing data, however, indicates that the perceptions of female dentists are more accurate than those of their male colleagues.

A comparison of the average income of all female dentists with the average income of all male dentists is not a useful indicator of income inequality, because, as we have indicated, there are substantial gender differences in practice arrangements and experience among U.S. dentists. Still, when comparing the average net annual income of full-time male and female practitioners who have been out of dental school less than 10 years, women earned only 64 percent of what men earn. Additionally, among dentists in all age groups, women who were partners or who were in solo practice only earned 58 percent and 73 percent, respectively, of what men earned in the same practice arrangements. Women as employees only earned 47 percent of what men earn as dental practice employees. 


Women in the pipeline

The number of women in the pipeline for a career in dentistry has grown dramatically over the last 30 years. Enrollment of women in U.S. dental schools stands at 48 percent;  in 1970, only 1 percent of dental students were women. 

in an analysis of the first-year data, we found that students’ motives for attending dental school appeared to be organized into four distinct areas.   The first cluster focused on money issues, and reflected the importance of financial and job security aspects of a dental career to students.  The second cluster was a set of people-related motives. Students who gave high ratings to these motives thought that caring for and helping other people were important reasons for attending dental school.The third cluster centered on the notion of flexibility, and suggested that the freedom and flexibility that dentists have in scheduling their work relative to other professions, both health-care-related and otherwise, is important to dental students. The fourth cluster focused on business-related motives for becoming a dentist, and the degree to which students stressed self-employment and being one’s own boss as important reasons for pursuing a dental career.

Our data showed that both women and men found the financial aspects of a dental career equally important as a motive for attending dental school. The perceived flexibility of a dental career was also equally important to both men and women. On the other hand, male students rated business-related motives as being more important in their decision to pursue dental school than did female students. Conversely, female students rated caring or helping motives as more important than did their male counterparts.

When asked about their aspirations following dental school, significant gender differences among first-year students emerged. Despite the fact that first-year students are not likely to have a great deal of in-depth knowledge about dental specialties, with the exception of pediatric dentistry, women were less likely to aspire to postgraduate dental education than men. In fact, the most significant predictor of postgraduate educational aspirations among first-year students was gender. Furthermore, compared to men, women were less likely to see themselves in a solo practice following graduation and more likely to see themselves as an employee or associate in a dental practice.


The trends show an ever improving picture in all categories for women in dentistry.