Owning Your Own Dental Practice: Business Advice pt 1

Considering owning your own dental practice? I’ve been asked about running a dental surgery and any advice I could give about the topic. Here’s some of my tips and a few problems I have faced. (For some of the tips I’ve marked where I think it might only apply to Australia.) I also believe some of these things are related generally to all businesses as well, so those have been marked too 🙂

your own dental practice

Buy your own dental practice or start a new dental surgery?  (Business)

Being your own boss does have it’s perks. With dentistry, you get a fair balance of autonomy and ability to schedule things around your own personal schedule. In saying that however, you do have a lot more responsibilities. The buck will always end with you. The greatest perk is the responsibility itself, but that could be stressful for some people so always think about it carefully. Financially – you will be the one investing most into the business, and setting up a dental surgery is very expensive in Australia (plumbing, chairs, equipment – all of these are very expensive.) Practically, I have found buying over an existing dental practice a better pathway. Everything is setup for you and most importantly, the goodwill (clients) are already there. This leads me to my favorite advice, if you do buy over a dental practice, always retain the previous dentists. Patients are loyal to their dentists. Regardless of all the legality involved, it is generally better to retain the dentist at the surgery you take over. The patients appreciate it, they can occasionally see you and transition over time. Honestly, if you are in a good position to, I would simply retain all of them till the other dentists wants to retire. Goodwill is only good if the clients stay (and generally that’s what you pay for.)

Bend over backwards for all your clients.  (Business)

There will be a time when you have to go to work for only a few clients. Do not reschedule these clients ever. I have seen dentists simply ‘move’ the clients to a more fuller day and just skip going into the surgery. Going in regardless means a lot for your staff as well as your patients. You are in a health industry after all and seeing them on the day they expect is better than ‘delaying’ them (especially if they are in pain and stressed!). Your staff will see your dedication to the business, your clients will appreciate it, and you can see what else you need to do there even on quiet days. These are the small things and those clients matter Every single one. Always look after your patients. They will appreciate you for it, and in the long run, they will look after you.  

Do you actually get to holiday?  (Business)


Beautiful holidays? Only sometimes. Work takes priority especially when building the practice.

If you run the surgery alone – it’s harder to get away. Although dentistry has some autonomy, every day you aren’t there is a day you could be seeing clients. You are still paying staff, and all other overheads (costs to keep the place running even when YOU aren’t working). In saying that however, you can always close the surgery for a few days in advance and book around those times. You definitely need a break, dentistry can be very stressful and doing it every day might drive you a bit insane 😛

Whats the the costs in running a surgery? (Business / Australia)

Everything in the dental world is marked high. In order from most expensive to least:

  • Initially all up front costs such as equipment, loans, building premise (the dental chairs, plumbing are costly stuff.)
  • Staff – wages & superannuation do add up
  • Materials – keeping your stock up to date and always having enough materials
  • Laboratory fees
  • Electricity, Water & Gas.

My students have told me to keep this series going and I do intend to. I hope this helps and if you have any questions feel free to shoot them to me on Twitter or Facebook 🙂