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How To Start Your Practice

Know Your Needs

When deciding to set up an independent dental practice the basic requirements are knowledge, equipments, instruments and a large number of patients. To fulfill these, you have to find the right location for your clinic e.g. near residences or schools.

To succeed in independent practice, take note of the three factors in selecting the right location:

  • Personal Needs
  • Economic Potential
  • Professional Desirability

Personal Needs


  • Anticipate the lifestyle you intend to live after a decade or two. Analyze whether it will be possible to practice in the aforesaid locality.
  • Observe the communities living in the localities around. Your professional success depends on how acceptable you are to the locals.
  • Opportunities for getting patient significantly increase, if recreational and educational centers are present in the vicinity of your clinic.
  • An urban area offers more opportunities to succeed than a location in rural area.
  • Places of worship offer a fertile ground for network and social contacts.
  • Select a location with weather suitable to you and your family.

Economic Needs

Observe the demand for a dentist in an area. A dental clinic with a retired or aged dentist will need for a new dentist in the long run. If you are planning to set up a clinic, large financial investments are required in acquiring the premise.

Location depends upon the money invested for the site. Less investment is needed if a clinic is opened in a new building or complex. But, the demerit is that getting patients is tough in a newly built complex as footfalls are rare. A old and running complex may be expensive but offers opportunities for both growth and income.

Professional Needs

A location which provides ample growth opportunities for you and your family, socially and economically lays the path for your success. You also need to check the license or permit to practice in the area.

Strategic Locations

Keep in mind following for success.

  • A clinic in a shopping center or mall.
  • A clinic on a busy street.
  • A medical dental complex or a hospital.

The Dental Office


You have finally located the site or office. Next internal assessment needs to be done before you can open the clinic.


The size of the clinic matters to the dentist, staff as well as the visiting patients. Before finalizing the site check the following:

  • Waiting area for the patients and for their treatment.
  • The time needed to provide specialised treatment at the clinic.
  • The staff necessary.

Interior Design

It is very vital to design your clinic appropriately. There is no limit towards making it more lavish and fancy. Attention must be given to ventilation, air quality, noise pollution, cabinet for dental equipment, etc.

It has become a necessity to make maximum use of the available area and space with the cost of area sky rocketing in urban cities and towns. Hire an interior designer specialized in designing dental offices to make the most of the purchased area. If you have a limited budget, convey it your interior designer. you will receive the best suggestions for cost-effective décor for the clinic.


For a dentist lighting is crucial for every aspect of treatment, from a mere dental check-up to complicated oral surgeries. The use of proper lights boosts the chances of successful treatments. Thus, it is the foremost criteria to be fulfilled while designing a clinic.

Designers sometimes suggest lights that create an ambience of a relaxed, stress free environment in the clinic. This plays a pivotal role in facilitating patients getting over their fears.


There are many choices for your flooring from wood, vinyl tiles, carpet, granite, marble, etc. Select the one that is most suitable to the climatic conditions in the region. The flooring surface not only enhances the look of the clinic but also contributes in creating a comfortable feeling.


They can be painted or covered with wallpapers. The design chosen should make the rooms look more spacious and comfortable. Painted walls are cost-effective and easy to clean.


The parking space in the vicinity of the clinic adds to the convenience both for the dentist and your patients.

Designing the Clinic

Dental clinics in India have a waiting area or the reception and the treatment room. Some dentist spend on innovative designs to create a pleasing environment for the patients while others invest in high tech dental equipment.

Designing Considerations

To set up a new clinic from start requires layout of the basic infrastructure. A few points to be considered before designing the clinic:

  • Number of staff to be hired.
  • The area of treatment room.
  • Growth potential in the locality.
  • Capacity of the waiting area to accomodate patients.
  • Types of dental equipments used for various treatments.

Reception Area

It is the lobby where patients wait for their check up or treatment. Every clinic has a reception area. It's set up and design impresses the patients about the quality of treatments offered. The lobby is made luxurious, stress-free and comfortable for the visitor with a TV set, music systems, subtle lighting, juice bars, etc. to attract more patients.

Your Office Staff

Delegating and managing staff effectively is a part of an independent dental practice. The first step is to decide on the number of staff required for the clinic which depends on clinic size and specialisation offered. In general a receptionist, a secretary and a dental assistant are required in a dental clinic. Some dentists hire one or two employees and train them to take up two jobs or more. Prepare a list of the duties each staff needs to accomplish. It gives them a sense of purpose and ensures completion of the jobs in your absence.

points to remember when you hire

  • Each member would complete the task in his or her own way.
  • Accept the fact that they will make mistakes. Listen to their suggestions.
  • Acknowledge that a task can be done in different ways.
  • Set an example for team work confident.
  • Make them feel
  • Build their confidence.


