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Cosmetic Dentist Salary: Are They the Highest Paid Dentists?

What exactly is a cosmetic dentist? That is a very good question. There is no clear answer because it is not recognized as one of the ADA’s 12 recognized dental specialties.

Today, procedures that were once performed only by specialists are more commonly done by general dental practitioners.

Cosmetic dentistry appears to be primarily a marketing term. It covers many dental procedures, some general and some performed by specialists.

What is a Cosmetic Dentist?

Technically, only ADA’s Prosthodontics specialty mentions appearance. Prosthodontists work with dental prosthetics in prosthetic dentistry.

While a dental prosthesis could definitely be part of cosmetic dentistry, it is obvious that many other types of dentists are doing what they market as cosmetic dentistry.

What is the Highest Paid Dentist?

Not surprisingly, the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery specialty is the highest earning dental practice.

According to, the average salary of an oral surgeon is $244,663. Other sources quote much higher figures.

Whether an oral surgeon has a medical degree or not can account for the differences in reported salaries.

However, this specialty also requires much more training. Oral surgeons complete three to six years of residency after dental school.

It is faster and easier to make a high salary as a cosmetic dentist. Then, if you want to add to your qualifications, you can become an oral surgeon later. 

Cosmetic Dentist Salary

The average salary of a cosmetic dentist is $161,087, according to However, some cosmetic dentists make as much as $208,668. Many cosmetic dentists will earn more, depending on their level of production.

This earnings range is likely due to which cosmetic dentistry services a particular dentist offers and how many hours they choose to work.

By adding additional dental specialty services, a cosmetic dentist can increase their earnings over time. Cosmetic Dentist Salary Graph 05 08 22

What is the Difference Between a Cosmetic Dentist and a Regular Dentist?

Today, many regular dentists offer services that were once specialties performed only by cosmestic dentists.

The Columbia College of Dental Medicine defines cosmetic dentistry as “the procedures that focus on the look of your smile.”

That could include anything from tooth cleaning and whitening to crowns, veneers, and implants. Some dentists even offer facial fillers.

What are Examples of Cosmetic Dentistry?

Everything a dentist does that can improve the appearance of someone’s smile could be considered part of cosmetic dentistry.

This includes:

  • Teeth whitening
  • Dental veneers
  • Porcelain inlays/onlays
  • Composite bonding
  • Dental implants
  • Gingivectomy (gum contouring)
  • Tooth shaping also known as enamel shaping
  • Cosmetic dentures

While many do not consider braces and orthodontics cosmetic dentistry, they can improve dental appearance.

Is Cosmetic Dentistry the Same as Being an Orthodontist?

No, orthodontics is not the same as cosmetic dentistry. Although they both do improve dental appearance, cosmetic dentistry includes services orthodontists do not provide.

And orthodontics is a specialty that requires additional education. Orthodontic offices do not typically provide other dental procedures except for cleaning.

Some states do permit dentists to offer some orthodontic treatments. They may only have a weekend’s worth of training versus the two to three years required to become an accredited orthodontist

Orthodontists focus on correcting tooth position and jaw alignment. Think of them as being more concerned with function.

But, obviously, both play a large part in improving the appearance of a person’s teeth and smile.

Is Being a Cosmetic Dentist Worth It?

Offering cosmetic dentistry services may be the easiest way to get referrals. Your patients’ friends and family are bound to notice improvements in their smiles.

And that opens the door to your services being recommended by those patients!

According to statistics compiled by SEMrush, “88% of people had the highest level of trust in a brand when a friend or family member recommended it.”

So what could be a better way to grow a new or existing dentist office than offering cosmetic dentistry?

Is Becoming a Cosmetic Dentist Hard?

The answer to this depends on what aspects of cosmetic dentistry you plan to focus on. Any dentist can offer teeth whitening.

Porcelain veneers are the most common method for improving the appearance of teeth. A dentist who chooses to perfect their ability to place veneers can increase their income.

Potential clients choose a dentist to apply veneers by researching their veneer before and after photos.

They need to see for themselves whether they like the results a particular dentist has achieved. You will be judged on every veneer you place!

Eventually, if you wish to earn the highest income from cosmetic dentistry, you may wish to become an oral surgeon.
However, any dentist can increase their income by offering cosmetic dental procedures.

Learn more at the best dental marketing blog.


About the Author - Justin Morgan

Justin Morgan is the CEO and founder of what most of us affectionately refer to as the “DMG.” From all circles within the dental industry who address dental marketing as a topic, Justin Morgan is the dental marketing guy that everyone keeps talking about.

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