The average University of Washington dental student graduates with a debt load of $255,000 – and that’s still $30,000 lower than the average in the U.S., which doubled between 1996 and 2016. The debt load of a public school dental education increased by 133%, including undergraduate school, living expenses and fees.
Local dentists, as well as top academicians, are watching Washington’s dental industry transform based on the economic pressures today’s young dentists face.
Dentists have long been a fixture on America’s Main Streets. Until recently, the most common path for recent dental school graduates was to start their own practice, purchase a practice from a retiring dentist or buy into a partnership with other dentists.
More and more, however, dentists cannot afford to open or buy into a small business because they are already so saddled with debt, and banks won’t consider loaning them more money – the risk is too high. Dentists find themselves taking per diem or quota-driven positions at chain dentistry practices, or Dental Service Organizations, which are popping up in Southwest Washington.