The Ultimate Guide to Running a Dental Practice


dental practice

When you think about how to run a dental practice successfully, you may focus on being a skilled dentist. Obviously, being great at your practice is important but most other oral health facilities can provide skilled workers. There are over 180,000 dental offices in the United States. So, what are you doing to ensure your office is your clients’ first pick?

There are a lot of gimmicky ways to get patients in your doors, but let’s take a look at what you can do to make them stay.

Evaluate Your Service Selection

Modern dentistry involves much more than cleaning, fillings, and the occasional extraction. Many patients are interested in modern cosmetic dental treatment options and are putting their trust in you to perform the procedures safely. Here are a few alternative services your patients might ask for:

  • Teeth Whitening Treatments
  • Tooth Gem Attachments
  • Porcelain Veneers/ Dentures
  • Enamel Bonding/ Abrasion
  • Dental Implants

Tooth Bleaching

When it comes to nominal procedures, you will find that correcting the appearance of stained teeth is at the top of most people’s lists. Your patients often ask for teeth whitening because it is a fast and simple way to improve the look of their teeth.

Gems and Tooth Bling

You may have an idea of how to run a dental practice based on the facilities around when you were in school. However, fashion trends and modern culture have started to bleed into the dental industry and change the game. Tooth gems are one example.

Adding bonded gems to teeth is a relatively new fashion trend and one that patients can receive through outside sources. Typically, Swarovski crystals are used in the mouth, but some people have no idea what is in the adhesive they are putting on their teeth.

When gems are improperly applied they can lead to a choking hazard, difficulty chewing, or tooth decay. Providing this service in your office reduces the risk of your patients damaging their teeth at the hands of amateurs or even themselves.

Porcelain Veneers/ Dentures

Anyone who knows how to run a dental practice is aware of the use of porcelain veneers. They can cover severely chipped and deformed teeth to create natural, beautiful alternatives. However, modern trends like having elongated fangs can also be achieved through the use of veneers.

Dentures are another option for those with severely damaged teeth. This requires extracting the broken teeth, but it may be a better alternative for patients who have severe damage.

Enamel Bonding and Abrasion

Patients with severe staining on their teeth may be disheartened to learn that bleaching can’t help them. However, an important tip for how to run a dental practice is to always do everything you can to make your patient happy – like offering enamel micro-abrasion and enamel bonding.

Enamel micro-abrasion has become particularly popular due to the endorsement of online celebrities showing off the power it has to remove dark, deep stains from their teeth. If you offer bonding or abrasion, patients will have extended choices to improve the appearance of their teeth and will likely boost your notoriety thanks to social media and word of mouth marketing.

Dental Implants

Though most agree that dental implants are necessary for some people’s quality of life, the procedure is considered elective by insurance companies. That shouldn’t keep you from offering the service to your patients. Implants can help restore someone’s life to normal after battling gum disease, losing teeth to decay, or suffering from a traumatic injury.

Offer Alternative Payment Options

Most group health providers tend to offer dental insurance at an affordable rate, but private insurance isn’t as kind. Many potential patients can’t afford pricey dental insurance and assume there are no other payment options available to them.

Consider implementing a customer-focused payment plan program to incentivizes dental visits for the uninsured. Another option is to offer lowered prices to low-income families, veterans, teachers, and other groups.

group health providers

Though one aspect of how to run a dental practice is finding ways to make money, it is important to remember that patient care should also remain a priority. The use of payment plans and discounts helps create a positive light around oral health in your area which is great for both your practice and community.

Prioritize Customer Service

Procedures aside, customer service is one of the most important factors patients consider when choosing a healthcare provider. If you can’t make your customers feel appreciated and prioritized, they are likely to look for oral health care elsewhere.

To focus on customer service, make sure all the employees in your facility take regular training to remind them of appropriate ways to handle customer conflict. This training should also focus on emotional skills like empathy and situational awareness.

It is also important to make conversations with clients focus less on payment and insurance and more on their needs. Starting conversations with questions about money can make patients feel like you see them as a dollar sign rather than a person.

Update and Improve Your Building

You can offer great service and all the best procedures and still, a dirty, broken building will scare away most of your patients.

If you want to know how to run a dental practice that looks inviting, consider touching up the paintwork to remove chips and improve the color scheme of the building. Consider implementing a green color scheme, which has been shown to improve anxiety levels and create a relaxing atmosphere.

Basic maintenance of your dental office should also be a top priority. Keep the area clean and sanitized to protect your patience from spreading illnesses. Ensure all facilities are in working order and repair issues quickly if they arise.

It is a good idea to have a trusted plumbing expert on call in case of an emergency.

Here are some areas you may want to focus to upkeep efforts:

Security Features

Keep your employees and patients safe through the utilization of proper security measures. Install a panic button and use CCTV cameras to improve your facility’s safety.

