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Are You a Chiller, a Sculptor or a Blowtorch? Learn Your Debt Payer Persona

Your financial future is not yet certain. But it helps to plan ahead.

You've worked hard and made important strides in four years of dental school. As you approach the finish line, you're focused on the future:

  • What type of job (e.g., private practice, DSO) will position you for the career in dentistry you want?
  • Where will your new career take you — big city, college town, back to your hometown?
  • How will you achieve a work-life balance that keeps you sane?

You're likely also worried about paying off loans. The average educational debt for indebted 2020 dental school grads was over $304,000.1 You might be one of the lucky few who didn't have to borrow. But if you did take out loans, chances are you've considered how they'll impact your life decisions.

Think of your debt as a giant block of ice. It's cold and solid and intimidating, but eventually it's going to melt. You can simply accept it as one of the bills you'll have to pay every month and whittle it down to zero over 10, 15 or 20 years. Or, if that's not your style, you can make the effort to knock it out as fast as you can.

Your financial future is not yet certain. But it helps to plan ahead. The short quiz below can clarify which approach to debt repayment best suits you — keep track of your answers as you go along.

What it means to be a Blowtorch, a Sculptor or a Chiller.



You have big plans professionally and personally that require a solid financial foundation: buying a home, owning a dental practice, traveling, paying for children's education, etc. You want to quickly get to the point where more of your income goes toward things you want and need instead of endless loan payments.


You're focused on establishing yourself as a dentist, growing professionally and setting yourself up for a financially secure future. You have routines in your personal life that you don't want to upend for the sake of faster debt repayment. You're fine with paying the minimum scheduled amounts, at least for the first few years.


An opportunity to wipe out a significant portion of your dental school loans in return for public service is tempting — maybe even irresistible.


Budgeting wisely.

Consider living with your parents or roommates or in a less expensive area. Keep driving your current car or buy a used one. Don't eat out at restaurants too often, go on expensive trips or invest in the newest cryptocurrency. Or, if you do want a lifestyle that's flashier, make sure you're earning enough to afford those expenses while making higher-than minimum loan payments.

Focus on other priorities first.

That block of ice stays cold as it melts on schedule. You're fine with just chilling for now. You have enough on your mind with getting a job, deciding where you'll live and trying to enjoy life after dental school.

Take advantage of a government debt relief program.

Sculpt that ice block of debt into a more manageable shape and size by choosing to practice dentistry in a "health professional shortage area" (HPSA) or in the military. With a few years of service, you can eliminate tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

We're here to make your life easier

Your financial picture can be complicated, whether it's paying your debt or safeguarding your earnings with the right insurance plan. At ADA Members Insurance Plans, offered by Protective, we help dental students and practicing dentists protect their lifestyles and businesses. In fact, that's all we do.

Questions? Talk with an Insurance Plan Specialist at 866-607-5338 for assistance (weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Time) or Email ADAPlanSpecialist@protective.com .