Dentist Salary

If you are looking to become a dentist in South Africa, one of the questions that might be on your mind is how much you can expect to earn. Understanding the various factors that influence salaries for dentists in South Africa can help you make the most informed choices about your career path.

Another factor that can affect dentist salaries is the population density of the area in which they work. Dentists who work in densely populated areas may have more patients and therefore earn more money than those who work in less populated areas.

However, it’s worth noting that dentists who work in rural areas may be eligible for certain incentives and bonuses from the government. For example, the South African government offers a Rural Allowance to healthcare professionals who work in rural areas, which can help to offset the lower salaries that are typically offered in these regions.

Experience and Specialization

As with any profession, experience and specialization can also play a significant role in determining a dentist’s salary. Dentists who have been practicing for many years and have built up a large client base may be able to charge higher fees for their services.

Specialization can also be a key factor in determining a dentist’s earnings. For example, dentists who specialize in orthodontics or oral surgery may be able to command higher salaries than general dentists.

Public vs. Private Sector

Whether a dentist works in the public or private sector can also have a significant impact on their earnings. Dentists who work in the public sector may earn less than those who work in private practice, but they may also have access to benefits such as pension plans and healthcare coverage.

On the other hand, dentists who work in private practice may have more control over their earnings, as they can set their own fees and determine their own work schedules.

The Importance of Charging Fair Prices

Regardless of where they work or how much experience they have, it’s important for dentists to charge fair prices for their services. Charging too much can alienate potential patients and harm a dentist’s reputation, while charging too little can make it difficult to cover the costs of running a practice.

By setting reasonable prices and providing high-quality care, dentists can build a loyal client base and ensure that they are compensated fairly for their efforts.

Dentist Salary Breakdown by Experience

Another important factor to consider when looking at dentist salaries in South Africa is the level of experience that a dentist brings to the table. This can have a significant impact on how much a dentist can expect to earn over the course of their career.

Entry-Level Dentist Salaries

As of 2021, the average starting salary for a dentist in South Africa is around R400,000 per year. This figure can vary somewhat depending on where the dentist is located and whether they are working in the public or private sector.

Entry-level dentists are typically recent graduates who are starting out in their careers. They are still developing their skills and building their reputation, so it is to be expected that their earnings will be somewhat lower. However, this is also a time of great learning and growth for dentists, as they gain valuable experience and build a foundation for their future success.

Many entry-level dentists also choose to work in underserved areas, where there is a great need for dental care. This can be a challenging but rewarding experience, as they are able to make a real difference in the lives of their patients.

Mid-Career Dentist Salaries

Dentists who have been in practice for a number of years can expect to see their salaries rise significantly. As of 2021, the average mid-career salary for a dentist in South Africa is around R800,000 per year.

At this stage in their careers, dentists will have built up a solid client base and established a reputation for providing high-quality care. This can translate into higher earnings and more opportunities for advancement.

Many mid-career dentists also choose to expand their skills and knowledge by pursuing additional training or certifications. This can open up new opportunities for them, such as specializing in a particular area of dentistry or starting their own practice.

Experienced Dentist Salaries

Finally, dentists who have been in practice for a long time can expect to command some of the highest salaries in the industry. Experienced dentists who have built up a strong reputation and established a loyal client base can earn well over R1,000,000 per year.

Of course, salaries for experienced dentists can vary significantly based on a number of factors, including region, workplace, and specialization. However, many experienced dentists are able to enjoy a great deal of flexibility and autonomy in their careers, as they have already established themselves as experts in their field.

Overall, dentistry can be a highly rewarding career path for those who are passionate about helping others and committed to ongoing learning and growth. Whether you are just starting out or have been in practice for many years, there are many opportunities available to you in this dynamic and exciting field.

» Learn more: Get insider knowledge on Oral Hygienist paychecks

Comparing Dentist Salaries to Other Healthcare Professionals

When considering a career in dentistry, it can be helpful to compare salaries to other healthcare professionals in South Africa, such as general practitioners, specialist doctors, and dental hygienists.