Curb Appeal

The outside of your building should look just as nice as the inside. You want to draw people in with the appearance of a high-end, clean environment. Try installing beautiful lawn features like topiary, gardens, or fountains.

Computers and Tech

Sure, technology can be expensive, but keeping up with current systems and devices can give patients the confidence that you are giving them the most modern service available. Also, keeping up with software and device advancements means you can utilize technical supports services that may not be available for outdated technologies

Marketing Materials

Marketing is a top tip for how to run a dental practice. You offer a service everyone needs, so let them know it.

G beyond business cards and newspaper ads and find your future clients where they exist. Consider implementing a marketing campaign that consists of signs, email content, a website, radio spots, billboards, and more.

Modern advertising has nearly limitless opportunities for you to reach your audience.


Are your patients still sitting on cold, hard, plastic chairs? Give them a little upgrade to cozier seating. Try a couch or plush sofa chairs. This will create a more intimate look in your waiting room and help lower client anxiety.

Pest Control

The last thing you want in your dental practice is a pest infestation. There is hardly any coming back from the rumor that your dental office is overrun with bugs. Regular evaluations from a specialist can ensure that such a problem never arises or quickly squash it if necessary.

Structure and Roof

No matter what kind of building you are in or what service you provide, you should always be aware of the state of your facility’s structure and roof. That is because if either fails, there can be devastating results to you or anyone else in the building.

Keep Patients Cozy

Studies show that nearly 75% of Americans have some level of fear of the dentist. They might be worried about the cost of services or the pain of certain procedures. No matter the cause, your waiting area can actually help relieve some of this stress.

To understand how to run a dental practice that caters to patients, consider what you would want in a doctor’s waiting area.

Keep the area temperate and physically comfortable through the use of a good air conditioning system, cozy seating, and warm lighting.

A few amenities you should consider providing your patients include:

  • Television: Let your patients take their mind off their stress by keeping the television on family-friendly, entertaining stations.
  • Magazine or Books: Some patients will prefer to read as a form of entertainment. Have a varying selection of magazines or coffee-table style books for them to choose from.
  • Safe Area for Children to Play: Keeping children calm before dental work can be hard enough, so don’t force parents to keep them still as well. Stock up a safe play zone where kids can release their nervous energy.
  • Interesting Wall Art: Avoid cliche art of dental procedures or before and after photos. While you may be proud of the work you’ve completed, these photos can add to the anxiety patients feel.
  • Educational Materials: You don’t want to push graphic materials into the face of clients, but providing educational material can give patients a way to understand what will be happening to them. The materials are also a great way to show patients what cosmetic procedures are available from your office.

Learn to Educate

When it comes to how to run a dental practice, it is important to focus on educating your patients in the art of oral health maintenance and the value of dental care. Proper education can improve client retention and create patients who care about the state of their health.

Informed patients are far more likely to seek out dental treatment, avoid canceling appointments, and refer others to your practice. All of which are great for your growth.

Properly education can also prevent complaints based on misinformation or misunderstandings, which can boost your rankings on search engines or review pages.

Consider Partnering with an Orthodontist

When it comes to cosmetic dentistry, there is an endless wave of potential patients who simple want straight teeth. In the past, these people would often pass up straightening their bite due to the social stigma surrounding metal braces.

Fortunately, time has altered the opinion of braces and many adults are now seeking them to repair their crooked smiles.

Alternative styles of teeth straightening, like Invisalign, has also helped to spark an interest in these services. So, how do you keep from missing out on clients who are seeking strictly orthodontic services? Create a partnership.

Begin networking with a local orthodontist who does work you can stand behind. Build a relationship with them where referrals can begin going both directions. This is beneficial to both of your businesses and offers opportunities for cooperative marketing ventures.

Create and Maintain a Website

whether you want to know how to run a dental practice or any other business venture, you need a website to be successful. Most Americans use online search engines to find the services they seek, including health services. By creating and maintaining a website, you provide your business with an increased opportunity to be discovered by those seeking dental care in your area.

To boost your rankings in search engine results, fill your website with accurate, relevant content. This helps your website become filled with keywords that match a variety of common search phrases used by potential clients.

Your website is also a great place to list your services, provide contact information, inform clients of payment procedures, and educate your audience on the importance of good oral hygiene.

Statistics have shown that companies that build and maintain a website have between a 15%-50% growth in business. Couple that with the fact that many companies offer easy website templates to make the process simple, and there is no reason not to build a website.

Final Thoughts

Researching how to run a dental practice is a great first step in improving your facility. Taking the time to self-assess is vital to client sustainability, but implementation is how you take things to the next level.

Whether you opt for one or all of the suggestions in this list, you can rest assured that you are making changes that will help boost your notoriety and exponentially grow your patient list.

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