According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of dentists in the United States have their own practice. This increases their profits and gives them greater control in setting workdays and hours as well as policies for their business. Opening a dental practice can be expensive though, which is why as a dentist, you should know how to start your own dental practice.
Things You Will NeedDoctorate Degree in Dentistry
Step 1Have a license to practice dentistry. Dentists are required to earn their doctoral degree in dentistry, and then obtain a license before they can begin working as a dentist or start their own practice. The license needs to be obtained from the professional licensing division in the state where the dental practice will be located.
Step 2Obtain enough money to start your own practice. It can be costly to start your own dental practice as there are many pieces of equipment and a variety of supplies you need to serve your patients. There is also the added expense of purchasing or leasing a facility to house your practice. It's important that you create a budget of your expected expenditures in starting your practice, and then find the money to make your budget a reality. You may qualify for small business loans from financial institutions, or you may have to save up the money you need by working as a dentist for a few years under someone else's practice.
Step 3Find a facility to accommodate the needs of your practice. Having a private dental practice requires a few exam rooms as well as an office and reception area. The amount of space required depends on how many dental hygienists and other staff you will employ as well as how many patients you will serve on a daily basis. You can find commercial or office properties to buy through a commercial real estate agent or a commercial developer. Most dentists choose to purchase their facility in order to customize it to their needs and equipment.
Step 4Register your business. Just as with other businesses you are required to collect sales tax on the services you provide if applicable in your area, and you also must pay unemployment insurance for any employees who work at your dental practice. You need to register your dental practice with your state's Department of Revenue as well as your local city or county government. In addition you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the federal level to obtain an employer identification number (EIN), which is used to identify your business.
Step 5Purchase equipment and supplies. There are a number of different pieces of dental equipment you need for your own practice including dental chairs, x-ray machines and teeth cleaning equipment. You also need supplies for your office and reception area such as chairs, computers, phones and an appointment scheduling book or software. When starting your own practice you'll need to buy the dental equipment from a dental supply company while a trip to a local office store should provide you with the office supplies you need.
Step 6Set up insurance payments. You can contract with specific dental insurance companies to accept their insurance in your practice. Most of these organizations have individuals that specialize in helping healthcare providers complete the process to become approved for payment from the insurance company, making it easy for you to become an approved provider.
Step 7Determine your rates and your pay policy. It is a good idea to have some knowledge of the approximate amount it will cost you to run your own practice every month to make sure that you charge enough to cover your expenses and make a profit. You also want to determine in advance what your pay policy is for clients. Do you require upfront payment for services, or do you offer a pay plan?
Step 8Hire dental and office staff. At a bare minimum, your dental practice needs a dental hygienist to clean teeth and a receptionist to answer the phone while you are working with patients. You may want to hire additional hygienists and office staff as well as a dental assistant if you have more patients and more room.
Step 9Promote your practice. With a dental practice belonging only to you, it's your job to get patients in the door by advertising the services you provide. Starting out this may entail advertising in newspapers or on radio and television, but your biggest advertiser can become word of mouth if you build up your practice and your reputation.
Tips & WarningsIf you plan to offer treatment for complex dental procedures such as root canals, bridges or dentures, you need to contract with a dental lab to make the crowns and fake teeth for your patients.
One of the benefits of starting your own dental practice is your ability to set your rates and your hours.