Retirement for Dentists: These Days, Retirement is Totally Optional

Dental Retirement Survey ResultsOne in Five Dentists Can’t Afford to Retire

In a recent survey, The Wealthy Dentist asked dentists about their retirement plans. Two-thirds of our dentist respondents say that they expect to choose keep working part-time to keep themselves busy. Only 13% replied that they’re on track financially and will retire completely once their financial goals are fully met. One in five dentists would like to retire, but aren’t sure they will be financially able to afford it.

We also asked dentists about their target retirement age. And aren’t the specialists lucky! They’re planning to retire an average of six years before their colleagues practicing general dentistry.

What’s your target retirement age?
Average: 63 years old
General Dentists: 64 years old
Specialists: 58 years old

Check out the complete dental retirement survey results

Dental Retirement Age? No Way, Say Dentists

Dentists veto mandatory dental retirement ageDentists shouldn’t have to retire just because they’ve reached a certain age, say doctors. This survey found only 1 dentist in 10 supporting a mandatory retirement age for dentists.

A mandatory dental retirement age was recently in the spotlight when the European Court of Justice ruled in favor of Germany’s law mandating retirement for dentists and firefighters past a certain age, finding it does not constitute age discrimination. [Read more]

Here are some thoughts from dentists:

  • Dental continuing education should be required. Patients know when a practitioner’s abilities are diminishing, as do dentists themselves. Liability concern should prevent dentists from procedures for which they no longer have the skills.” (Mississippi dentist)
  • “In Germany and in Europe, there is a mandatory retirement age for workers/employee, so why not for dentists? I do not think it has to do with competence, but rather with social economy and spot for young dentists to practice.” (California orthodontist)
  • “I am approaching my 76th birthday and 48th year in practice. I still am able to deliver superb dentistry including full-mouth and cosmetic dentistry cases, but I just see patients three days a week. To me, retirement is a nasty word.” (California prosthodontist)
  • “I am about to turn 70 this year, and I feel my skills are better than they have ever been. I take lots of continuing dental education and feel I know so much more about dentistry than most younger recent grads.” (New York dentist)
  • “A simple evaluation of current work is very easy to do today. Just have a dentist present pictures and radiographs of current work as a competency report.” (New York prosthodontist)
  • “There maybe should be some additional testing in those dentists over 75-80. We have one in our city that I believe is 88… His patients are not getting proper periodontal care and I’m concerned about the dentistry provided.” (California dentist)
  • “The doctor should know when it is time to hang it up.” (Texas pediatric dentist)
  • “If you can be US president in your 70’s, why not a dentist?”
  • “Not only do people’s skills vary, different aspects of dentistry demand different levels of skills. In addition to orthodontics, I practice dental sleep medicine (oral appliances for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea). I could practice the latter until they take me out on a stretcher.” (Oregon braces dentist)
  • “We all know dentists that should have ‘retired’ at the age of 30! Some of us can go to 70 with no problems. It depends on the individual.” (Nevada dentist)
  • “Dumb idea. Who would make that decision — some governmental bureaucrat? Should there be a mandatory retirement from life itself, too?” (California dentist)
  • “The wealth of knowledge and experience an older dentist has would be a loss to our profession if he/she could not mentor a new associate in a clinical environment.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “Specialties vary. People vary. It’s insane to consider seriously.” (Colorado orthodontist)

Read more: Dentist Retirement: Dentists Say ‘No’ to Mandatory Retirement Age

Dentist Retirement Age: Dental Management Survey

Dentist retirement ageOn average, dentists expect to retire around age 69. The average age of dentists responding to this survey was 55.

Younger dentists are looking at even more years of work ahead of them. Dentists under 50 expect an average dentist retirement age of 74. This group, with an average age of 43, forecasts about 31 more years of work.

Even though less that half of dentists expect to retire by the age of 65, two out of three say their retirement plans are still on track. For one dentist in three, though, retirement plans have fallen off track.

Here are some comments about dentist retirement age:

