How to Succeed as a Private Dental Practice

The rise of corporate dentistry has made it increasingly difficult for a private dental practice to compete. But with the right systems in place, it’s possible for private practices to far outpace their corporate counterparts. 

In his latest book The Ideal Dental Practice, Dr. Scott Craven teaches the necessary components of any successful practice. These systems are discussed in depth in the book, but we’ll cover some of the main points in this article.

How to succeed as a private dental practice

  1. Business Systems
    • Finances
    • Reporting
    • Supply Savings
  2. Growth Systems
    • Back Office Systems
    • Front Office Training
    • Clinical Systems
    • Marketing
  3. Culture Systems
    • Leadership Development
    • Executive Coaching
    • Team Dynamics

1. Business systems

Most dental schools don’t really teach business education. As a result, many dentists would rather start in corporate dental offices, join a dental support organization (DSO), or partner with a more seasoned dentist. 

Unfortunately, in each of these situations, you don’t actually have much freedom or control. Corporate offices give you set hours you must work for a fixed salary. DSOs often strangle you in complicated contracts. And even with a dental partner, there’s no guarantee they were trained on business systems either.


Your finances need to have clear processes in place to succeed as a private dental practice. Dental payroll is just one of those time-consuming, challenging tasks for dentists. 

When you choose to do this task yourself, you put yourself at unnecessary risk of payroll errors. This can result in high turnover and decreased employee morale. It’s important to either hire a member of your staff who can take this off your plate, or outsource to a payroll professional. 

Bookkeeping is another aspect of your finance you need to establish a process for. Fraud is a big problem for private dentists. Without safeguards in place, you risk losing a lot of hard-earned money.


You can’t improve until you know where you currently stand with your practice. But many dentists don’t want to spend their time analyzing data or generating reports. Understandably so, considering you went to school to practice dentistry, not become a statistician. 

But data keeps us accountable. It’s a necessary and critical part of growth for a private dental practice. Your staff or an outside provider should provide you with insights into the following:

  • Profit and loss
  • Insurance summaries
  • Accounts receivable
  • Adjustment reports
  • Continuing care
  • Referrals
  • Production and collection

If you don’t have dental reporting, you are stuck in the dark. Are you getting a return on investment with your marketing efforts? What is your case acceptance rate? How much money is still in collections? 

Reporting will provide important information to all stakeholders involved for practice dental offices.

Supply savings

Just because you’re a private dental practice, doesn’t mean you need to be all alone. Many independent dentists work together to enjoy the same collective bargaining power as corporate dentistry. The only difference is, you get all the savings benefits, without the corporate stipulations. 

Organizations like Synergize Dental leverage a network of dentists to reduce the costs of dental supplies. With this being one of the largest expenses for dental offices, it can make an immediate impact to your bottom line.

2. Growth systems

Where business systems create efficiency within private dental offices, growth systems are meant to scale your operations. It’s all about generating more new patients, optimizing your patient care, and collecting on earned revenue.

Back office systems

One of the most important areas for the back office is collections. Training your staff on appropriate methods of acquiring payments for services rendered is critical for growth. Too often, this doesn’t get enough attention and dentists leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table every year. 

You’ll also need to establish a system for dental credentialing. Having this in place will make sure you always qualify as an in-network provider for various insurance companies. Doing this effectively will ensure you get lower fees from the insurance carriers.

Front office training

This all starts with how your staff answers the phones and processes online form submissions. On average, dental offices see a 47% increase in new patient conversions when they receive phone training with Synergize Dental. We use a proven system of success for communicating with prospects and nurturing them toward making an appointment. 

It’s also important to train your staff on how to increase your case acceptance rate. How you present dental care has a significant impact for your patients. Many offices are afraid to offer more expensive dental services because they don’t believe the patient will accept treatment. 

Finally, the front office will need to ensure all steps are taken to retain existing patients. It costs seven times as much to acquire a new patient as it does to retain an existing one. Having a system in place for reminders and follow ups can dramatically improve your recare programs.

Clinical systems

How are you improving the level of personal care for patients? Patient doctor trust is imperative to growing small businesses. Having a dental mentor can help you quickly learn vital skills such as chairside manner, advanced dental procedures, and adapting to unforeseen circumstances. 

Additionally, you’ll need to work on optimizing your hygiene department. With so many patients only coming in for an exam and cleaning, this is a great way to grow your practice. A highly functioning hygiene team can produce incredible value for the practice.

Dental marketing

You need to invest in marketing. This establishes your online presence and allows patients to find your private dental practice. Dental marketing includes many services, including:

  • Website development
  • Googls Ads
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Google Maps
  • Social media
  • Reputation management

In order to compete with a corporate practice, you need the help of marketing professionals. The dental industry is a highly competitive space. So if you’re not discoverable online, you are missing out on opportunities to expand your practice.

3. Culture systems

Developing a positive working environment for your staff will lead to greater productivity and employee satisfaction. It’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages and the pros and cons of a dental practice culture.

Leadership development

Anyone can learn to be a leader. It’s a skill just like anything else. When it comes to leading, it requires much more than simply telling other people what to do. 

Leadership is all about inspiring your team to achieve collective goals. This all starts with a collaborative organizational vision.

Executive coaching

For dentists that want to learn how to run a successful private dental practice, executive coaching can take your skills to the next level. We provide specific training designed to assist with your leadership development and enhance your reputation. This approaches both professional and personal development.

Team dynamics

There are a lot of different personalities in the world. As a result, we are bound to have some disagreements in the office. The key is to understand each other and use positive conflict resolution strategies to maintain a healthy working environment. 

Corporate and private practices alike often struggle with team dynamics. This is one area where independent dentists can truly thrive.

Are you ready to take your practice to the next level?

Reach out today to see how you can start maximizing your dental practice potential


2685 N 1000 W, Suite 202
Pleasant View, UT 84414

(801) 786-0500

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