Personal Finance

Best Cities for Dentists

Best Cities for Dentists

Few people actually like going to the dentist, although 62% of American adults (ages 18 to 64) made at least one visit in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are our best cities for dentists, which we have settled upon after considering the following four data points: number of jobs, median salary, cost of living and location quotient.

Best five cities for dentists

Of the 88 cities reporting data, these five cities earned our best score based on the above factors. An important factor is the average paycheck: The 97,990 dentists employed in the U.S. in May 2014 earned a median salary of $149,540, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Port St. Lucie, FL

With the study's third-best annual average salary ($227,870) and location quotient (2.47), Port St. Lucie was our overall best city for dentists. The 230 dentists working here enjoy a comfortable cost of living that is 9% cheaper than the average American city.

2. Colorado Springs, CO

The only city to score sub-30 in our study, Colorado Springs sprang to second place, in part because it had the country's 10th-highest annual average salary for dentists ($209,360). That is 23% higher than the study's average ($170,855). The Colorado Dental Association is closer to Denver, an hour's drive north of Colorado Springs, the state's second-most populous city.

3. Prescott, AZ

Coming in third, Prescott's performance in our metrics earned a cumulative score of 37, which is 61% lower (and therefore, better) than the study's average. The Arizona city recorded top-15 totals in both annual average salary ($205,550) and location quotient (1.59).

4. Lake County, IL

Lake County — along with its metro area partner, Kenosha County, WI — slid right into fourth place. With 330 dentists, it employed the most dentists among our top 10 cities — though still only a fraction of the usual suspects: Los Angeles (2,770), Chicago (2,290) and Washington, D.C., (1,960). Fifty miles south of Lake County sits the University of Illinois at Chicago's College of Dentistry, one of the country's highly-respected schools.

Statistical region includes Kenosha County, WI

5. Redding, CA

The first of eight California cities to crack our top 25 (see top 100 list below), Redding accrued a score of 49, which was 49% lower (better) than the study's average. This was despite the fact that there are just 60 dentists in the city. Redding also ranked as ValuePenguin's No. 1 city for registered nurses.

Top 50 cities for dentists

Here are the top 50 cities for dentists to work and live.


Average Salary
Location Quotient
Cost of Living


Port St. Lucie, FL$227,8702302.479110


Colorado Springs, CO$209,3602901.6010028


Prescott, AZ$205,550701.5910837


Lake County, IL$222,2003301.149444


Redding, CA$200,740601.5211149


Wilmington, DE$221,0202701.1110249


Santa Cruz, CA$219,670801.1915451


Fresno, CA$170,2703801.5910158


Dothan, AL$217,000501.158859


Rome, GA$186,680401.538961


San Jose, CA$156,1501,2601.7918762


Anchorage, AK$219,7801301.0613562
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These are the three key questions we asked in coming up with the list:

1. How much can dentists earn in this city?

We ranked the best cities for dentists based on average annual pay. Income is often the most important factor people consider when starting their careers or relocating elsewhere. A high salary in an expensive city, however, may be less attractive than a lower salary in an affordable town. Our next metric takes affordability into consideration.

2. How affordable is it to live in this city?

After average salary, we looked at the cost of living. The cost of living is a measure of how far earnings can be stretched. Cities with lower cost of living index numbers ranked higher in our study. The average city is benchmarked at 100. A city with a cost of living index of 188, such as Honolulu, would have living expenses are 88 percent more expensive compared to the average city, generally speaking.

3. What is the location quotient for dentists in the city?

A city with a high average salary and low cost of living may seem ideal, but not if job opportunities are limited. Our third factor accounts for employment prospects by favoring cities with high location quotients. Location quotient measures the concentration of dentists in an area as a percentage of all occupations, and compares that to the national average. We interpret a higher location quotient to mean a relatively higher demand for a dentist's services.