When you hire the staff, give significance to three crucial factors; compatibility, education and experience. Discuss and clarify issues such as salary, compensation, benefits if any, work timings, etc. in detail and only then hire the applicant. Review their performance and compensate them with incentives at regular intervals. Address their issues from a neutral point of view.


During the interview try to get the maximum information about the applicant like:

  • Reasons for leaving the previous job.
  • Experience of the individual.
  • Ability and willingness of the individual to take any other assigned tasks.
  • Appearance of the applicant.
  • The medium of communication of the applicant.

New Dental Practice


Hiring experienced staff is not a feasible option for those initiating independent practice. Hire freshers and train them as a viable option. It is very economical and offers an opportunity to evaluate the employee, assess the employee's strengths, weaknesses and overall performance.


Salary of an employee would depend on the work, the economy in the region and the quality of service you intend to offer to your patients. The higher the salary you provide the more competent workforce you will possess. Research and find out the comparative salary structure of employees in other dental institutions.


Review each employee at regular intervals. Performance appraisals, incentives, benefits and salary rise. These factors contribute in building faith and goodwill amongst the employees.

Increasing Staff

You may start your practice with one or two employees. But as your practice flourishes you may require more assistants at your disposal because if you overload the existing employees or yourself with too many jobs, it will affect the productivity of your practice.

How to go about?

Setting up a practice takes a lot of efforts. Another option is to buy an existing well set up clinic where you can also inherit some of the existing patients.

Where To Look For

There are various resources that provide information on practices available for sale like dental colleges, associations, professional journals, dental dealers and practice brokers. With the advent of internet and search engines you also have a wider option of searching for appropriate sellers or vendors dealing with practices.

Evaluate the Practice

Check on the following few facts before buying:

  • Is the practice active and flourishing?
  • The financial status of the clinic in the last three years.
  • The reputation of the clinic.
  • The difference in the net and gross practice income.
  • The average fees charged from patients.
  • How the transition of records would be.

Market Value

Next, prepare to negotiate on the purchase value of the practice. Assess the market price in the locality. Add to it the cost of the physical assets such as the dental office equipment and furniture in the clinic. You may add to the cost the price for goodwill created by the existing dentist. As you will inherit some patients on his behalf.

The purchase value would definitely be higher than building up an entire independent dental practice. It is for the individual to decide which one would be worth investing in.

Associate on Contract Basis (Associate independent contractor)

A dentist who borrows facilities and equipment from another party but practices independently is an Associate independent contractor. The individual pays from his pocket for the usage of the amenities. At the same time he enjoys the rights to change the working hours, fees, treatment planning, etc. Such an associate is not entitled to any employee benefits or retirement policies of any kind. In short he is a self-employed individual on contract. He has to take care of financial and organisational responsibilities. It is crucial for an individual to prepare a legal agreement document while becoming an associate independent contractor. Every condition needs to be mentioned in detail. One of the most vital conditions is maintenance of patients’ records. The associate can vouch for retaining the copies of the records, so that he is not at complete loss in case of termination of contract.

The contracts between independent practitioners are of two types:

  1. Time Sharing
  2. Solo Group

Time Sharing Contract

This involves sharing of time, space and equipment by two or more dentists. The dentists would practice independently at different timings, though occupying the common space. Issues on equipment purchase and maintenance need clarification before preparing the contract.

Solo Group Contract

The dentists involved in this contract share facilities, equipment, supply and maintenance expenses, etc. Each member needs to discuss and mention his rights, duties and obligations in the contract to avoid any misconceptions at a later stage.


The following are consideration to become:
An Employee Associate..
  • Is involved in purchase of instruments, equipments,repair and maintenance work, etc. necessary to run the dental practice.
  • Can put forth safety measures for everyone.
  • Will decide upon the guidelines and specifications in patient care.
  • Should be committed to patient care management practices.
  • Can device or alter treatments to patients.
  • Cannot practice outside the organisation without permission. If organisational authorities find any such practice, the dentist is liable to legal action and sometimes suspension.
  • Can guide the organisation regarding performances of the workers or assistants under him/her.
  • Is entitled to benefits and insurance plans as other employees within the organisation.
An Independent Associate..
  • Practices independently within the organisation.
  • Hires or shares the organisational premises for practice. Has to pay charges or a share of the patient fees to the organisation.
  • Has no authority to change the working or performance of the organisation.
  • Is not entitled to any benefits, insurance plans or expenses as other employees.
  • Owns the practice and patient fees.
  • Cannot delegate work to the rest of the staff.
  • Has to pay up for any damage or loss caused in the dental premises.
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