Dentists: How They Pay Their Dental Associates

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Dental associates' compensationIn this survey, 40% of dentists say they employ a dental associate at their practice, while 60% do not.

Of those with an associate, one in three pay a salary. The other two-thirds pay a percentage, with the average associate payment being 33% of collections.

When it comes to paying associates a minimum guarantee, 35% do, while 65% do not. There’s a broad range of guarantees: from $400 a day or less to $1,000 day or more.

Overall, the average reported annual compensation for a dental associate was about $160,000.

Here are some comments from dentists:

There are all kinds of associates

  • “Like the rest of the world, some are awesome, and some are dishonest, and some should not be practicing. And faculty recommendations can be so honest, or a sham. Good luck!” (Pediatric dentist)
  • "Associates are good and bad. Finding someone who wants to work and remain in the practice has been difficult.” (Tennessee dentist)

Successful dental associate relationships

  • “If you want a successful associate, you have to have systems and demand in place that will allow them to make a handsome salary, or you will be replacing them often. My 2 have been with me 10 and 9 years. We are going to open a practice as partners together soon.” (California dentist)
  • “I have had two in the past and have had a good experience both times. It is most critical to get someone who shares your philosophy and you have a written agreement to cover contingencies, both good and bad.” (Texas dentist)

It’s no easy task

  • “Associates are hard work.” (Maryland dentist)
  • “Like herding cats!” (Florida dentist)

Dental associates: the must-have accessory

  • “I would love to be able to afford one.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “I wish I did….have an associate, that is.” (Florida dentist)

Retirement plans

  • “Soon to come – freedom.” (Tennessee dentist)
  • “Want to. Need to rebuild patient flow to acquire one. Need for exit (retirement) strategy.” (Maine dentist)
  • “I'd like to transition to one in the next 5 years.” (Texas dentist)

A helping hand would be nice

  • “I would like the extra income and keeping the door of my practice open. I do not like the idea of dual marketing and dual philosophies. It's less hassle to focus in only one direction and do it well.” (General dentist)
  • “I have a son in his second year of dental school now and most likely will have him as an associate in 2-3 years. Will need some help with that in terms of contracts, etc.” (Kentucky dentist)

Finding the right associate at the right time

  • “I would love to have an associate or partner but have been unable to attract someone to an instantly lucrative opportunity 2 hours from an unban area.” (Kansas dentist)
  • “Looking for one.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “I'm looking. However, with the poor economy, I'm glad I don't have one.” (Alabama dentist)


Note: Survey sample included 93 respondents.

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