How To Open A Dental Practice

If you’re a dentist looking for more independence and a bigger paycheck, starting your own dental practice may be on your mind. While practice ownership among dentists is declining, it still offers you the opportunity to shape your business according to your vision. Not only does a successful dental practice provide financial stability and growth, but it also offers independence, flexibility, and control.

Why Start a Dental Practice in 2023?

Launching your own dental practice offers four main benefits: independence, flexibility, control, and financial opportunity. As a practice owner, you can create a better experience for your patients, spend more time with your family, diversify your investment portfolio, or even upgrade your living arrangements. Besides, being a business owner allows you to develop a different skill set and offers opportunities for personal growth.

The Risks of Launching a Dental Practice

While owning a dental practice can be rewarding, it also comes with significant risks. You’ll be investing a substantial amount of money and potentially accumulating debt. Therefore, it’s crucial to set up your practice for success from day one. Falling behind your goals could put your business and your employees’ livelihood at stake. Additionally, you’ll be leaving behind the security of a guaranteed paycheck and benefits from your current practice.

However, don’t let the risks deter you. The payoff of owning your own practice is worth it. Use the uncertainty as motivation to thoroughly research and plan to ensure success.

Decisions to Make When Starting a Dental Practice

Before launching your dental practice, there are several key decisions you’ll need to make:

Should You Partner Up or Go-It-Alone?

Deciding whether to be the sole owner or have a partner depends on your circumstances. Partnering with another dentist can help you pool resources, maximize skill sets, and grow your patient base more quickly. However, it also means sacrificing some control and navigating the challenges together. Consider your preferences and analyze the feasibility of your practice before making a decision.

Should You Start a New Practice or Buy an Existing One?

Starting a practice from scratch isn’t the only option. Buying an existing dental practice can provide the benefits of business ownership while saving time and effort. With an established practice, you inherit a client base, marketing strategy, and equipment. You can still put your stamp on the practice by making improvements and implementing your own ideas. Keep in mind that purchasing an established practice may come with a higher upfront cost, requiring careful consideration.

What Equipment and Space Do You Need?

Consider the necessary medical equipment for your practice and budget accordingly. If you’re buying an existing practice, assess the equipment’s condition and plan for any necessary upgrades. Additionally, determine the space requirements for your practice. According to, estimate around 300 to 400 square feet per treatment room. Factor in the cost of space, renovations, and necessary layout adjustments.

Should You Rent Office Space or Buy a Building?

Decide whether renting office space or purchasing a building suits your needs. Renting offers flexibility, while owning provides freedom and potential long-term investment. Consider factors like location, costs, and local real estate trends to make an informed decision.

How Much Money Do You Need to Start?

The ADA estimates that the average dental startup requires an investment of around $500,000, including expenses for construction, equipment, and additional funding. However, your specific needs may vary based on practice size, real estate market, and other factors. Create a detailed breakdown of anticipated expenses and establish a first-year budget accordingly.

How Will You Fund Your Startup?

Most dentists need financial assistance to start a dental practice. Consider various funding options:

  1. Self-funding: If you have personal savings or assets, self-funding your practice is an option.
  2. Bank loans: Many banks offer small business loans designed for startups. Provide collateral and a detailed business plan to qualify.
  3. Investment from friends and family: Secure investment from friends and family if you are unable to secure sufficient funds from a bank.
  4. Grants: Explore grants provided by government agencies and non-profit organizations.
  5. Partnerships: Partnering with another dentist can provide better funding opportunities and improved services.

Each funding option has its own risks and rewards. Consult a financial advisor to develop a funding strategy that suits your unique situation.

What Staff Do You Need?

Determine the team members you’ll need to run your practice smoothly. Besides dentists, consider hiring a receptionist, assistants, and administrative staff. Calculate the average salary for each position and incorporate it into your personnel budget. A well-planned team will contribute to the success of your practice.

How Will You Attract Patients?

Marketing is essential for your new dental practice. Consider creative strategies to raise your profile, reach your target patients, and grow your sales. Invest in a mobile-friendly website, optimize your Google Business Profile, and explore online advertising as well as traditional methods like local magazines, outdoor advertising, and event sponsorships. Work with a dental marketing agency experienced in growing practices to maximize your marketing budget effectively.

Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a Dental Practice in 2023

To successfully start your dental practice, follow these steps:

Step One: Market Research

Thoroughly research your market to ensure that it can support your practice. Analyze demographics, location options, and competition. Understand the needs and preferences of your target audience. Consider hiring a practice broker to gain expert insights into the market. Your research will form the foundation of your business plan.

Step Two: Create a Business Plan

Develop a comprehensive business plan that addresses all aspects of your practice. Include an executive summary, company description, market analysis, management team, services, marketing and sales strategies, funding plan, and financial projections. Seek professional assistance to ensure accuracy and clarity in your plan.

Step Three: Preparing to Launch Your Practice

Assemble a knowledgeable support team including a dental CPA, attorney, and practice broker. Begin your location search, secure funding, finalize lease or purchase agreements, and set up your business structure. Obtain the necessary insurance coverage and complete other administrative tasks, such as obtaining a phone number and setting up utilities. Ensure that your practice is ready to welcome patients.

Step Four: Opening the Doors to Your New Dental Practice

Hire qualified employees and provide necessary training. Set a grand opening date and plan launch marketing campaigns to create awareness. Execute your marketing strategies, making use of both traditional and digital channels. Ensure that all aspects of your practice are in place and ready for operation.

Is 2023 the Year You Start Your Dental Practice?

Opening a dental practice requires dedication, thorough planning, and a strong support team. If you’re ready for the challenges and rewards of business ownership, start preparing today. Surround yourself with experienced professionals, conduct market research, and create a compelling business plan. With the right strategies and implementation, you can turn your dream of owning a successful dental practice into reality.

Make You Smile is here to support you on your journey to opening a dental practice. Good luck!