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Dental Practice Acquisition vs. Startup: What’s the Big Difference?

Deciding you want to own your own dental practice is an AMAZING decision. Seriously, pat yourself on the back!

Now, after making that amazing decision, you’ve found yourself with an even bigger decision on your hands: “Should I buy a practice, or start my own?”

Trust me, we’ve all been there. 

In order to help with your decision and find what’s right for you, let’s break down the big difference between a dental practice acquisition vs. a startup:

  1. Culture

One of the most important aspects of a dental practice is its culture. Your practice’s culture will define the patients’ experience, employees’ experience, and your experience as the owner.

The truth is, culture is really hard to change. (Like, eating-popcorn-after-a-wisdom-teeth- removal hard!)

When you buy a practice, you’ll either have to change how the practice used to operate – everything from how employees were trained, to the equipment used, to what patients expect when they walk through your doors – or conform to the existing culture.

“Even if you replace the whole staff, your patients still have the culture,” said Dr. Ben, startup owner.

As someone who’s always had an entrepreneurial mind, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than going through all the trouble to acquire my own practice, just to end up feeling like I was still working for someone else. (AKA, whoever owned the place last)

If you want to be able to build your own company culture from scratch, a startup is right for you!

  1. Creativity

Close your eyes and imagine your dream dental office – a dental office that would actually make you want to go to the dentist at 8AM on a Monday morning. (I know, I know.. Just try!)

Once you’ve visualized the details of this dream dental practice, consider this: 

What if I told you that dream could become a reality, BUT… You couldn’t have the flooring you imagined.

No biggie, right? But what if you also couldn’t have…

The building layout you wanted. The equipment you wanted. The staff you wanted. The location you wanted. The chairs you wanted.

Would it still be your vision, or just a watered down version of that?

“Once you get a taste of that vision, once you get a little glimpse of it, it’s really hard to let go,” said Dr. Bryan, one of our successful startup owners. “It’s really hard to say: You know what? That’s not going to be worth it in the end.”

When you start your own dental practice, you have complete creative control over every single aspect of the office. That way, you can actually create the practice you imagined.

  1. Satisfaction

The right choice often seems like the harder choice.

I mean, think about working out, studying, relationships, changing out of your “Zoom sweatpants” when you leave the house…

When you choose the “harder” route vs. the “easy” route, it’s often the more rewarding path.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that buying a dental practice is a walk in the park. What I am saying is that if you’re buying a practice just to avoid risk, you’re missing out on the satisfaction of your risks paying off. 

Plus, you’re risking ending up with something that you won’t be happy with. 

“I was willing to go through the early struggle and the challenge of doing the startup compared to the acquisition,” said Dr. Ben. “The acquisition felt easy, but the startup felt right.”


Whether you choose to buy a dental practice or open your own, kudos to you! Getting to call a business and office your own is an incredible feeling.

If you’re someone who’s decided you want the independence, creative control, and satisfaction that comes with starting your own practice – well, you’re in good company. 

For more opinions and testimonials on the difference between a dental practice acquisition and a startup, check out the video below!

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