U.S. Dentist Retirement and Career Span Trends

The ADA Health Policy Institute tracks U.S. dentist retirement and age distribution patterns to predict the future supply of the dental workforce.

How has the average age of dentist retirement changed over the years? 

Dentists are retiring around age 69 as of 2023. The average retirement age has returned to its pre-pandemic level. Over the last two decades, the average age of retirement for U.S. dentists has gone up. In 2001, the average retirement age of dentists was 64.7.

Most dentists retire after age 65

Only 21% of dentists retire before 65. One in five of dentists are age 75 or older when they exit the workforce.
U.S. dentist retirement age graph American Dental Association

The age distribution of U.S. dentists indicates a generational transition

More dentists are fresh out of dental school or near retirement. In 2017, the U.S. dentist workforce was defined by a generational divide, with large shares of younger dentists ages 30-40 and dentists near retirement age. Five years later, a larger share of dentists are younger while a smaller share of dentists are near retirement age, indicating that the shift toward a younger generation of dentists is underway.

The average age of dentists is decreasing

Since 2001, the average age of dentists has gradually gone up, reaching a high point of 50 in 2014 before steadily decreasing to 48.8 today.

U.S. dentists are working longer

The average career span of a U.S. dentist is 41.8 years. Dentists today work an average of four years more than they did in 2001.

Nearly 2 out of 5 dentists work for more than 45 years

Most dentists who retired in 2023 had a career span of at least 35 years.

U.S. dentist retirement age graph American Dental Association

Source: ADA Health Policy Institute analysis of ADA masterfile.