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How to Start a Dental Practice

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Leading your own dental practice can be intimidating but incredibly rewarding. There are many things to consider while you’re getting started, including your business plan, marketing, finances, and forming your team. It’s also essential that your new practice has an online presence in today’s digital world.

Even though there’s a lot of planning and preparation involved, many people go on to run successful dental practices. As long as you set realistic and actionable goals, seek guidance where you need it, and plan ahead, you too can be one of those success stories. Here are some important first steps you should take.

Plan Plan Plan!

The first thing you need is a well thought out business plan. The way you structure your business influences how your clients perceive your practice, your day-to-day operations, and how you will position yourself among your competitors. Below is a list of steps you should be prepared to take:

  1. What is the name & location of your practice? You should pick a name that accurately describes your brand and doesn’t conflict with the kinds of services you provide.
  2. Describe your business. This will include your history, mission statement and business objectives. These are important because they communicate the purpose of your business, inform of strategy as well as provide measurable goals and objectives for your dental practice. 
  3. Outline your partners (if applicable). Unless you choose a sole proprietorship business model, you are likely in a partnership or corporation, make sure you outline your partners and their roles in your business.
  4. What legal documents do you need? What licenses do you need? Are there any permits or deeds required for your location?
  5. Insurance. What kind of insurance do you need?
  6. Market research & business potential analysis. Who is your target market and how will you reach them?
  7. Competitive analysis. Who are your competitors and what are they doing? How do you make yourself stand out from them?
  8. Join a dental association. Dental associations provide resources and support to members.

What Do You Offer?

There are a lot of dental practices out there, especially if you’re in a big city. Why should people in your area choose your dental practice? Being able to confidently answer this question is what will set you apart from your competitors. 

You should be able to communicate to your target market the value of choosing your practice, why are you unique?

Man making calculations with a tooth on his desk

Money Matters

You have all of the dental and clinical expertise you need to be a great dentist, but you must understand the business and financial side of things when opening your own dental practice. Making realistic financial projections is a good starting point, as the average new dental practice costs $600,000 to get started. You should calculate:

  • A realistic estimate of your startup costs
  • Any ongoing expenses
  • Allow yourself room for any unexpected expenses
  • Financial management before and after your practice is open


Strong marketing is fundamental to a company’s success, so you should start marketing as soon as you can. Without proper marketing from the start, you diminish your opening and delay your future success. Some questions you should ask yourself:

  • How will I get my name out there?
  • Do I want to invest in a marketing team?

When marketing your new dental practice, you should also consider your sales strategy. 

It’s okay to have fun with your marketing! Creating a brand allows you to build relationships with your clients which helps attract loyal customers. Create a brand that feels authentic to the type of practice you plan to build.

Additionally, get yourself on the map! Establish your practice in the online world by creating social media accounts, as well as your business account on google. If all of this is starting to sound a little intimidating, don’t worry. SmileShop can help! 

Pick Your People

Now that you’ve developed a business plan and started thinking about marketing, you need to start building your team. Get an idea of how many employees you will need and what it will be like for them to work at your practice. 

You can’t run your practice on your own, you have to find a team that fits in with the brand you’ve created and hold the same values for your patients. How will you make sure you find people who are the right fit? Once you hire them, how will you provide training so that they feel supported?

Around the Office

Time to stock your practice with all of the tools and equipment you need for success. Where will you get your equipment from? Fun fact, did you know we are Patterson’s preferred digital marketing agency?

You also need to think about what type of computers and software your team will use to serve your clients, and what kind of furniture you will use to furnish not only your waiting area but your examination rooms as well. 

You should go out of your way to make your patient’s experience so memorable that it leaves a lasting impression on them. From the front desk to the paint on the walls, the room decor, and the overall atmosphere of your office, everything should be carefully arranged to provide your patients with a positive experience.

Getting Started

There is a lot to consider when starting your own dental practice, it’s important to be patient. Experts say it usually takes anywhere from 6 months to 1 year to start a new dental practice, so don’t get discouraged. If you need any help with building your dental practice, we can help. We work solely with dental businesses and understand the challenges that you might run into. Book a demo with us today to learn about any of our services, or to seek help with your marketing as you start this new venture!

Written by Shaila Kanji

Shaila (or as we call her, Shy) is one of the Marketing Directors at SmileShop Marketing. Bringing her experience in digital strategy using a data-centric approach, she thoughtfully considers current marketing performance when making recommendations for her clients. When not working on something cool and exciting at SmileShop Marketing, you can find Shy planning her next trip abroad, checking out the latest restaurants with her hubby, or playing with her adorable puppy, Kyoto.

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