How to Start A Dental Office

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Starting your own dental office really is essentially starting off with a brand new business. In the professional lives of a dentist this decision, while you may have had a vision or it may have been one of your goals for awhile, is one of the biggest career steps you may ever take.

For this reason it is all the more important to begin setting these goals early, and analyzing the costs and benefits of going into the dental business beforehand. Unfortunately these days it’s all too common to see dentists opening a new practice without a basic understanding of what they need to start and make their business fulfill the vision and become successful.

While many dental professional are focused purely on patients and other dental costs right from the start, their business foundation is clearly missing to get the practice on the right foot. Successful practices know the majority of the hard work takes place before you’ve even obtained your first patients. This guide on how to start a dental office should help highlight the key areas you should focus on in the beginning when starting your own dental business.

Decide who’s on your team

In the dental setting that we’re currently living in today, dentists have infinite resources available to them to help get off to a good start. Right off the bat, it’s important to assemble this team of valuable resources to ensure you’ve got all of the bases covered for your future practice.

This team could consist of future employees looking to help with the business foundations; other business with a similar vision that we could learn from, finance specialists to help you evaluate your costs, maybe even a mentor etc. This way you don’t have to feel like all of this weight and pressure is purely on your shoulders. Once you have a team to rely on, you can divvy up the tasks amongst teammates, and most importantly utilize their knowledge, experience, and insight in the field to ask great questions and propel yourself forward.

You never know who on your team could come up with a great lead for quality real estate, or inspire great ideas when goal setting. Each team member is a great asset in their own unique way, but make sure you keep the discussion open to everyone because you might not always know where the best vision may come from within the practice.

Develop your business plan

Now that you’ve assembled your top-notch team filled of expertise, and swimming with experience, it’s time to put all of these minds to good use through the development of your practice’s strategic business plan.

If you remember just one thing from this guide in starting your own dental practice, remember this: the five components that fuel every dental practice behind the scenes. Each of these components should be highlighted respectively in your business plan to find funding.


In this section it’s important to talk about how many treatment rooms your facility will obtain, in which hours you will work, and how you plan on retaining your patients over a long period of time. These are important for funders to see that you have a plan for the long run, not just the initial startup of your business.


Your revenue section will include your estimated number of patients, the rate of growth you expect amongst new patients, as well as dollars per hour. This is where your financial expertise from your power team will come into play helping you assess your financial policy.

Managing Expenses

Predicting your overhead and at which point you’ll break-even is essential for funders to see their payback. Make sure to emphasize how much healthy cash flow you’ll be seeing in order to pay for any bills acquired and debts along the way.


While we may have discussed number of patients, this section will delve more deeply into demographics of patients. Depending on your location your demographic may differ greatly. The technology you invest in, and the type of periodontal program you implement will all be dependent upon this demographic so it’s important to establish this in the business plan.


Future employees are obviously a vital part of your dental practice, but where will you find them? What specific personality traits are you looking for in the hiring process? These are all important questions to ask yourself before obtaining team members.

Through this business plan your lenders get a more thorough idea and further understanding of your goals and vision. This process also shows them that you’ve done your due diligence and research. The more information you show i.e. demographics, location, specific equipment costs etc., the better and more professional your business plan looks which can assure you more financing to get your dental practice off the ground.

Defining your goals

Defining your goals consists of both goal setting, and goal writing, two steps which are often times very overlooked in the scheme of things. However overlooked, this is still a fundamental part in establishing a successful practice.

To give you some perspective, imagine all of the big decisions that need to be made when starting any business. You must decide where you want to live, who’s your main clientele, how much you would like to earn etc. All of these major decisions need a premise in which to be made off of.

Your goals are a perfect outlet in which to base these decisions. Your goals give you an indication of where you will be in the coming years of your career, in order to guide and measure that you’re growing in the right direction.

So before you start your dental business, do yourself a favor and write down these goals. Try out goal setting exercises that line up with your vision. Make sure they’re measurable, easy to obtain, relevant to your business, and something you can keep track of. While you’re making these tough decisions at the start of your practice you can use these goal setting practices to help guide your decisions and make sure you wind up where you want to be.

Revenue Drivers

Without a doubt when it comes to your dental practice, your patients are going to be your #1 factor in driving your revenue. Every businessman knows without clients it doesn’t matter how good of a facility you have or how strong your team is. In order to drive new patients you’ll need to spend a majority of your team’s efforts in the marketing realm.

Not only effort and energy but also financially, external marketing is a chunk of your budget that deserves a fair concentration. The most successful practices see cash flow in the beginning right up front and begin to meet payroll. For many practices it’s beneficial to find an outside patient financing partner who can help you to make the most out of your resources without putting you at risk for your non-paying patients.

It’s also important to remember as a new dental clinic you’ll need to be bringing in about 50-60 new patients every month to keep up with those goals you set and grow optimally.

Once you’ve thought about and put into practice all of the above, in theory you’re ready to hop right in and start your own dental practice. Now in reality, nothing works that easily and it will take your full will and effort to make these dreams become that reality. What other tips would be helpful to assess before starting your own practice? We’d love to hear your experiences!

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