Dentist vs. General Practitioner Salaries

In general, dentists tend to earn more than general practitioners in South Africa. While general practitioners can expect to earn around R650,000 per year on average, dentists can earn significantly more, particularly those with more experience.

However, it’s important to note that general practitioners have a wider scope of practice and can treat a broader range of medical conditions than dentists. They also have the option to work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices.

On the other hand, dentists typically work in private practices and specialize in oral health. They perform procedures such as fillings, root canals, and extractions, and also provide preventative care such as cleanings and check-ups.

Dentist vs. Specialist Doctor Salaries

Specialist doctors, such as orthopedic surgeons or cardiologists, tend to earn considerably more than dentists in South Africa. However, earning a specialist diploma requires undergoing additional years of study after your general medical training.

Specialist doctors also have a more narrow focus of practice, typically only treating patients with specific conditions or injuries. They may work in hospitals or private practices, and often perform surgeries or other advanced procedures.

While dentists may earn less than specialist doctors, they still play a crucial role in healthcare and have the opportunity to build long-term relationships with their patients.

Dentist vs. Dental Hygienist Salaries

Dental hygienists typically earn considerably less than dentists in South Africa; an average of around R250,000 per year. This is because dental hygienists focus primarily on preventative care, such as cleaning teeth and providing education, rather than performing more advanced procedures.

However, dental hygienists are an important part of the dental team and work closely with dentists to promote good oral health. They may also work in a variety of settings, including private practices, schools, and public health clinics.

Overall, while dentists may earn more than some healthcare professionals, it’s important to consider factors such as job satisfaction, work-life balance, and opportunities for professional development when choosing a career path.

About Arcadia Finance

Receive your loan with ease through Arcadia Finance. There’s no cost for applying, and it offers a range of 10 established lenders, all regulated by the National Credit Regulator of South Africa.

Additional Factors Affecting Dentist Salaries

Beyond experience and region, a number of other factors can also influence what dentists can expect to earn over the course of their careers.

Private Practice vs. Public Sector Salaries

Dentists who work in private practice generally earn more than those who work in the public sector. However, working in the public sector can offer job security and opportunities to work with underserved populations. Public sector dentists may also have access to benefits such as pension plans, health insurance, and paid time off.

On the other hand, dentists in private practice may have more control over their schedules and the services they offer. They may also have the potential to earn more through bonuses and profit-sharing arrangements.

Ultimately, the decision to work in private practice or the public sector will depend on a dentist’s personal values and career goals.

The Impact of Continuing Education on Salaries

Continuing education can have a significant impact on dentist salaries, as it allows dentists to expand their skillset and offer more advanced services to their patients. Dentists who keep up to date with the latest industry developments can expect to earn more over the course of their careers.

Continuing education can take many forms, including attending conferences, completing online courses, and participating in hands-on training programs. Some dentists may choose to specialize in a particular area of dentistry, such as orthodontics or periodontics, which can also lead to higher salaries.

Furthermore, dentists who pursue advanced degrees, such as a Master of Science in Dentistry or a Doctor of Dental Medicine, may be able to command higher salaries and take on leadership roles within their organizations.

The Role of Professional Associations in Salary Negotiations

Finally, joining professional associations such as the South African Dental Association can be helpful in salary negotiations. These associations can provide support and resources to help dentists navigate the complexities of the industry and negotiate fair compensation for their work.

Professional associations can also offer opportunities for networking and professional development, which can lead to new job opportunities and higher salaries. Additionally, some associations may offer salary surveys or other resources to help dentists understand industry trends and negotiate more effectively.

Overall, dentists who take advantage of these additional factors can position themselves for greater career success and higher salaries over the long term.


Dentistry can be a highly rewarding profession, both in terms of the level of care provided to patients and in terms of compensation. However, understanding the various factors that influence salaries for dentists in South Africa can help aspiring dentists make informed decisions about their career path, based on their unique goals and interests.

How much do you need?
*Representative example: Estimated repayments of a loan of R30,000 over 36 months at a maximum interest rate including fees of 27,5% APR would be R1,232.82 per month.

Loan amount R100 - R250,000. Repayment terms can range from 3 - 72 months. Minimum APR is 5% and maximum APR is 60%.