There is an old maxim, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” No one knows just how long they will practice dentistry. It could be one year, ten years or fifty years, no one knows. A standard practice lifetime for a dentist is usually around thirty to thirty-five years, and we each like to think that this applies to ourselves. However, the vicissitudes of life are such that no one would even try to predict this; we just have to leave things to fate. We can’t do anything about the number of years we have to practice, but we can do something about how we plan for those years.

If you have a family in which is dependent on you and your future earning power, then the choices you make as you start out on your career can and will have a profound effect on their lives. What is the primary reason to go into dentistry? I know this would annoy your former instructors at dental school, but the answer should be to make enough money that will allow you to provide a better standard of living and financial security for your family. Your family should always be your number one responsibility, and it is up to you to provide for them.

How long will you practice dentistry? The answer is… you don’t know! Death, disability, incapacitating illness and even burnout can cut a career short. When you are planning your family’s financial security, should you plan for your future like you’ve got thirty-five years to practice? Or, should you plan your future like you only have ten or twelve years? Having a business plan that allows you to reach financial security in the shortest period is the smartest and most responsible choice. Hopefully, you will be able to practice dentistry for at least ten years, so we advocate a plan that gets you where you want to be in that period.

So how do you come up with a plan for financial security in the shortest period? You can do this by accepting certain elementary truths when planning your future. For example, making more money is certainly better than making less money. For most dentists, you will make much more money owning and operating your own practice than you ever will working for someone else.

Reasonable earnings, for an average associate, practicing dentistry in someone else’s office, are somewhere between $100,000 to $150,000 per year. Reasonable earnings, for an average dentist who owns and operates his/her own solo practice, are around $200,000 to $ 300,000 annually. Taking it a step further, reasonable earnings for an entrepreneurial dentist, owning several dental offices, is between $500,000 to $1,000,000 a year!

Take some time to think about what you want your plan to be. This article only scratches the surface, explore all of your options before you make a choice. Talk to other dentists and ask them what they would have done differently. Talk to one of our analysts about the different opportunities that are available to you now. Just remember, failing to plan is a plan to fail. If you have confidence in your ability and the desire to reach financial security in a shorter period, then you owe it to yourself, and your family, to investigate all of the possibilities that your new career in dentistry has to offer you.

Teddy Roosevelt once wrote “Far better it is, to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits, who never enjoy much or suffer much, for they live in the gray twilight… that knows not victory nor defeat.” The choice is yours to make, and if you want more information on how to plan for a more rewarding future in dentistry, then call AFTCO today at 800-232-3826 or visit our website at www.AFTCO.net for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.

Print this Article