the startup dental practice Blog

from Ideal Practices

Read the Top Concepts Every Week

Dental Practice Start-up Costs: The TRUE Price To Open A New Office

By Jayme Amos.  Get free updates of posts here

Dental Practice Start-Up Costs…

dental practice startup costsWhat are the average dental practice start-up costs to build a new dental practice?

First of all, your dental practice start-up costs WILL NOT cost you a million dollars!

Yet, some industry resources report that dentistry has the highest cost per square foot of any small business in America.

It’s no secret that starting a practice is expensive…but most doctors want to know how expensive it is and how to afford it.

Hang on tight.

This article will give you a huge advantage on the topic of dental startups.

What You’ll Learn in This Article:

– The average range of costs for start-up dental practices

– The categories of an average start-up dental practice budget

– 2 biggest factors in the budget (can you pay less?)

– 3 strategies for any dentist to afford the costs

The Average Range of
Costs for Start-Up Dental Practices

Over the last few years, the average range we’ve seen has been between $550,000 – $750,000.

I’ll break that number into categories of spending below.

For some, that sounds like good news since they’ve heard it can cost seven figures.

For the rest of the dental community, it still sounds like a lot of money!

Many doctors ask us why the range is so wide. There are 2 major contributors to cost differences in startups (and you may be surprised by the costs that aren’t included).

HIgh Level Consulting Client building
Succesful Startup Practice: The Commercial Building Recently Purchased by One of Our High Level Consulting Clients as Part of the Strategy for his Startup Practice

Get all the tools from this article directly in your inbox by clicking here now

2 Biggest Factors in Budget Ranges

How is it that some practices spend $550,000 while others spend $750,000?

If it was simple and it was clear-cut without any tradeoffs, most doctors would choose to spend less. Unfortunately, its not that simple.

#1 Biggest Cost-Saving Factor: Region.

Build in a low cost area and you’ll save up to 20% of the cost.

But be completely sure your region is a match with your growth goals. Your future success levels and the ease by which you’ll reach those levels are closely related to your choice of region (see our Bestseller about dental practice locations here).

If your region is chosen properly, you’ll attract more of the patients you enjoy serving. Your cost to acquire new patients will be lower (sometimes by a factor of 10!).

Building in a low-cost region can be a good way to create savings. But be careful that your attempt to capture savings don’t become the most expensive career choice you make.

#2 Biggest Cost-Saving Factor: Square Footage.

Want to spend a LOT less? Build a much smaller office.

But will that match your vision? Each doctor has a vision for their future, their finances and their clinical standards that can only be reached with the right practice. Can you practice the way you hope to in a small office? Is the cost savings worth it?

Each doctor’s clinical vision and financial goals must influence the decision of Square Footage more than anything else.

If your clinical vision and financial goals show in our forecasting tools that you’ll need 5 operatories in the next 5 years, please avoid the temptation to save money by building a smaller office. You’ll regret it.

In the 13 Stages (see our publication on the 13 Stages here)  to open a new office, the most important is Stage 1 – your vision. Get clear on the vision and have a team help you create a new office that fits the vision perfectly. My team and I pride ourselves in getting this right because matching your unique vision with the right new practice plan is crucial to you having the most fulfilling and financially rewarding career. Contact us here to get advice on aligning your vision with your new practice plans.

Your Region and your Square Footage can keep your costs lower than anything else in your project.

“Cost-Saving Can Kill You”

If you build in the cheapest town and you build the smallest possible office you might be able to build the world’s cheapest dental office…but what prospects do you think you’ll have for growth? Or profits? Or clinical satisfaction? Or pride of ownership?

Clearly, cost-saving alone will not get you the kind of practice or create the kind of future you want. Wise practice owners balance cost-saving with  proven growth strategies. The best practice owners align cost and strategy perfectly with their vision.

This is why we tell clients that it’s imperative to weigh your growth goals and your clinical vision against those potential cost savings.

Costs can be saved just once.

But decades will  be spent with you working chairside, providing for your family and  caring for patients.

If you do this right, you’ll enjoy the best parts of practice ownership on a deep level.

Call us. You only get to open your office once.

We’ll help you balance cost, vision and finances.

This is a decision that you need to get right.

Dental Construction Site
Construction Site Visit: Jayme Amos, Showing the Feature Wall in the Clinical Zone During a Construction Site Visit for One of Our High Level Consulting Clients

Get all the tools from this article directly in your inbox by clicking here now

How the Heck will I Afford That??

Let’s spend a minute asking the obvious question.

Dental Practice startup costsHow do doctors afford startups?

After working with hundreds of doctors, we’ve found 3 of the most influential ways of affording a practice that apply to every dentist. Below, all 3 are here for you to consider.

#1 Way to Afford It:

The Right Bank.

Work with a bank who “gets it”. The right bank will have a plan that works with your specific vision. There are dozens of stories we’ve seen where doctors choose the wrong bank.

The wrong bank can make your growth very difficult.

The wrong bank can limit your options for expansion.

