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How to Start a Dental Practice

by adminjay


Congratulations! You have finally reached the point in your career where you are ready to open your own dental practice.

You may now find yourself wondering… what’s next?

Owning and operating a practice is the ultimate goal of many providers, but it can be tough to know where to start. Let’s break down everything you need to know about starting your own dental practice.

Developing a Dental Business Plan

Before you embark on your new journey, it is important to first develop your business plan. Your business plan will lay out every last detail of the launch – as well as business operations afterwards.

Below are some things that should be in your dental business plan:

  • Your overall budget
  • Personal financial statements/your current cash flow
  • Historical financial analysis
  • Projected earnings and cash flow (for the first 2-5 years)
  • Prospective marketing strategies
  • Cost of marketing
  • Projected overhead costs
  • Demographics
  • Location
  • Staffing (payroll, budget for staff, how many employees needed, etc.)
  • Management tactics
  • Seasonal financial projections

Purchasing an Existing Dental Practice vs. Starting a Completely New Practice

This is perhaps one of the most important decisions you will make when starting your own dental practice.

If you are looking for ultimate personalization and wish to have complete control over every possible detail right from the start, you may benefit from starting from scratch.

If you are looking to save on start-up costs and are okay with making tweaks and changes over the years, you might benefit from purchasing an existing dental practice. Of course, there is much more to consider.

Benefits of Buying an Existing Dental Practice

Below are some benefits of purchasing an existing dental practice:

  • Turn-key practice; open and start practicing as soon as you please
  • Lower overall start-up costs
  • Staff typically comes along with a pre-existing practice; less time spent hiring and training
  • Operatories and x-ray equipment are ready to use immediately
  • Pre-established base of patients; less time and money spent on marketing
  • Access to detailed and recent financial reports (to help predict future cash flow)
  • Turn a profit in less time
  • Pre-established payroll and billing systems

Things to Consider

While purchasing an existing dental practice can be beneficial, there may be a few drawbacks to consider, as well.

There is the possibility that the operatories and/or equipment are outdated or do not suit your needs or wants. If this is the case, you will have to consider the cost of updating or changing things to your liking.

You will likely also have to postpone your opening date until renovations are complete, which might defeat the idea of a “turn-key” dental practice altogether.

It’s also important to consider the services you intend to offer; if you specialize in cosmetic dentistry or dentures, you will want to avoid purchasing a pediatric dental practice, and so on.

If the staff that comes along with your new practice are not quite up to your standards, you will have to invest either in training or re-hiring new staff members. Keep in mind that your staff plays a massive role in how your practice will be perceived; it’s imperative to ensure that your team values the success of the business and has the skills needed to provide treatment to your patients.

Benefits of Starting a Dental Practice From Scratch

Below are some of the most notable benefits of starting a new dental practice from scratch:

  • Complete customization of layout, design, and equipment
  • Develop your own business culture
  • Develop and implement your own business systems
  • Hand-pick your new team of employees

Things to Consider

Below are some drawbacks to starting a dental practice from scratch:

  • Higher startup costs
  • Delayed opening
  • More time and money spent on marketing
  • More time needed to turn a profit
  • Higher financial risks
  • No pre-existing financial reports; unpredictable cash flow

Supplies and Equipment

Whether you take on an existing practice or start a new one from scratch, you will need to ensure that you have the supplies and equipment you need, such as:


The location of your new dental practice plays an immense role in its potential success. Take a look at the immediate area and consider the following:

  • Competition in the local area; an area saturated with other dental offices may not be ideal
  • Accessibility; consider proximity to local highways and public transit
  • Parking; off-street parking is always ideal
  • Target demographics vs. demographics in the area

Licensing and Credentials

This is a crucial step in establishing your new dental practice; it’s best to begin this process as soon as possible, as some aspects can take weeks – or even months.

Certification and Licensure

All practising Canadian dentists must be officially licensed. In order to become a licensed dentist in Canada, you must take and pass examinations given by The National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB).

Licensing requirements and regulations are dependent upon your province/territory. To learn more about the requirements in your specific province, be sure to contact the National Dental Examining Board of Canada.

Laws and Regulations

Make sure that you are familiar with the Canadian dental laws and regulations to fully understand the rights of both yourself and your patients. Each province has its own Dental Regulatory Authority; be sure to check in with your province’s specific regulatory body/association.

Partnering Up

Do you plan to own and operate your new practice on your own, or will you be partnering up with another provider?

When you choose to team up with another provider, you can save tremendously both on start-up costs and the cost of regular operations; this is usually why most new practice owners decide not to go at the process on their own.

While lower costs can of course be beneficial, it’s important to keep in mind that you will have to work with your partner’s needs, wants, and visions for the business. If you would prefer to do things your own way without input from others, you may want to avoid partnering up.

About the Author

Steven Murovannyy is the Director of Marketing for Safco Dental Supply, with 10 years of experience in the dental industry.

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