A Step by Step Guide to Starting a Dental Practice That’ll Thrive

Updated on December 2, 2022
Dental drills and instruments close up

There are over 189,040 dental practices in the country. If you plan on opening your own practice this year, you need a plan for success. Without a strong plan in place, your practice might fail to compete with other practices in the area.

Here are the eight tips you need to consider when starting a dental practice.

With these tips, you can set yourself up for success. As you open a dental practice, the decisions you make in the initial phases can determine your growth in the future. Get competitive and build a practice that won’t blow your budget with these helpful tips today!

1. Know Your Budget

As you gear up to start a dental practice, take the time to consider your budget.

Starting a dental practice can cost a lot more than you might realize. For some practices, start-up costs can reach $475,000. Consider everything you’ll need to open your doors, including:

  • Adjusting your office space (electrical, plumbing, etc.) for dental services
  • Setting up the necessary dentistry equipment
  • Working capital to acquire patients and continue running

If you don’t have that capital on-hand, you might want to adjust your plan. For example, you might want to work for another dentist as you begin saving.

Otherwise, try to calculate an estimate for how much you’ll need to open your doors. What day-to-day operating expenses are you anticipating for the first six months?

For example, you’ll likely want to calculate the cost of:

  • Consultant fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Accountant fees
  • Real estate costs
  • Construction
  • Equipment (computers, X-rays, disposal supplies)
  • Marketing
  • Office furniture

Then, create an emergency fund. If your business doesn’t make a profit as quickly as you hoped, you might need to lean on a nest egg.

Don’t underestimate your start-up costs. Neglecting to consider your budget beforehand could cause financial problems before you even open your doors. 

2. Acquire Funding

Once you know how much you need, you can start gathering the necessary funds to start running.

Take the time to speak with a financial advisor before starting a dental practice. They can give you advice about how to acquire the funding you need.

For example, you might want to look into a small business loan. There are dental office practice loans that you can finance for between seven and 12 years. Make sure to explore different interest rates before making a choice. 

In addition to the interest rate, you should also consider:

  • Loan terms
  • Pre-payments
  • Lender service levels

Don’t make your decision based on interest rates alone. Choosing a longer loan term could reduce your interest rate. Meanwhile, a prepayment option is ideal if lenders see you as an established practice.

For many people, however, requesting a loan can cause added stress. If you’re paying off school loans, you might want to choose another option. 

3. Select a Structure

Before you open a dental practice, you’ll need to form a legal entity. You can choose between different legal structures based on your business goals.

For example, you might want to form an LLC. Establishing your practice as an LLC can keep you from becoming personally liable if someone sues the dental office. 

You can also choose to form a corporation or DBA.

If you have a team of advisors supporting you, consider turning to them for advice about which legal entity to pursue. 

4. Get Licensed

Neglecting to acquire the right permits and licenses can leave you paying off hefty fines. The state might even shut your dental practice down. When starting a dental practice from scratch, don’t want until the last minute to get licensed.

Instead, you’ll need to get a dental license from the right state agency. You can visit the Small Business Administration’s website to determine which licenses and permits you need. 

You might need additional licenses based on the location you plan to practice in. Make sure to check with the town, city, or county clerk’s office. 

It might take time before you acquire the proper licensing. Starting this process as soon as possible will help you avoid potential delays. 

In the meantime, you might want to consider a Certificate of Occupancy and business insurance, too. 

A Certificate of Occupancy will confirm that necessary government regulations, zoning laws, and building codes were properly met. If you plan to lease your office, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to obtain this document.

Business insurance, on the other hand, will help protect your financial wellbeing in case of an incident. 

5. Open a Business Bank Account

Protect your personal assets by opening a dedicated business banking and credit account. Mixing your personal and business accounts could put you at risk in the case of a lawsuit. Instead, separate your assets.

Opening a business credit card will also help build your company’s credit history. If you need to raise funding, this step is crucial. 

In the meantime, make sure you learn how to generate pay stubs to track your finances before hiring employees.

6. Find a Location

When starting a dental practice, you need to consider your location. 

How competitive is the area you’re in? Try to find an area that needs a dental practice. Then, look for an office space that suits your budget.

When choosing a location, make sure it’s accessible and easy to find. Is it close to your target audience? Is there adequate parking space?

Keep these factors in mind as you search. 

7. Gather Equipment and Staff

Once you have an office, you can start gathering equipment. Don’t forget to consider the furniture, software, and supplies you’ll need to operate, too.

Are you opening a practice in an area that’s not designed for dental services? In that case, take the time to make the necessary changes to the office space. 

Next, you’ll need to plan for your staff. Think about their salary, time off, health insurance, and benefits. You might want to start with a small team before growing.

Don’t forget to consult your budget. 

8. Attract Patients

Once everything else is in place, start developing a marketing strategy. Who is your target audience? What services are you offering?

Create an eye-catching, mobile-optimized website for your business. Then, use social media to market your services and start acquiring patients. 

Smile-Worthy Success: 8 Tips for Starting a Dental Practice

Set yourself up for success! With these tips for starting a dental practice, you can open your doors without delay. Make a plan and start meeting your new patients today!

Looking for more helpful tips? Explore the Financial section for more guides for starting your practice today. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.