How Much Does It Cost To Become An Orthodontist

Last Updated on December 13, 2022 by


Before they see their first patient, dentists incur the biggest cost of their careers: education expenses. Before entering into dental school, students must earn a 4-year bachelor’s degree. They then enter a 4-year dentistry program. Completing a full dentistry program can cost approximately $166,240 to more than $300,000, depending on the school. Some universities, such as the University of Florida, also charge a fee for purchasing dental instruments needed during the program. Students specializing in endodontics were budgeted an additional $36,836 for instruments at the university for the 2010-2011 year.

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The first step to becoming an orthodontist is to obtain your bachelor’s degree. This typically takes four years. Majoring in a hard science may be the most efficient way to knock-out your pre-dental requirements, but don’t feel pressured to declare Biology or Chemistry as your concentration. Using medical school data as a proxy, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges only 51 percent of 2012 medical school matriculants majored in the biological sciences.

Seeing as New York University is the largest dental school in the US and is also the home of one of the nation’s largest orthodontic residency programs, let’s use them as a case study. Below is the cost of attendance for NYU undergrad, the College of Arts and Sciences.

Freshman YearSophomore YearJunior YearSenior Year
Tuition & Fees$49,242$49,242$49,242$49,242
Room & Board$17,578$17,578$17,578$17,578
Travel & Personal$6,422$6,422$6,422$6,422
Health Insurance$4,167$4,167$4,167$4,167

Continuing Education and Licenses

Leaving school does not end the education costs for dentists. Many dentists leave dental school with enormous school loans that must be paid back. Paying back these loans lessens the amount of income that they actually retain. Another educational expense is continuing education. Changes in health care and dentistry necessitate the need for dentists to stay current in their field. Many states mandate a certain number of education hours that a dentist must take in order to continue practicing. New York, for example, requires dentists to complete 60 hours of continuing education in a 3-year period. The prices of the classes vary, but the amounts add to the overall career cost.

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Dental School

The next step to becoming an orthodontist is to obtain your dental degree. This will take another four years. Congrats! You just got admitted to the NYU College of Dentistry.  And don’t forget that dental school is much more expensive than medical school.

Instruments and
Vital Book Fees
Health Insurance**$3,354$3,354$3,354$3,354
Room & Board**$27,966$33,560$33,560$30,756
Personal Expenses$3,888$4,666$4,666$4,628
Loan Fees****$216$216$216$216
Living Expenses

2016 Salary Information for Dentists

Dentists earned a median annual salary of $158,390 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, dentists earned a 25th percentile salary of $110,030, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $201,830, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 153,500 people were employed in the U.S. as dentists.


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