Buying an Existing Dental Practice vs Starting Your Own: What is the Best Option?

When it comes to building a practice, a lot of dentists are faced with the same dilemma. Should they start their own practice from scratch or make an acquisition? The arguments for both sides can be compelling, and knowing which option is the best can be daunting. In either case, operating a practice is a serious investment, and the decision you take will have a direct effect on the rest of your career. Let’s take a look at both options in detail and see which one would be the best depending on your needs, expectations, and objectives.

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Starting From Scratch

There are some benefits to starting your own practice. For one, you start with a clean slate and you can build an organic relationship with your clientele. You also get to decide where you build your practice.

You can also build your own practice’s culture. This is very important. Some like to have a more family-oriented practice, while others might prefer a more professional approach. With an acquired practice, switching the culture might not be an option and could cost you some clients.

The Drawbacks of Starting from Scratch

Starting from scratch means that you’ll need to make a significant initial investment. You will also need to start building your own clientele, which can be a challenge. And case acceptance might be lower until they actually trust you for procedures. Not to mention the costs of training staff and coordinating with multiple suppliers.

Buying an Existing Practice

When you buy an existing practice, you start with an existing client base, equipment, staff, and established systems. When acquired the right way, you could start making a profit from your very first day. You’ll also incur much less debt when acquiring a practice.

What to Watch out For When Acquiring a Practice

A lot of people will assume that buying an existing practice is a low-risk venture. But there’s a huge difference between buying a successful practice and buying just any practice. This is why it’s important that you run a thorough independent analysis when making an acquisition.

You should also consider working with a reputable broker which will have access to a wide variety of practices for sale. Services like Retiring Dentist are a perfect example. They will do some of the prospecting for you first and will connect you with successful practices that will allow you to get up and running from day one.

However, no matter how successful the practice is, you have to be ready to lose some clients. It is very common for practices to lose around 10% to 20% of their clientele when switching ownership. You might also lose some staff. But, making sure that you stay aligned with the practice’s brand and culture will help for a smooth transition, and will allow you to retain most of your staff while continuing the relationship clients had with the previous owner.


When it comes to operating a practice, both options have their benefits and drawbacks. So, make sure that you look at both from as many angles as possible, and see which one would be the best fit for you.

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