Oral Surgeon Salary: Is This Career Student Debt Worth It?

Oral Surgeon Salary Is This Career Student Debt Worth It

Oral Surgeon Salary: Is This Career Student Debt Worth It?

The average oral surgeon, also known as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, OMFS, or OMS, can earn a substantial six-figure salary, well above what a general dentist makes. Still, the many years of education after dental school to specialize in Oral surgery can mean a late start in earning any salary and possibly racking up even more debt.

Is it worth the extra time and money it takes to become an oral surgeon?

Let’s examine the path to becoming an oral surgeon, its costs, and the average OMFS salary. From there, we can help you determine if the investment would be worth the result for you.

Is Being an Oral Surgeon Worth Student Debt?


An OMFS is a professional who removes wisdom teeth and other teeth that are impacted or infected and need to extract. These oral surgeons also perform other procedures, requiring extensive training over several years after dental school.

Oral surgeons are also trained to understand and administer anesthesia. It is surgery, after all. They handle complex procedures related to fractures and malformations in the jaw and cleft palate. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and reconstructive surgery, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

To become this specialist, dental students must first complete a four-year dental school program, either a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) or dental medicine (DMD), followed by a four-year residency. Years to obtain the WHO Certificate.

Many oral surgery students will seek a medical doctor degree integrated into their training. However, doing so increases post-dental school training from four to six years and means incurring more student debt, although not as much as going to school to become a doctor alone.

It is a long and expensive road to becoming an oral surgeon, but it can be rewarding. Also, unlike other dental residences, an OMS residency is funded by the Graduate Medical Education (GME) stipend, which means that an OMS resident’s salary pays similarly to a resident physician.


In conjunction with the Institute for Health Polic, the American Dental Association surveyed nearly 1,500 dentists, including specialists in 2019, on their 2018 earnings.

The study showed that dental specialists earn a substantial premium for general dentists. Of those dental specialists, OMFS’s salary ranks first.

Specialists, in general, earn much more. Associate general dentists earn $ 160,000, while specialists who do not own the practice make $ 257,000, almost $ 100,000 more: specifically external prosthodontic oral surgeons, pediatric dentists, periodontists, endodontists, and even orthodontists. According to the survey, oral surgeons in private practice earned $ 420,000 on average.

That sounds like a vast salary compared to other professions, but it comes at a high cost.

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Dental school is expensive, but when you add four to six years of additional training, student loan debt can skyrocket due to accumulating interest and possibly earning a double degree.

The average dentist we have worked with as a Student Loan Planner has a student debt of $ 388,000, while the average OMS has a deficit of $ 584,000. That’s $ 196,000 of additional student debt compared to general dentists.

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That financial burden also ranks as the second-highest average debt burden by profession we’ve seen here at Student Loan Planner. Many of our highest individual debt consultations have been with oral surgeons. We have even had clients with more than $ 750,000 in student loans.

If you’re curious about which profession has the highest debt, it’s another dental specialty – orthodontists are # 1, primarily because residency is so expensive. We have helped a handful of orthodontists who had seven-figure student debt.

The level of student debt assumed by WHO and other dental professionals is serious business. Managing that type of debt and paying it off requires an equally severe strategy.


To understand if becoming an oral surgeon is worth it, examine the cost of paying OMFS student debt.

Let’s look at an example of an average OMFS. Nick owes $587,000 in student loans and is beginning his six-year residency earning $ 55,000. Your income will increase by about $ 2,000 each year, after which the hell will make $ 300,000 in your first year after living and then $ 325,000 in the following year.

Should you pay off your loans in the full knowledge that you will eventually make good money, or should you follow an income-based repayment (IDR) plan to keep your payments low and get taxable student loan forgiveness?

Let’s compare the three IDR plan options of PAYE, REPAYE, and student loan refinancing over 20 years. All of these options would get Nick out of debt in roughly the same amount of time:

Eliminate REPAYE from foreclosure because it is the most expensive way to repay the loans of the three options, mainly because REPAYE payments last 25 years, five years longer than PAYE. Those payments will be the highest payments you will make because your income will be at its peak.

Oral Surgeon Salary: Is This Career Student Debt Worth It?

The remaining options are attractive. PAYE and the refinance mean that Nick would be debt-free in 20 years, but PAYE hands down outperform private refinances, and it’s not even as close as the numbers indicate.

If Nick consolidates right after graduating from dental school to waive his grace period, he can start PAYE right before the residency begins with a monthly payment of $ 0. Compare that to the projected refi payment of $ 3,714 for 20 years. There is no way you can afford that payment from your resident salary.

Your PAYE payment while in residence would never be more than $ 350 per month at this projection. Even after training, your PAYE payments are projected never to be higher than the 20-year refi payment.

Refinancing and paying off the loan in full seems attractive and doable with future salaries. Still, it would be best to keep payments low while in residence and lower after training so you can aggressively save to achieve financial independence and other goals.

However, any oral surgeon student loan repayment strategy will vary based on income, amount of student debt, practice ownership goals, spouse’s income, student debt situation, and other factors. It is essential to review each unique situation carefully.


Deciding whether a career as an oral surgeon is worth pursuing is a tough decision, so let’s talk about it.

The amount of student debt required to become an OMS is only part of the picture. What matters is how much it will cost to pay off the debt and how much you can earn an additional salary compared to taking on the other debt. Let’s look at a comparison with a general dentist.

