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Dental Demographics: What We Have Learned from Opening 600+ Practices

Are you an associate dentist looking to open a dental startup?

I’m betting you have heard—from several sources—that the first thing you need to do is get a demographics report.

I am about to shock you.

The information in those documents is virtually useless when it comes to owning a SUCCESSFUL practice.

And it can waste thousands of your hard-earned dollars.

There is a better way, and our team of experts at Ideal Practices knows the best way to choose your location. We have partnered with and helped over 600 doctors open practices, and every single one of them is successful.

Many of our high-level consulting clients brought in over a million dollars in their first 12 months. Most have over a hundred new patients within the first few weeks.

And we don’t rely on pointless demographics reports.

This article will show you what the most important factors are when it comes to dental demographics. And none of those factors rely on expensive PDF demographic reports. I will show you three specific case studies involving doctors who now own successful practices—even though they ignored demographic ratios.

Keep reading to find out what ratios meant to Dr. A.P., Dr. Danny, and Dr. Bryan.

The Dangers and Pitfalls of Demographic Reports

First, we will focus on Dr. A.P. When he came to us at Ideal Practices, he expressed annoyance over all the wasted time and money he spent trying to understand demographics data.

Dr. A.P.’s 7 Demographics Reports

Dr. A.P. wanted to open a dental practice startup, and all the online “experts” said he needed to begin with location. They went on to say the best way to find the right location was through demographics reports. Dr. A.P. listened to all the online noise about the importance of dental demographics reports, so he forked out hundreds of dollars for a PDF.

Unfortunately, Dr. A.P. was only confused by all the information. The part that made the most sense to him was at the bottom. It said if he still had questions, he could purchase the next level of reports.

So that’s what he did. He bought another report.       

But after paying for the second report, he had more questions. So, when he read again at the bottom that he could buy another report for more details, he bought another one. 

He ended up buying SEVEN reports!

That’s a lot of money! And he STILL had questions. He had piles and piles of data, but no definitive answers about the right plan for his startup.

Dr. A.P. said, “I’m more confused now than when I first started—and I’ve wasted thousands of dollars!”

     Dr. A.P.’s frustration was obvious. He spent more time and more money on more reports, only to be left with more questions and confusion. Who wouldn’t feel frustrated at that point?

The Startup Dentist Podcast Cover Art

The Truth About Dental Demographics

It’s heartbreaking to me when I hear associate dentists being told to buy expensive reports from online demographics guys.  Especially since the truth is, none of this is necessary. In fact, it’s not helpful AT ALL.

My name is Jayme Amos, and I’m the CEO of Ideal Practices. My team and I have helped hundreds of dentists create successful practice startups all over the country.

We have never sold demographics reports. And we never will.

I hate being heartbroken. So, I feel compelled to share the truth with you. I want you to avoid the typical “demographics traps” so many dentists fall prey to.

If it’s not already clear to you, let me make it clear: You do not need to pay for dental demographics reports.

Unfortunately, demographics reports have become one of dentistry’s most misunderstood (and overpriced) topics for startups.


Today, you will learn these things about dental demographics:

  1. Where are the best demographics in the country for dental startups?
  2. Avoid the demographics-ratio trap
  3. How to use “bad” demographics to open a successful startup
  4. Which is better: rural, city,or suburban?
  5. The best strategy for startups
  6. Why typical demographics reports waste your money
  7. Four questions to ask about “great” demographics
  8. A startup-specific process you can use

*You may want to bookmark this page.*

There’s a ton of helpful information, and you may want to come back to it again and again.

You will find information here based on hundreds of startup success stories that will help you make good choices for your startup future. In fact, you can watch our client, Dr. Bryan, in the FIRST EVER documentary about the dental startup process.

Where are the best dental demographics for a startup?

While speaking at one of our Startup Blueprint Courses last year, I received an interesting question from one of the dentists in attendance.

It is a two-day course led by the experts in startups and is jam-packed with helpful information.<<<<<<<

During our discussion on demographics, one curious dentist asked me, “Where are the best demographics in the country?”

It’s a fair question, right?

I replied, “I’ll tell you—but only if you promise to move to that town and open your startup there.”

The room nervously laughed as I pointed at the doctor and smiled. He nodded and laughed, ready to play along.

I told him to pay close attention to the details, and I then began my answer by sharing Dr. Danny’s startup story.

Dr. Danny opened his dental office with our team and reached 348 patients in the first 3 months while collecting over $900,000 in his first year.

An exciting success, right?

But there is a catch to Danny’s story, and it’s related to dental demographics.

When he came to us, the demographics data for his hometown shocked us. The competition ratio in his hometown was better than I had ever seen.

In my best-selling book, Choosing the Right Practice Location, I suggest a minimum competition ratio of 1:2000.

