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Beginning dentists, faced with the expense of buying equipment and the problem of establishing a practice, generally earn enough to cover expenses and little more. However, income rises rapidly as the dentist's practice becomes established. According to the American Dental Association, in 2018, the average net income of dentists who owned their own general practice was $201,860 a year, while specialists averaged $356,670 per year. Salaried dentists (who typically earn less than those in their own private practice) had median annual incomes of $151,850 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Some dentists earned less than $72,810. Dentists' earnings are lower during economic downturns, when people tend to postpone dental treatment except for emergencies.

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