How to Start a Dental Office

Whether you're opening your first dental practice or you want to establish another office, you'll need preparation, dedication and an infusion of start-up capital to get started. You need a waiting room for your clients; a treatment room; dental equipment; a laboratory; administrative staff to keep assistants, patients and hygienists organised; and much more. Managing your own dental practice is not only a challenging venture but a highly rewarding one.

Secure a location for your dental office. A dentist can effectively operate in 36 to 60 square feet of space, according to the website However, some practices may need a separate 24 square feet just for equipment such as compressors, suction pumps, chair setups and X-ray processing. The Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines require an office to have a 35-square-foot vestibule and 20 square feet for office personnel and utility storage.

In addition, consider the amount of space you'll need for break rooms, private offices and a dental lab. As your dental practice begins to grow, the space needs to be able to accommodate the changes. Consider starting your dental office in a location near other service providers, close to your home or in an urban setting where clients can come to your office for appointments during work hours.

Purchase dental equipment once you have signed a mortgage or lease for your new office space. Compare prices for both used and new tools and equipment. You'll need irrigation equipment and a full lighting/chair rig for each patient room. Add a CAM/CAD set-up if you want to use your computer for a laser system, X-ray equipment, chair-side tools and lap equipment.

Oversee local contractors and office installers whom you have purchased large pieces of dental equipment from. Choose contractors who are well experienced in all aspects of an office renovation. This person should be an expert in electrical, plumbing, construction and carpentry work. Contact other dentists in the area for references, if needed. Find out whom they use for plumbing outlets for dental chairs, constructing office cabinetry and other projects.

Obtain permits and licenses from your state's professional licensing board and small-business division. Many states require these documents to be put on display in your office. Post your dental degree, anaesthesia permits, state license and certifications of your professional staff, in addition to the required occupancy licenses. Purchase insurance coverage for your staff, theft, fire damage and malpractice. Consider adding an umbrella policy to your insurance after discussing it with your insurance broker. This addition to your policy covers areas of risk not included in your insurance plan.

Order supplies from a reliable dealer that ships and delivers in bulk. Establish an ongoing relationship with a supplier so you can reorder items such as hand tools, protective gear, syringes, drills, model-making moulds, anesthetic agents, bibs, cotton rolls and other essentials.

Advertise your new dental office, if needed. Mail out flyers with coupons for first-time cleanings. Advertise in the local newspaper and online to build your client base.


Contact local and national dental associations for financial and business resources to help start your practice.


Laws regarding businesses in the health industry vary from state to state. Hire a lawyer to assist you in starting a dental office.

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About the Author

Lucy Bowles is an avid freelance writer from Indianapolis. She has written for various websites since 2009. As a certified paralegal Bowles has worked in the areas of business, intellectual property and entertainment law. She has a bachelor's degree in history and a minor in legal studies from Indiana University.

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