Where Should I Start The Process Of Opening My Dental Office?

Things to consider before starting your dental office
Confused about where to start for your start-up Dental Practice?

You’re thinking about or  have already decided to go out on your own, and you’re wondering how to start a dental practice from scratch.

First of all – Congratulations!

You’ve already gotten through making a difficult decision to cross yet another major milestone in your life.

But now you’re scratching your head thinking about where to start.  It’s completely normal to feel this way, but it’s important to not get overwhelmed!

Before you start thinking of details, you need to do some thinking.

 I will go over the steps involved in opening up your dental office in DETAIL in future posts:

  • Location
  • Design & Construction
  • Financing
  • Equipping the Office
  • IT & Technology in the office
  • Staff
  • Dental Insurances
  • Marketing

But for now, let’s think about what you need to consider before you get overwhelmed with all different aspects of starting up a dental office from scratch!

Before I got started with my office, I was an associate for full time between two different offices. I was in my comfort zone – making good income, making only minimum payments on my student loans, paying bills and spending the rest on travel and leisure, trying to live the life I craved as a dental student.

However, I realized I was too comfortable. I was getting bored of referring the surgical and endo cases to the specialty associates within the office. I was trading time for money and realized that no matter how hard I worked, there is going to be a cap on how much I can actually take home.

If I got sick or went on vacation, I made no money. There was no passive income. That’s when I made up my mind to go out on my own – to practice dentistry my way to support the lifestyle I wanted to create for myself.

I want to emphasize LIFESTYLE here. Whatever business you’re in, do it in a way that supports your lifestyle. But what is your lifestyle? This is a question you need to answer for yourself to decide what kind of dream office you’d like to work in.

When starting a new business venture, we tend not to think too far out. You need to think not 2-3 years out, but think what kind of practice you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, or 15 years.

Start by answering the following two questions and write down the answer somewhere:

1) Where do you see yourself working and living?

The initial investment into a dental practice is not small, so think of a place you wouldn’t mind going to for work. You may also want to think about your commute. How far are you willing to commute from where you live.

For instance, if you don’t mind commuting forty-five minutes to an hour each way, then you have more options of where to start looking for opening your first office.

exclamationDon’t forget about your restrictive covenant clause in your existing associateship agreement / contract. Restrictive covenant may restrict you from opening your office in certain number of miles in radius from your associateship.

2) What kind of practice do you want and how big?

Do you want an office where you potentially see multiples associates / specialists working together in a group practice setting?

This is important because you need to know possibly how big of an office you want – 3 ops, 5 ops or 7+ ops? Depending on what you decide, will determine the approximate total square footage you need. I’ll get into details of how much square footage per operatory you need in a future post, but for now start looking for 300-400 sq-ft / operatory.

For instance, if you plan on having seven operatories, you want to start looking for total sq-ft office in range 2100-2800. These numbers are not set in stone, some people may prefer LOTS of open space within an operatory, restrooms or for waiting area.

On the contrary, some may decide to go even smaller than that. All depends on how YOU want to practice. We’ll get into the dental practice design details later in the future posts.


Going out on your own is an exciting venture! It’s ok if you’re a bit nervous. You are an entrepreneur and you must become comfortable being challenged on a regular basis.

Here’s an inspirational quote that I love:

Inspiration Quote by Richard Branson

Don’t try to sprint. Set your mind up as if you’re starting a marathon –  just keep moving ahead at a steady pace!

In the next blog post, I’ll discuss the most important factors you must consider when choosing a location to start your dental office – and dentist to population ratio is not one of them.

Keep reading!