A Dental Success Story
From picking the right dental office design, to creating a business and marketing plan, figuring out how to open a dental office can seem even more overwhelming without someone to guide you through the process. Luckily, our checklist covers everything a dentist needs to know when starting a dental practice from scratch. There's no room for fear here — these 9 steps are all it takes to bring a new practice to life mistake-free!

Starting a Dental Practice Checklist: 9 Steps to a Brand New Practice

When starting a new dental practice, most dentists dive in head first without taking into consideration one simple fact — by opening their practice, they are essentially becoming business owners. Of course, their expertise is a crucial factor and will make or break their career. But if they don't take care of the administrative parts of the business as well, not to mention invest time in the upkeep of the practice, choosing the right staff, and deciding on the right marketing approach, all that effort could be in vain.


Thus, this simple checklist covers the major aspects of how to open a dental office; we'll start with the basics, such as deciding on the budget, and continue right up to getting permits and licenses.


1. Come Up With a Business Plan

Unsurprisingly, learning how to open a dental office has to begin with figuring out a precise business plan. Since you will be a business owner and not just a dentist, it’s important to have a living document that describes each aspect of your business. Otherwise, mistakes can easily happen, which may jeopardize the business before it has even been established.


Since a dental office is a big investment, it's best to opt for a traditional business plan, which is often lengthier and covers the business in minute details. It should include major sections:
  • the executive summary and business description
  • information about products and services
  • budget
  • financial planning.
Since the success of the business also depends on marketing and market research, the plan should cover our marketing strategy and analysis as well.

2. Sort Out the Budget

How to open a dental office that won’t go bust after just a few months? Setting a budget is one of those initial considerations every dentist should make, as it will determine the final result, i.e., how the practice looks and operates in the end. On average, a dental office can cost about $500,000, so having decent capital before starting this venture is a good idea. But even if you don't have enough money from the get-go, there are other options. You could consider opening an office with a partner or applying for a loan with a lender or a bank.

This step may take the longest, as it is the foundation of everything else — getting a lease or buying an office space, purchasing equipment, hiring staff, etc. Because of that, it's necessary to stay patient but not idle; we recommend using this time to do some more research on the right location, the equipment you may need, the employees, and the marketing strategy.

3. Find the Location

Before spending hours pouring over the dental office floor plans, you first need to pinpoint the perfect location. This may prove to be a challenge if you’re looking into an area that is already saturated with practitioners. The location you end up choosing shouldn't be too empty, though; that may pose an issue when trying to acquire more patients.

Research is, once again, your best friend here; you can select a few areas, learn more about them, and visit them to see how accessible they are and if an office there would attract many patients. After that, go ahead and start looking for space that fits well into your budget.

4. Brainstorm Dental Office Design

Don't sign the lease just yet, though! One of the more exciting parts about starting a dental practice is brainstorming the office design. However, not every dentist out there is able to determine the space and layout requirements on their own. You should, of course, take your own expertise into account and create a list of things you need the office to have. But it's a good idea to hire a dental office designer if starting one from scratch. There's definitely more to it than simply buying equipment and all the office supplies; the design has to be cohesive and functional but also eye-catching and professional.

5. Buy the Equipment

Most dentists consider which equipment they want to buy before even thinking of a business plan. When the time comes to buy it, they should already have a clear idea of what they need and what could fit into the office. In case they have a design team to help them out, the process should be easier and practically painless; they will include the equipment into the design and finalize the selection before starting the construction.

While you’re at it, you can determine practice hours and holidays, as well as clinical and office needs. You should think about the supplies, medical waste management service, amenities, software needs, etc. In essence, consider everything that would help your business run more smoothly.

6. Assemble a Team

While the office is being built, you can focus your attention on screening potential employees and establishing a good team. The process may be quick if you only need a receptionist, for instance. But some dentists may also require a dental assistant, an office manager, and even an IT specialist. In either case, the sooner we start the hiring process, the better; you need enough time to sort out the paychecks, benefits, policies, and everything else, legal or personal, that may concern our staff.

7. Think of a Marketing Strategy

An important aspect of figuring out how to open a dental office is making all the arrangements for growth in advance. You don't want to have a grand opening for the staff only — you need potential patients right from the get-go!

The easiest way to get the name of our business out there is to think of a dental marketing strategy. Having a Facebook page is simply not enough anymore — a website is a must these days. Because of that, you might require web design and SEO services to ensure success.

In case there isn't enough room in the budget for it, though, you could start by managing your own social media profiles (but only for the time being!). You could also create a basic website for free — many platforms offer this to total beginners. Once the patients start rolling in, you can always upgrade the strategy into something more comprehensive and professional.

8. Acquire Insurance and Manage Finances

The launch party is close now, so it’s time to do thorough research into the insurance coverage your practice needs. In case you don't know where to start, your lawyer should help guide you through the types that may prove helpful in this line of work, such as professional liability malpractice and business overhead expense insurance.

Other than that, you need to sort out how we'll manage our finances. This doesn't only include setting up different payment methods; it also covers state and federal taxes, as well as acquiring the IRS tax ID number. Once again, hiring a lawyer should make this part of the process easier.

9. Get the Necessary Licenses and Permits

Finally, you will need to get the licenses and permits your practice needs to practice dentistry in the area of your choice. This part of the process may also take some time, as it depends on the state you are in and its laws and regulations to ensure the practice is up to standard. Since all of that requires expertise that not many dentists have, hiring a healthcare attorney that specializes in new dental practices is a good idea.

Start a Dental Practice From Scratch Today

Now that we know how to open a dental office, there's nothing stopping us from joining hundreds of other private practitioners and putting our best foot forward. All it takes to start is a bit of research, proper planning, and having a good idea of how much funding we'll need. The other puzzle pieces should fall into place effortlessly!