As a dental professional, considering dental practice ownership can be both an exciting and daunting prospect. The journey to becoming a successful practice owner involves various steps, from evaluating your financial readiness to understanding legal regulations. This guide will delve into the complexities of owning a dental practice, offering valuable guidance to aid in making wise decisions.

Overview of Dental Practice Ownership

Dental practice ownership can be fulfilling and financially rewarding, with owners earning an average of $100,000 more per year than employee dentists.

However, ownership has declined from 84.7% in 2005 to 73% due to the growth of Dental Service Organizations (DSOs).

Despite this trend, owning a dental practice offers benefits such as increased earnings potential and autonomy.

Comparing Dental Practice Owners vs Employee Dentists

  • Practice Owners: Have higher earning potential with financial rewards tied directly to business success.
  • Employee Dentists: Have a steady salary but are limited by their employer’s compensation structure.

The Impact of DSOs on Dental Practice Ownership Rates

The rise of DSOs has contributed to the decline in private practices, as younger dentists may prefer affiliating with these organizations instead of pursuing independent ownership.

For those considering independent ownership, it’s essential to understand the business side of dentistry and gain guidance from experienced private practice owners.

For those interested in solo practice, it’s important to understand the business side of dentistry and seek mentorship from experienced private practice owners.

As the dental workforce continues to shift towards younger dentists and more male dentists, the future of private practice ownership remains uncertain.

Deciding to Become a Dental Practice Owner

If you’re considering dental practice ownership, you have three options: 

  • Start your own dental clinic and be your own boss.
  • Buy into an existing partnership and share the workload.
  • Develop a new partnership with other professionals and expand your network.

Considering both options is important; pick the one that works best for you.

Did you know that private practice owners make up the majority of the dental workforce?

  • Associate dentists are becoming more common among younger dentists.
  • Male dentists still outnumber young dentists who are female.
  • Running a solo practice can be challenging, but it’s rewarding to be a business owner.

Remember, private practices are an important part of the healthcare occupation.

Factors to Consider When Contemplating Dental Practice Ownership

Aspiring dental practice owners must assess their personal and professional readiness, including evaluating financial readiness and analyzing professional experience level.

  • Student debt levels among younger dentists may impact their decision to pursue independent practices or affiliate with DSOs.
  • Dental workforce demographics show a shift towards more female and younger dentists, which may impact the traditional model of solo practice ownership.
  • Private practice owners must also have business acumen to manage the financial and administrative aspects of their practice.
  • Associate dentists may have the opportunity to gain experience and mentorship before pursuing practice ownership.

Ultimately, dental practice ownership is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of personal and professional factors.

Planning for Dental Practice Ownership

Proper planning is crucial when transitioning towards becoming an owner-operator within the field of dentistry.

Set clear goals to ensure long-term success, whether it’s expanding your dental practice, increasing revenue, or improving patient satisfaction.

  • Develop effective marketing strategies: Attract new patients by leveraging digital platforms like social media and SEO.
  • Manage staff members effectively: Ensure your team is well-trained and motivated to provide top-notch care.
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends: Keep an eye on the dental workforce and adapt to changes in the market.
  • Consider hiring younger dentists: Younger dentists bring fresh perspectives and can help grow your practice.
  • Don’t overlook male dentists: Despite the growing number of female dentists, male dentists still make up the majority of private practice owners.
  • Consider the benefits of private practice ownership: As a business owner, you have more control over your career and can enjoy the financial rewards of a successful practice.
  • Invest in the right dental billing experts: Either hire a dental billing expert or a trusted dental insurance billing company to reduce claim denials and improve profitability.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Seek advice from experienced practice owners or join a professional organization to connect with peers.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations for Owning a Dental Practice

Don’t get tangled up in legal red tape when pursuing dental practice ownership – make sure you comply with state and federal regulations to avoid potential pitfalls.

Expert legal advice from healthcare occupation law professionals can provide valuable guidance throughout the process.

Acquiring a Dental Practice

When acquiring a dental practice, due diligence is key to ensure future success.

  • Conduct financial due diligence: Review financial statements and assess profitability to make informed decisions.
  • Evaluate patient base and staff dynamics: Analyze demographics and employee satisfaction levels to understand the practice’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Consider the dental workforce: With younger and more male dentists preferring private practice ownership, it’s important to understand the current and future landscape of the industry.
  • Benefits of private practice ownership: Owning a private practice allows for more control over the business and the ability to make decisions as a business owner.
  • Solo practice vs. associate dentist: Consider the pros and cons of owning a solo practice versus being an associate dentist in a private practice.

Acquiring a dental practice can be a great opportunity for those looking to become a business owner in a healthcare occupation.

Succession Planning and Exit Strategies for Dental Practice Owners

As a dental practice owner, planning for succession or developing exit strategies is vital for ensuring smooth transitions when it’s time to retire or move onto new ventures.

Having well-thought-out plans in place can protect both personal investments made into businesses over years spent working tirelessly within them as well as their overall longevity moving forward post-sale/transfer.

  • Developing an effective succession plan: Identify potential successors, train them, and set up legal agreements. 
  • Considering various exit strategy options: Sell the practice outright, merge with another clinic, or transition to a DSO model. 


What percent of dentists own their own practice?

Approximately 75% of dentists in the United States are practice owners, with the remaining 25% working as associates or employees, but this number is decreasing due to the rise of corporate dental practices and Dental Support Organizations (DSOs). 

What is the largest ethical dilemma in dentistry at the moment?

One significant ethical dilemma facing dentistry today is balancing patient care quality with financial pressures, including issues such as overtreatment, undertreatment, and insurance-driven treatment plans that may not prioritize patients’ best interests. 

What is the profit margin of a dental practice?

The average profit margin for a general dental practice ranges from 25% to 40%, depending on factors such as location, patient base size, overhead costs, and efficiency measures implemented by the owner, while specialty practices may have higher margins depending on demand for services. 

What are the assets of a dental practice?

Dental practice assets typically include tangible items like office space, dental equipment, furniture, and inventory, as well as intangible assets such as patient records, practice goodwill (reputation), staff expertise and experience, existing contracts with suppliers or insurance providers, and intellectual property like trademarks or patents. 


Ready to become a dental practice owner? You have options: start your own practice, buy into an existing partnership, or develop a new one. But don’t forget the legal and regulatory considerations, like licensure requirements and partnership agreements. Assess your personal readiness and professional experience before taking the plunge.

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