Starting a Practice

Starting a Practice

Upon graduation and licensure, there are several practice options available to you. The first big decision you must make is whether you want to become an associate and work for another dental practice, or own and operate your own practice. If you have decided you want to have your own practice, the decision then becomes whether to buy an existing practice or start a practice from scratch. Both have advantages and disadvantages to consider as part of your due-diligence decision-making process.

Starting a practice from scratch is a complicated process with the potential for great rewards, but also many pitfalls and opportunities for errors along the way. It is important to understand the pros and cons of pursuing this path.


  • Starting your own practice offers the opportunity to realize your vision for your practice and your career.
  • You select the location, design the office, develop the office procedures, and hire and train your own staff.
  • You create the image of the practice through your marketing and community efforts.
  • You reap the benefits of your hard work. Starting a practice is not easy, but the rewards are all yours. If you plan well, make sound business decisions, and work hard, the success of your efforts are yours.
  • In short, the practice is yours and reflects your decisions, vision and style.


  • While the practice is all yours, so is the risk. The success or failure of the practice depends on your decisions and your efforts.
  • The process is complicated and long. You must decide everything from where to practice and what equipment to buy to who to hire and how to train them.
  • There are no existing relationships in place. You must cultivate your own contacts with lenders, accountants, attorneys, insurance professionals and financial planners.
  • Lenders are less comfortable when there is not an existing track record and patient base for the practice.
  • There is no patient base. You must build your own through your marketing efforts and community involvement. The practice will have several months with low patient volume, which you must prepare for during the business planning process.
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