This means that for every 1 dentist in your town, you should have a minimum of 2000 people.

However, I also discuss what is really important in choosing the BEST location for your startup practice.

Get your free copy to learn the secrets about how the right location can bring you more new patients while spending less on marketing.

Danny’s hometown ratio was off the charts, measuring 1:36,000. In other words, his area had 16 TIMES MORE people for every dentist. Imagine the opportunity!

But here’s the problem—Danny lived in Alaska.

I then asked the doctor in the audience, “Are you ready to move to Alaska now?”

The dentist instantly shook his head no.

We all had a good laugh at his emphatic response. This says a lot about how it’s not all about the best demographics.

Funny enough, Danny’s wife and kids didn’t love Alaska either.

This is the problem with demographics reports. The data in a report can look good, but they can be for a situation that is completely wrong for the things that are right for your life.

Alaska was wrong for Danny’s family and his future.

So, Danny moved.

Yep—Danny left the town with the “best demographics.” Yet he still created one of the most successful dental practice startup in the country.

The Best Town For a Dental Practice Is...

Dr Bryan Dollhouse View

Within the year, we helped Danny open his dental office in a town in the Midwest. It was perfect for him and his family. Even though it wasn’t in Alaska with the best demographics, it was perfect for his plan and his life.

He had a customized dental startup plan, just like yours should be. CUSTOMIZED for YOU.

Now Danny is one of the most successful professionals in his town. He owns his real estate, and he’s a respected clinician throughout his region.


Danny had one of the best startups in the country…

AFTER leaving the state with the best competition ratio.

The right strategy for Danny did not include chasing the best demographics reports.

Instead, his plan was custom created to match the lifestyle he wanted for his family, combining it with a plan to build the startup to grow quickly.


You can do this too, even in the state where you currently live.

But be careful!  Danny would have missed all of this if he fell into the dental demographics trap…

This is especially concerning since demographics reports are often 100 percent irrelevant.

This is especially true for doctors who fall into the trap of the competition ratio.

The Competition Ratio Trap

See, Danny’s wife and kids couldn’t wait to leave Alaska.

The data was like a trap. All the numbers told him to stay. But if Danny had stayed, even with a great ratio, his family would have been miserable.

What good is a practice full of patients if the other aspects of your life are miserable?

“Too many doctors try to brag about their competition ratio. Ignore them.”

Instead of being distracted by irrelevant data, we started with a customized plan during his Vision Call.

Then, after the planning, we REVERSE ENGINEERED Danny’s dental startup model based on HIS vision and the lifestyle he wanted for his family.

It was customized for him and his life.

Not to chase data.

The Right Strategy for Startups

A successful dental startup isn’t created by paying for an expensive PDF. 

It’s also not created because of a fancy ratio. I get emails all the time from doctors who are frustrated because they opened their dental office startup in an area with a great “ratio,” but they spend years struggling to grow the practice in a way that they’re proud of.

Ask yourself this question, Will I be happy 10 years from now because of a demographics ratio?

Of course not.

A better question is: “How can I build a plan for a practice I’m proud of with a reputation I enjoy in the community where my family and I want to live and serve?


Startups are not successful because of calculations.

They’re successful because of implementing startup-specific strategies.


The right strategy for your dental startup should be based on:

  1. A customized plan, reverse-engineered for your model
  2. A proven process based on hundreds of startups
  3. A design for your lifestyle and family goals
  4. The practice reputation you desire

See, dental practice startups that thrive do so because of a model that makes you excited to show up every day—not because of expensive PDFs from some guy with a dental demographics website.

When you consider startup demographics, your entire practice model must be custom designed for you and your vision—not data mined.

This is the missing link with dental demographics.  

City, Rural, or Suburban for a Dental Startup

When Danny took everything into consideration and opened a practice where his family could be happy, the result was one of the fastest-growth startups in the country.

You can do this too, regardless of your city, rural, or suburban area.

We have clients who have used this process to open highly successful dental startups in almost every state in the country.

Danny did this even by moving away from the best demographics in the country.

This is why it may surprise you to learn that Danny paid nothing for his dental demographics.

The First Step for Danny was to create a vision for his startup.

For our high-level consulting clients, this starts with the Vision Call. Once we understand your vision, my team of experts and I spend multiple weeks preparing and planning before even looking at data.

If you want to open a successful dental office like hundreds of doctors before you, the first step is your Vision Call. That’s when we understand your vision and REVERSE ENGINEER a customized business plan that spells out the year-long strategy to opening day.

That’s right. We create your customized and defined practice model before we start digging through data.

It is important to understand your vision and have a customized dental business plan—not listen to all the online noise. What worked one time, in one town, for one person who tries to brag on social media doesn’t mean it’s right for your startup.