The numbers show that a general dentist owner makes about $201,000 on average on $ 388,000 of student debt. A private practice oral surgeon makes about $375,000 and is $ 584,000 in debt.

The projected cost to pay off student debt for a general dentist is approximately $622,000 out of pocket using PAYE. The projected cost for an oral surgeon is $822,000 in PAYE.

Average Salary (ADA / HPI data) Student Debt (SLP data) Cost of Loan Repayment (PAYE)

General dentist$201,000$389,000$622,000
OMS Premium$174,000$198,000$200,000

An OMS salary is $174,000 more than the owner of a general dentist office. Let’s dig a little deeper by looking at how take-home pay might differ.

Let’s say the oral surgeon is in a 40% fringe tax bracket (federal and state), so they take home an additional $ 104,400 per year compared to a general dentist—the extra cost of repaying the loan projects to be $200,000.

At that rate, it would take about two years to earn enough after-tax money to offset the increased debt burden. In other words, an oral surgeon can recoup the additional cost of residency within two years of practicing, which is potentially an excellent return on investment.

But, an even more significant factor is that an oral surgeon is also missing up to six years of earning a six-figure income for additional certification compared to a general dentist. Oral surgeons have to catch up.

How long will it take to recover the lost salary and pay the additional debt with OMS salary?

It takes 13 years after dental school to recover lost income from oral surgery, plus two more years to recover the $200,000 it costs to pay off the additional debt.

Is the debt worth it?

If you look at it strictly from a numerical point of view, the answer is yes, but it is a long and expensive road. Dentists considering the WHO route should ensure that it is the path they wish to take before committing to school and residency.

An oral surgeon who doesn’t want to catch up on finances for 15 years can find ways to minimize his debt and earn more than average. For example, someone looking to become an oral surgeon would want to avoid private dental school to keep relative debt to a minimum. Additionally, they can choose to live and practice outside the ten most populated areas to earn a higher salary with a greater demand for their skills. Both of these factors can reduce up to five years from the equilibrium timeline.

Oral Surgeons Can Get A Strong Student Loan Repayment Plan

Oral surgeons can find a clear path to pay off their student loans, one that could not only save them a lot more money but could also give them a step-by-step action plan to do so. The salary for an oral surgeon can be pretty hefty. Still, part of determining whether the associated student debt burden is worth it depends on your loan repayment strategy and your career options. Wise choices can lower your potential debt burden.

Oral Surgeon Salary Is This Career Student Debt Worth It
Oral Surgeon Salary Is This Career Student Debt Worth It

Student Loan Planner has conducted more than 3,600 student loan inquiries for clients totaling more than $925,000,000 of student loan debt. We can help you figure out the optimal payment plan in just one hour. No matter what your particular circumstances and career goals are. Additionally, we include post-consultation email support to continue to answer your questions and help you implement the plan.

I work with borrowers who owe more than $ 400,000 in student loans and am very familiar with loan repayment strategies specifically for oral surgeons. However, our team can help anyone, so choose the right consultant for you based on your circumstances.

Dentist salary: how much does a dentist earn in 2022

The dentist takes care of all medical care related to the mouth, gums, and teeth. His job also includes a section devoted to the aesthetics of your smile. How does the remuneration for this profession work?

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  • Prepare your retraining
  • Current employees or job seekers
  • 100% financing with the CPF

Education and Training

How to exercise this profession is necessary to be a graduate.

You will have to pass the first year of medicine, the famous PACES (First Common Year for Health Studies), before you can choose this specialty.

Note that the number of places available is limited and that the selection is strict.

Then the course is classic with the license then master level until obtaining a compulsory third cycle to have the right to practice as a dentist. Other specializations are still possible during a third cycle called “long.”

Large income gaps

Many factors go into determining the remuneration of a dentist.

Indeed, everything depends on their age, the time spent in the firm, their ability to perform specific acts, the size of the clientele, the geographical location of the firm, and many others.

His status also matters a lot. Thus, in 2016, a self-employed dentist earned on average around € 6,100 net per month. Over the same period and as an employee, the dentist had a gross monthly salary varying between € 2,800 and € 3,500.

There is a vast majority of liberal dentists.

However, according to the Caisse Retraite Chirurgiens Dentists & Sages Femmes, 17% of dental surgeons received less than 38,616 euros, and 10.2% earned more than 193,080 euros. Officials also indicate that these gaps (ranging from one to five) have steadily increased in recent years.

Invoicing of acts performed

In this profession, the acts are divided into two categories those for which you can set the amount (acts with free fees) and others (acts with so-called opposable fees). You should know that opposable acts represent about 65% of the total activity of a dental office for only 35% of its revenues. In other words, the acts at free fees are essential for the financial survival of the practice and, therefore, the remuneration of the dentist.

Cost of a dental office

According to experts, the expenses of dental offices in France represent on average 52% of its revenues. It makes it the highest rate of all health professions. It considers that when a practitioner receives €100 in fees, €65 covers his operating costs. There is, therefore, €35 left for his gross remuneration (non-commercial profit), on which he will have to pay his taxes later.

Perform your skills assessment

  • Prepare your retraining
  • Current employees or job seekers
  • 100% financing with the CPF

Oral Surgeon Salary: Is This Career Student Debt Worth It?

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