The wrong bank can make your first year a nightmare with restrictive payment cycles, high first year costs, low flexibility and messy disbursements to vendors who build the office.

Surprisingly, the wrong banks can even prevent you from selling your practice.

“Your rate isn’t as important as some doctors think.”

Don’t be fooled by thinking the Banks with the “low rate” are the right partner for your practice. Have you seen how many pages of paper loan documents consist of? Count how many of those pages deal with “rate”.

The point is this: there is much more to choosing the right bank than the rate. Banks who are wrong for your practice may have an attractive rate but their knowledge of partnering properly with a dental start up should never be at your expense. Make sure you have the right bank on your side!

As most accountants would say, it almost always makes good business-sense to take out a loan for a new dental practice, even if you can pay cash for the project (but call the accountant for advice on your specific situation, please). Some have the luxury and option of not needing a loan…but in this discussion let’s mention a reality for those who may want to consider a loan, even if they don’t need to.

Here is the biggest secret the banks may not want you to know about: they LOVE dentists. I recently heard of a new practice client of mine getting a dental practice loan for just over 4%. Unreal. The truth is, banks run from risk and dentistry has weathered many-a-storm with very low default rates.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to the dentist-banker love story.

The “love” that banks have for dentistry has attracted many banks to offer loans to dentists. In their chase of dollars – and dentists – many banks have snuck in terms into their loans that are flat-out wrong for dentists. But the banks know their “rate” can lure the unwise dentists in. We’ve found many banks trying to attract dentists while including terms in the loan documents that can cripple your practice and your future. We’ll help you analyze all aspects of your loan options and help you get the loan (and a rate) that fits your vision.

#2 Way to Afford It:

Get the right team on your side.

This is far different from your staff. I’m referring to the team who will help you take your practice from idea to opening day.

Work with a team like ours who can help you open on time and on budget. One doctor recently explained to us how he chose the wrong contractor, costing him over $400,000 before the project was finished. Horrible.

But if you work with a team like mine, we’ll guide you at each step in the process.

There is a proven process. There are proven strategies. There are ways to afford this and succeed. Like with the 100 New Patients On Opening Day plan. Or by finding out why dentists must avoid Pretty Towns. Or by going through the Ideal Patient process to attract the best patients for your customized vision for practice growth.

Get the confidence and the knowledge you need to get this done right. If you get it right, you’ll enjoy some of the highest levels of satisfaction and profitability. Let us know how we can help you get this right!

#3 Way to Afford It: Plan your growth. Start with a business plan.

Yes, a business plan.

Though business plans are never mentioned in dental school, they’re one of the highest indicators for long term success. Long gone are the days of being able to work out of a house, hang a shingle and make a nice living.

Those days are gone.

With rising taxes, PPO complexities and increased competition you need a stable, solid plan.

Imagine having the clinical freedom you know you can reach. Consider how well you’ll be able to provide a nice living for your family and save for a bigger future. With the right plan you can create growth and reach a level of professional pride that very few industries can.

The best and biggest future for you must start with a plan.

The Right Business Plan will Include:

  • Growth strategy
  • Lending plans
  • Financial disbursement timing
  • Profit and expense projections
  • Cost analyses
  • Proven marketing plan for new patients
  • Demographics strategy
  • Vision and mission statements
  • Employee and hiring planning
Business Plan Numbers Needed
Does Your Business Plan Analyze Numbers Like This?

Will you tap into the benefits of using a business plan for your practice?

With a great business plan you can attract the best banks, the best partners and the best prospects that will carry your practice into the future.

The days of successful practices happening with little planning may be behind us. For those doctors who believe in planning for the future, precise, detailed business plans should be part of your preparation. We’ll help doctors assemble a business plan that creates a planned, confident path toward your future.

Get all the tools from this article directly in your inbox by clicking here now

How Soon Until You Begin?

Does all this make you want to finally kickstart your future as a practice owner?

You can begin your startup right now, while cutting out nearly all the risk when you do it the right way. We have proven this with hundreds of doctors, all across the country; regular doctors who wanted to break free and create the control they desire in a practice they can be proud of

If you’ve been wanting a a new practice, you’re in the right place at Here, you’ll hear hundreds of proven strategies that have worked for associates opening successful startups. These concepts will help you succeed in tremendous ways.

If you want a team to help you get there with confidence and proven methods, look through some of our case studies.

Not every doctor qualifies but for the doctors who do and are chosen for this high level guidance, we’re passionate and honored to help you do this right.

Be sure your vision, quality, control and satisfaction all align. With the right pieces in place and the right team on your side you’ll get it done at a great price with incredible quality that matches your vision.

For those who do want to explore the path of opening a new office, it is well within reach and your dental practice start-up costs are more affordable than most think.

Cost Categories

How do the numbers break down?

Here are the fully simplified estimates for average single-doctor new dental practice start-up costs.

The numbers below assume you’re considering a practice that will have 5 operatories and lease commercial space.

