By Theresa Pablos, DrBicuspid.com associate editor

January 14, 2019 -- If you're a newly minted dentist, you're probably excited to start practicing the skills you worked so hard to master in school. But doing so may be easier in some cities than others, especially if you have quite a bit of student loan debt.

The experts at financial coaching company Student Loan Planner evaluated city growth, per capita income, and more to come up with their list of the best small cities for dentists with big student loan debt. These cities might be a better choice than major metropolises for dentists with thousands of dollars in student loans, according to Travis Hornsby, founder of Student Loan Planner.

"You'll pull your hair out competing in larger markets because of the saturation of young dentists driving down prices," Hornsby told DrBicuspid.com. "Especially if you already have a family, smaller cities mean lower costs, higher incomes, and less stress."

The appeal of small cities

The average dental graduate in 2018 accrued $285,184 in student loan debt, according to the American Dental Education Association. Hornsbury said these graduates and new dentists ask him where they can move to earn high incomes and rapidly pay back their loans, so he decided to come up with a resource.

To create the list, Hornsbury and colleagues took into account dentist to population ratio, average dentist salary, and adjusted cost of living for each city and state. They also ruled out cities with a rapidly decreasing population or that were located within a one-hour drive of a dental school or major airport.

The cities that made Student Loan Planner's list had a low cost of living and high earning opportunities for younger dentists. Cities in the midwestern and northeastern parts of the U.S. did especially well, a finding that surprised Hornsbury.

"People often point out how much the Rust Belt is struggling, but based on our research it's one of the top places you could move to as a dentist seeking a high income," he said. "There's a demand for dental services in these regions but a lack of supply since many dentists aren't willing to move there."

Check out the top five small cities for dentists with big student loan debt below. You can also visit the Student Loan Planner website to see the full list.

Top small cities for dentists

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