How to start your own dental practice

After graduating from dental school, many new dentists go out and start up their own dentist office. This lets them earn more money early in their careers and provides them the flexibility to make their own hours and off days. But opening a dentist office is an expensive venture, and if done improperly can be a large financial mistake. Take the task step by step to make sure you don't overlook any obstacles and can open your dentist office smoothly.

Obtain your dentistry license, if you have not already done so. You will have to do this after your get your doctorate in dentistry, and you will have to receive the license from the state in which you plan to work. Contact your state's licensing division to find out where and how to get your license.

Obtain start-up capital. You can do this by acquiring a small business loan from a bank, finding investors willing to loan money to you or by working in someone else's dentist office while saving up the money.

Find a good location. Seek out areas that are developing or have a shortage of dentists. Make sure the cost is within your price range and the size of the office is suitable for the amount of business you want to bring in. You can rent, though many dentists choose to purchase their location and have the freedom to customise it to fit their needs.

Register your office with the U.S. Department of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service. You will receive an employer identification number and be expected to collect sales tax on your sales and pay unemployment insurance for your employees.

Purchase your dental equipment and supplies. Not only will you have to buy X-ray machines, tooth cleaning equipment and dental chairs, but you will also have to buy computers for receptionists, cameras, reception-area furniture and office supplies. Purchase your specialised equipment and supplies from a dentistry retailer. You can get everything else needed from an office supply store or furniture company.

Contract with insurance companies to be able to work with them. The more insurance companies you contract with, the more potential customers you have. These insurance companies want your business, too, and will help you get approved to work with them.

Hire employees, including hygienists, dental assistants and receptionists. Make sure your employees are well-qualified and trustworthy. If you are unsure of how many employees to hire, start small: it is easier to grow than downsize, and it will take a while for your office to maximise its business.

Promote your office. Advertise in local publications and put signs along streets. Offer specials to new customers to drive traffic. You may even consider radio or television advertising, if you can afford it.

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About the Author

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

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