  • Square Footage Needed: 2000 (practice size ideals discussed in our other publications)
  • Construction: $240,000 (leasehold improvements – costs vary 30-40% based on your area of the country but this example uses $120 per square foot – should calculate $25,000 to $100,000 in a free construction allowance provided by the landlord that our team negotiates for our High Level Consulting Clients)
  • Equipment, supplies, IT, software and furniture: $190,000
  • Working Capital (marketing, payroll, consultant, legal, accounting, website, rent, etc) – $70,000
 Total start-up costs are $500,000
Startup Dental Practice Cost - Pie Chart - Price Data Averages Budget Business Plan
This data is complied after helping clients with hundreds of successful startup practices across the country. Get the full data at

How to Afford a Startup…with just 6 Crowns per month

It’s time to discuss the “how-do-I-Afford-this” question.

For a few thousand dollars per month, you can have your dream office.

We’ve done the math on this for hundreds of your colleagues and we can help show you the numbers too.

The process will begin with finding the right lending partner. The right loans for startup practices will allow you to produce just 6 crowns per month of production to cover the entire monthly cost of opening your practice.

After helping open more startup practices than almost anyone – and negotiating the loans for those doctors with the banks – we can confidently say you’ll pay a few thousand per month for the practice you’ve always dreamed of.

One of the surprising aspects of loan negotiations is:
“the rate and the term of the loan are not the top two priorities.”

It’s sad that too many colleagues have focused on the wrong negotiation points of rate and term.

Those two factors are only a small portion of a successfully negotiated startup practice loan.

Please be very careful here: the typical banks will not be able to offer you the solutions we create.

In order for the numbers to work for you, you’ll need the right partner lender.

Can you produce 6 crowns per month?
Then you can afford a new practice.

Sound too good to be true?

The average crown fee is above $1000 nationally.

But, in the spirit of being conservative with our math, lets assume you only collect $600 for a crown.

Now – multiply $600 by 6 crowns.
$600 Collection per crown x 6 Crowns = $3600
Now – what will your loan payments be?

The average startup dental practice loan will cost you $3,582.16 per month – OR LESS – when my team teaches you how to negotiate for the best payments.
6 Crowns = $3600
Loan = $3582.16

In other words, you can afford the entire startup practice loan payment as long as you can produce at least 6 crowns per month.
It is imperative that you create a customized spending budget for your startup.

If you build it properly, you will cover ALL of your startup costs with the proceeds from your loan.

For example, if your budget is built correctly, you won’t need to take any money out of pocket.

The result will be for you to open a practice you love…
You will cover ALL your equipment costs…
And construction…
And attorney’s fees…
And payroll…
And marketing…
And consulting fees…
And even your real estate payments…
For just 6 crowns per month.
Are you starting to see how affordable this will be in your new practice?

==> Join me and experts from around the country at this year’s Startup Practice Blueprint!

This is our only scheduled event this year…so claim one of the last seats.
Only 24 attendees are accepted.

Just click the link to learn more about our Live Courses (the Startup Practice Blueprint) and in our free resources on this site, you can find case-studies and calculation data, giving you the exact math behind our process.

It’s not too good to be true – you can do this!

The Bad News:

The downside is that the potential for cost overruns is high.

The potential for delays in your project is a reality too many dentists face.

The planning process is a huge undertaking. Coordinating over a dozen vendors and getting their timing right, the financial disbursements right and matching them all with your vision is a large scale project.

The knowledge earned over 10 years of working with dentists is something we’re passionate about sharing with our clients.

Combine our tools, our knowledge and our resources by checking on our tools every week here at

If you’re interested in having our team guide you toward a successful startup, you can apply for our High Level Consulting Program. We accept only a handful of clients each year to create the greatest level of successes.


You can watch case studies and apply for our High Level Consulting Program here.


Our team has helped hundred of startup practices across the country and we’re more firmly convinced now than ever before that it is the best time to become a practice owner. The opportunities available to the doctors who are committed and passionate for delivering care in their own practice are unmatched right now.

Any doctor can succeed in practice ownership. All you need is the right process and the right team behind you.

The Good News:

The biggest consideration is the professional pride, satisfaction and energy you WILL get from building a dental practice the right way.

You can have a team on your side that will help you create the practice the right way, the first time.

The ability to deliver your ideal clinical level of care supported by your facility is an amazing thing to watch – I’ve seen it on the face of countless dentists, all across the country.

A dental practice can be an expression of who you are, a surprisingly valuable investment, a motivator for you and the team, an attractor for the best staff in town and a powerful reason for patients to refer. It’s a good spot to be in!

Get all the tools from this article directly in your inbox by clicking here now

Click the Share Button Below – Share this article online with other dentists so they can build their confidence toward practice ownership!
These are real dental practice start-up costs and numbers that you can use in your investigation process.

Good luck taking your next steps forward!

Getting to the next level

Jayme Amos - Founder - Ideal Practices

Jayme Amos

Chief Advocate for Practice Ownership
Bestselling Author, Practice Location
Host, Ideal Practices Podcast

By Jayme

Check out our reviews at Amazon!