How to Start a Dental Practice – A Step-By-Step Guide to Success

If you’re thinking about starting a dental practice, there are many important things to consider. What are your options and where do you start? What is the risk involved? The cost, funding, office space, staffing, & marketing are some other important considerations.

Proper planning and execution can be the difference between starting a lucrative dental practice or ending up like the 50% of private businesses that fail within the first 5 years.

Here is a step-by-step guide to creating and scaling a successful dental practice.

  1. Consider buying an existing practice

First, decide whether you want to purchase an existing dental practice or start from scratch with your own company.

The main advantage of buying a practice from a retiring dentist is that you are acquiring a fully functioning business. You accrue the brand, the building, the staff, and the clientele.

The disadvantage to buying an existing practice is the price. Additionally, you won’t have the opportunity to start fresh with a new brand. If the company you buy has issues with reputation or profitability, you also inherit all those issues.

If you’re a business-savvy entrepreneur and looking to create a new brand with a unique selling proposition, then starting fresh with your own practice may be for you.

Carefully weight the pros and cons of each option. You could also hire a business consultant to help you determine which option best fits your style & budget.

  1. Write a business plan

Your business plan is an imperative initial step in determining the viability of starting your own dental practice, securing funding, and creating a well-defined roadmap to success.

It should include a summary, company description, market & competitor analysis, organizational outline, marketing plan, operational plan, and financial plan.

  1. Secure your funding

Once you have a strong grasp on the framework of your business model and what it is going to cost you, it is time to receive funding.

Some funding options include an SBA loan, bank loans, self-funding, angel investors, cash advances, and microloans.

Analyze the pros and cons of each loan the interest rates to decide which funding option makes the most sense for your practice. You can speak with a financial consultant to help set you on the right track too.

  1. Fulfill the legal requirements

Dentists will need a dental license from their state. In addition, certain permits and licenses may be needed from your state to operate your dental practice.

You can look up your specific state’s requirements for starting a dental practice by visiting the ADA’s Dental licensure and CE requirements page.

  1. Acquire an office space

First you need to decide whether to rent or buy a space. Consider your finances, current interest rates, and rental rates to determine the most economical solution for your business.

An advantage of buying a space is that you are building equity. This equity can greatly increase the value of your business. An advantage of renting is it allows you to keep your expenses down in the initial phases where capital is so important. It also gives you more flexibility should you want to relocate. 

Whether you decide to rent or buy your dental practice, another important consideration when selecting a building is the location. The best location is going to be one that has lots of traffic and is near other businesses. Also, bigger cities usually offer the most potential for growth.

Additional considerations for selecting an office space are price, square footage, and infrastructure.

  1. Purchase equipment

Now that you have an office space secured, you need equipment. Types of equipment that you will need include medical equipment, dental products, office & IT supplies, and furniture.

  1. Hire your staff

You will need 1 or multiple dentists, technicians, and office staff. Start by asking for referrals – having a close network of great employees with good recommendations is a good place to start. You can also use a staffing agency or website such as LinkedIn or Indeed to help you with your personnel search.

  1. Get clients

Now that you have everything in place, it’s time for the most important part – getting customers.

In today’s digital age, search engine optimization (SEO) is an especially important marketing channel for getting new clients for your dental practice.

The keyword “dentist near me” has a monthly global search volume of 2.49 million, and it’s important that your website is showing up in front of customers in your target location. Search engine optimization (SEO) is how you get there.

Whether you implement marketing in-house or outsource it, one thing’s for sure – your marketing efforts can make or break your dental business, and search engine marketing is especially important.

  1. Implement

Now that you have a well-oiled machine, it is time to implement. Providing top-notch customer service will ensure a positive brand reputation and that your clients keep coming back to you as repeat customers.

Any new business comes with its struggles, especially in the first few years. Work hard to keep your customers and employees happy by leading by example.

If something isn’t working, adapt and fix it. If something is working great, allocate more resources toward it.

  1. Scale

Once you have proven your business model and profitability, you should consider expanding into new locations. Hire new dentists, rent or buy new buildings, and implement new marketing campaigns for those new areas. Use what you’ve learned from your first location and transfer profits, resources, and knowledge into new locations.

Slow and steady wins the race, but before you know it you will be managing multiple successful dental practices.


Starting a dental practice can be a very lucrative business when done right. Start by considering whether to buy an existing practice or starting from scratch. Then, write out a detailed business plan, fulfill legal obligations, and secure all your resources. Once you have operations in place, it’s time to get new customers with an effective digital marketing campaign. Work hard to keep your existing customers coming back & your employees happy. Once you’ve proven your concept, you can scale to open more offices.

Interesting Related Article: “What You Need To Know About Dental Office Leases