The American Dental Association is starting to take student debt (slightly) more seriously. In 1977, students graduated dental school with a total debt that averaged less than one-fifth of the average dentist’s net income. Today, our debt is equal to (and in most associate cases, exceeds) our average net incomes.

According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), the average dental student graduates with a $221,000 burden. In constant dollars, dental student debt has increased by almost $100,000 over the past 20 years, and $20,000 in the last 5 years alone.

The ADA has found that students graduating with relatively large amounts of debt are more likely to enter private practice, less likely to specialize, and less likely to pursue government or academic career paths.

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