Dentists earn an average of £89,062 in England and Wales, figures showed today.

The data, for dentists in 2007/08, was released by the NHS Information Centre.

There are more than 19,000 dentists in England and Wales, of which 382 earned more than £300,000 before tax, including expenses.

Another 113 dentists earned £275,000 to £300,000, while 159 earned £250,000 to £275,000, the figures showed.

Another 228 dentists earned £225,000 to £250,000, and 291 earned £200,000 to £225,000.

A total of 4,418 dentists earned between £100,000 to £200,000.

Of the dentists, around 7,500 hold a contract with the local primary care trust (PCT) or local health board (LHB) to provide NHS dentistry.

They earned an average of £345,651 before tax, including average expenses of £218,843.

The centre said none of the figures could be compared with the previous year's earnings, which were calculated differently.

Its chief executive, Tim Straughan, said: "The England and Wales report looks at earnings in the second year of the new contractual system and reveals the average earnings of NHS dentists varies greatly depending on whether they personally held a contract with their primary care organisation."

John Milne, chair of the British Dental Association's general dental practice committee, said: "These statistics reflect the second year of operation of the 2006 dental contract in England and Wales, a time when dentists were working hard to overcome problems with the new arrangements and make them work for their patients.

"Many practitioners were contending with the uncertainty of potential clawback of their contract values.

"Dentists, almost uniquely in the NHS, carry the business risk of their surgeries and are responsible for providing premises, equipment and staff.

"The picture the statistics paint is one of earnings settling and the expenses of NHS practitioners rising slightly, although, as the Information Centre itself points out, it is hard to make comparisons with figures from previous years."