Starting your own dental practice

What to Consider When Starting Your Own Dental Practice

Do you dream about starting your own dental practice?

You get to be your own boss, offer the services you want, and instill your personality and expertise into a community.

It’s one of the most rewarding ways to leave an impact through your work.  

While it’s an exciting opportunity, getting started is a tough task.

Whether you’re fresh out of school or recently inspired to run your own office, starting your own dental practice is stressful. At times, it even feels overwhelming.

But, by planning ahead of time, you’ll be sure to make the right decision.

Choosing the Right Location

The first step in getting started is choosing the right location.

It starts by researching potential areas and getting to know the environment.

Ask yourself the following questions when beginning your search:

Do the people who live in the area share the traits and values that you do?

Would they come to your practice as a result of that?

Will you be competing with many other dentists in the area?

Is the location convenient for you? Is it too far from home?

You’ll be spending a lot of time in your new space.

Make sure it’s one you’re comfortable with.

Deciding on Payments

The second thing to consider is what style of dental office you want to operate.

There are three notable ways dental offices typically run: insurance-based, fee-for-service, and blended.

Insurance-based offices are just like they sound. They’re supported by patients through insurance plans, which then handles the payments.

These plans often factor in geographical proximity to homes or workplaces of the patients, making your location research even more important.

On the other end of the spectrum, fee-for-service practices don’t deal with insurance plans.

Here, payments are made directly between patient and dentist.

The third option is a blended practice, which takes both patients on insurance plans and those who wish to pay directly.

Both insurance-based practices and fee-for-service practices have pros and cons.

Insurance-based offices often help bring in a steady flow of new or consistent patients, due to plan referrals. However, the insurance plans may cause limitations within your practice.

Fee-for-service allows you more control of your patient relationships, office hours, and meetings, but requires a level of marketing and promotion to bring in patients.

In addition to your own marketing promotions, you’ll be heavily reliant on personal referrals from patients. As a result, you’ll need a high level of care to succeed.

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Starting Your Own Dental Practice from Scratch Vs. Buying an Existing Practice

Once you decide on a location and how you’ll accept payments, it’s time to decide whether to buy an existing dental business or start your own.

Like everything else, each comes with pros and cons.

Buying an existing dental practice is a great way to get started, and often the easiest.

The biggest benefit of buying a dental business is that you are stepping into a prepared environment.

Usually, they come with established workers, patients, and equipment, eliminating the need to find those elements on your own.

It also provides plenty of research opportunities – especially if you’re allowed access to any previous financial records.

At the very least, you can talk to the existing employees to get a feel for the workplace success and culture.

Often, the previous owner can offer you advice and guidance on the location, sometimes even maintaining a presence in the office.

This helps create a smooth transition, guiding you towards success. 

However, one of the biggest struggles with buying a dental office is making it truly feel like your own.

The idea of fitting your personality into a pre-existing culture can be scary, but not as hard as you think.

By working with the former owner and spending time with the staff, you’ll find a smooth way to add your own elements into the office.

On the other hand, starting from scratch lets you automatically lead with your own values and culture.

Everything from your staff to the décor in your office is within your control.

However, starting a new dental practice from scratch is usually more financially challenging.

You’ll need to create a concrete plan before heading to the bank for a loan, along with a detailed list of expected expenses.

The more you can explain why each expense is needed, the better your chances of securing proper financing.

A strong plan also makes the execution of your early business days more organized, increasing your chance at success.

You’ll also need to decide whether to rent or buy a new location.

If you can afford to, buying is generally a better move. You avoid the need to rework future lease agreements, and set yourself up for better retirement opportunities.

The Importance of Socializing 

Whether you’re starting your own dental practice from scratch or buying an existing one, the final key to success is being social.

Networking within your practice’s area offers many great benefits.

For example, if you buy a pre-existing dental office, you’ll need to get the know your new team. 

You’ll learn what worked in the past, as well as discover opportunities for change. In any event, you’ll need your team’s help in shaping your office into one you’re proud of.

Alternatively, if you choose to start from scratch, you’ll need to draw in repeat customers by talking to them, understanding what they’re looking for, and earning their trust.

And, consider finding or starting dental organizations in your area, to talk directly with peers who can offer advice and support.


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The Takeaways

While starting your own dental practice feels like a daunting task, it’s certainly not impossible.

Stay dedicated to your dream, keep researching the area, and communicate with as many people as you can.

Weigh the pros and cons of buying vs. starting your own dental practice from scratch, and create as detailed a plan as possible to set yourself up for success. 

Before you know it, you’ll have a business you can truly call your own.


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