Opening a dental practice in the UK can be a complex process. There are a lot of rules and regulations that need to be followed and legal obligations that must be covered, especially if you’re planning on taking NHS patients as well as private ones.
Before you can get started, you will need a license issued from either the General Dental Council (GDC) or your local council’s Trading Standards Office – all UK Dentists are required to register with the GDC. You may also wish to register with your local Health Authority – but this isn’t a requirement.
Having a business plan and costings worked out before you start is crucial. You need to look at the potential locations for your practice, the amount of footfall and potential registrations, the cost of the machinery and tools required to kit out the premises, and the costs of the disposables and everyday usage items (such as Personal Protective Equipment [PPE], sanitary and hygiene consumables, etc.).
You will need to consider what sort of practice you’re planning on running and what services you will be offering. Some procedures (such as ‘cosmetic’ ones like teeth whitening or veneers) are not covered by the NHS, so you need to decide if you’re going to be a completely ‘Private’ dentist or if you’re going to offer preventative dentistry as well.
The type of services you’re planning on offering will naturally impact the space requirements of the practice, as well as the dental products you need. Determining what you’re offering and whether you’ve got plans to branch out in the future is going to play a huge role in your initial decisions.
This will also affect your staffing decisions. You’re going to want to work with skilled individuals, who are capable of performing dentistry to the highest possible standards, and who are capable of working with the tools and machines you’re planning on bringing in. You’re also going to want a front-of-house (reception) team that understands people, can upsell products (if you’re planning on offering items for sale), and who can handle a high-pressure environment.
Once you’ve made firm decisions regarding the type of practice you’re opening and the services that you’re offering, you need to make the best decisions for the dental products you’re going to need – and whether you’re going to sell any of the items (such as toothbrushes, mouthwash, etc.) or just making use of them in practice.
What Sort of Dental Products will You Need?
Regardless of whether you’re operating privately for cosmetic purposes or offering preventative dentistry, your practice will need sufficient:
· PPE for Staff, including disposable gloves, masks, aprons
· PPE for Customers, including bibs, towels, seat covering, goggles
· Medical Accessories, including swabs, cotton balls, wipes
· Cleaning Products, including Disinfectants, soaks, drips
· Medical Implements, including Tweezers, mouth props, mirror handles, retractors, scissors
· Impression Products, including Trays, adhesives, tray cleaners, polyether, and pastes
Then, depending on the services you’re offering, you might need to look at purchasing:
· Machinery, including X-Ray Machines, lab equipment
· Surgical and Implant products
· Whitening and Cleaning tools
· Finishing and Polishing tools
This is just a short list of the types of dental products you might need in your surgery, and being able to obtain them promptly, at reasonable prices, and with reliable frequency is vital for the success of your practice.
Whether you run privately or take on NHS patients is a choice that you need to make – balancing out the costs and the pros and cons of doing so. But given the state of many UK waiting lists for existing practices, there is a proven need for more NHS accepting practices – and offering these services does guarantee a certain income.
Setting up your practice may not be straightforward; it requires a lot of careful thought and consideration, understanding of who your customers are (and what they need), and whether you’re in a position to offer a range of services that the people in your chosen area require.
Customers will come to you with issues that range from simple to complex, and the reputation and success of your practice depend on how well you meet their needs.
Working with a dental products supplier who understands what you need and when and can provide you with the best quality for the best price – will save you a lot of hassle in the future, as you will be able to rely on their products, service, and speed of delivery.