  • “Actually, I do not plan on retiring in the traditional sense. I plan on always being active and doing something productive with my life. Retirement = DEATH!” Nevada dentist
  • “Competition in orthodontics is fierce, and I am not expecting it to improve in the future. With dental insurance companies reducing coverage and a weak economy, I am just hoping to hang on to retirement.” Wisconsin orthodontist
  • “I don’t have a hobby to retire to. I like what I do, so I am not in a rush to retire.” Missouri dentist
  • “I have cut down to 160 days a year for many years, and I expect to continue to reduce days worked. I could retire financially but have no desire at this time. Instead, I only do procedures that I enjoy.” Illinois dentist
  • “I plan on working until I am physically in the grave. However, I want to make sure that I plan that 6 months in advance.” Colorado orthodontist
  • “I’m feeling pretty confident. My house and condo are paid off. $2.5M put away in plans, still funding about $200k/year, and expect to net about $700k when I sell my practice.” Indiana dentist
  • “Thankfully, years ago I put my 401k contributions on automatic withdrawal every two weeks as opposed to what was left at the end of the month. I never missed the extra money that I was saving, and now I am on the path to a comfortable retirement.” Connecticut periodontist
  • “There is a noticeable decrease in demand for dentistry, and we’ve felt it lately.” General dentist
  • “We should be able to retire in five more years at age 52. But I don’t want to retire! I will continue to work as long as my wife and my health will allow.” Florida dentist
  • “We, as a profession, are doomed to the role that Pharmacists play: working for Managed Care. Working for 50% of what was paid 20 years ago based on inflation, with impotent leadership and a willingness on the part of dental schools and those that build dental schools to make it worse by putting out twice as many professionals as the economy and the population dictates. Too bad. This is a great, great profession and has been for over 100 years.” Colorado orthodontist
  • “While the government employees have all voted themselves generous pension plans for life, the rest of us have no such thing. At 62, in the current environment, I have absolutely no business even thinking about retirement. My government employee contemporaries all retired in their 50’s. Wake up, America!” Illinois dentist

What do you think about the economy and dentist retirement age?

Dentists Retirement Plans Affected by Economy

Dentists Retirement Plans Affected by EconomyThe Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey that asked dentists if their retirement changed because of the recession.

Two out of three dentists surveyed acknowledged that they plan to work longer than they expected because of the economy over the past four years.

Said one Michigan dentist, “We find we’ll be working longer to get to where we want to be with retirement assets. What had formerly seemed to be an option (that of working longer if we felt we were still enjoying doing so) has become a necessity!”

The New York Times reports that many older Americans are delaying retirement and being added to the workforce in record numbers. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans ages 65 and older are working or looking for jobs — that’s the highest in almost half a century. The share of seniors claiming Social Security benefits fell last year to the lowest level since 1976.

To hear more of what dentists had to say about dental retirement planning, Click on Play and watch the following video —

How are your dental retirement plans? Have they changed over the past four years because of the recession?

If you would like to participate in future dentist surveys, please sign up for The Wealthy Dentist newsletter to cast your own vote.


Suburban Dentists Change Their Retirement Plans Due to the Economy

Suburban Dentists Change Their Retirement Plans Due to the EconomyNew research by over 50 service provider Saga Services indicates that boomers are planning to delay their retirement through the next decade for a wide range of reasons.

Over 60% of dentists in our recent The Wealthy Dentist survey acknowledged that their retirement plans have changed for economic reasons.

Here’s how the dentist’s responded:

  • 61% answered yes; the economy has made them change their retirement plans.
  • 30% reported that they are still on their retirement track, as planned.
  • 9% responded, “Hmm… what retirement plans?!?”

In past The Wealthy Dentist surveys on retirement, the younger dentists in our surveys were more likely to say they anticipate working longer, but this time 51% of the respondents changing their retirement plans are in their 50’s and 60’s.

Said one Michigan dentist, “We find we’ll be working longer to get to where we want to be with retirement assets. What had formerly seemed to be an option (that of working longer if we felt we were still enjoying doing so) has become a necessity!”

41% of the dentist respondents who answered yes to changing their retirement were suburban dentists, while just 22% of rural dentists indicated that they are altering their retirement plans.

Here are some more thoughts from dentists on the subject of retirement:

“I have come back to pre-2008 levels and increased, but the market fluctuations and Obamacare uncertainty has made me distrustful of going out too soon. The corporate dental issues are of concern, too, if I would want to work part-time. Also, what about the Social Security benefits and Medicare benefits 10 years from now?” (Indiana dentist)

“I will work forever!” (Georgia dentist)

“There are three objectives here: One is to make money, two is to save money, and three is to know what to do with that saved money. Most dentists might do one or two of these well, but not all three.” (Virginia periodontist)

“I love what I do and I am still excellent at the dentistry I provide, so yes, my plans have changed. I will keep going as long as my health dictates!” (California dentist)

“It as been much harder to stay on track and I have not met my goals every year, but I still hope to retire at 66 only because my debt is low and I will not count on the sale proceeds to fund my retirement.” (Texas dentist)

“I have set a date May 2018. The only thing that might change that is if I decide to retire two years earlier. I did an assessment of my retirement nest-egg and it was better than I thought. Two years earlier is looking OK.” (Colorado dentist)

“I love my work and I will want to slow down and take more time off to travel, so any active work income will substantially add to my retirement income from investments.” (General dentist)

“I’ve sold my practice and will retire at the end of the year thanks to a great broker.” (Arizona dentist)

How have your retirement plans been holding up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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