Create the vision for your startup by starting with questions like these:

  • What do you want to be known for in your community?
  • What do you want to be remembered by in practice ownership?
  • What do you want to give in the area where you serve?
  • Who are the specific Ideal Patients you want to care for?
  • What kind of experience do you want your patients to enjoy?
  • What do you imagine when you consider the future for your family?

For Danny—and maybe for you too—even the greatest ratio in the country doesn’t make a town right for your startup. Dental demographics reports won’t tell you what to do—they simply tell you what’s there.

For your dental practice startup to succeed, build your plan around a proven startup strategy, customized for your future practice model.

What to Do with “Bad” Demographics

Now I will show you a real-life example of what you can do with your practice—even with “bad” demographics data.

Consider Dr. Bryan’s story.

He opened in a town with 25 percent HIGHER competition than what many of the so-called demographics experts will suggest to you.

But when Dr. Bryan opened his doors, he already had 78 new patients in the first 2 days and went on to collect a million dollars in the first 12 months.

Read that again: A million dollars of collections in 12 months. From a startup. In a town with “bad” demographics.

How did he do it?

Watch Dr. Bryan’s Journey in the first-ever startup dental practice documentary.

In this 5-part series, you will witness him transform from “Army Doc”

to “Values-Based” million-dollar startup

Dr. Bryan followed the Ideal Practices’ year-long dental consulting process, ignoring the self-proclaimed “gurus” who say dentists need the best competition ratios. Not true.

4 Questions to Ask About “Great” Demographics

Maybe you’re like so many other associate dentists who are being told you need “great” demographics.

People around you are saying things like, “You have a great area,” or “This is a good opportunity,” or “A lot of new homes are coming in!”

If that’s your situation, consider these 4 questions before taking action:

  1. How many successful startups have those people guided with their opinions?  Many people love sounding like an expert based on their ONE startup. Be careful you don’t become a guinea pig for their concepts. What worked one time for one person doesn’t mean it’s right for your dental practice startup.
  2. What PROVEN model will be implemented to support that demographic data? The data alone is worthless. The plan is what brings results.
  3. What marketing plan do you have to get the right patients? There is a difference between volume and quality. Which types of patients do you want?
  4. Is the growth in those areas happening too fast or too slow?

Even if people say you have “great” demographics, remember that Danny literally left the best demographics in the country—yet he still created a million-dollar startup by following our proven process.

Danny’s startup was a success because he had a customized, proven plan. NOT because of expensive dental demographics reports.


The 2000:1 Ratio From the “Experts”

Many of those so-called “experts” will say you need a population-to-doctor ratio of at least 2000:1.

In theory, the higher the ratio, the better the result. This higher ratio implies less competition.

Contrast that theory with Dr. Bryan’s story. In the Startup Documentary, you will see his ratio was just 1500:1.  Statistically, that reveals a 25 percent HIGHER competition.

Yet, Dr. Bryan is one of the country’s fastest-growing startups—even with a “bad” ratio.

Is less competition better? Sometimes.

But often, the right area for you may have higher competition.

Remember that a startup never succeeds because of a demographics report. Never.

I can tell you with confidence that the doctors who create dental office startup successes that they’re proud to own do so by having a complete plan. Not dental demographics reports.

Like Dr. Bryan, they have a customized plan to fit the practice model for that doctor. And they create the plan on the Vision Call, even a year before Opening Day.

Build a Plan that Supports Dental Demographics

Dr. Bryan’s startup was reverse engineered to support his demographics.

And each aspect was customized to his vision.

These 12 topics should be reverse engineered based on your vision for your
practice and future:

  1. Your Practice Model
  2. Clinical Vision
  3. Future Growth Pursuit
  4. Loans and Funding Strategies
  5. Business Plan Structure
  6. Proven Marketing Strategy
  7. Local Media Relations
  8. Hiring Plans
  9. Equipment and Construction Planning
  10. Financial Goals
  11. Regional Give Strategies
  12. Startup MBA Business Systems

Here’s the reality: Your startup is about your life.

For a private practice owner, this is not a cookie-cutter approach.  If you were corporate dentistry, maybe the goal would be to create the best-looking spreadsheet or squeeze every last nickel out of patients and team members.

But this is not about a corporate model. Nor is this about a demographics report full of nonsense numbers from so-called experts.

No. For a private dental practice startup, this is about much more than those things.

If Dr. Bryan made his choices from a report, he would have missed his entire town!

Worse, if Dr. Bryan listened to those people, it wouldn’t have been a good fit for his life, his marriage or his happiness.

It’s sad to say that the guys who sell expensive demographics reports love to talk about competition ratios. They’ll tell you the ratio will give you answers and sell you an expensive PDF.

But now you know better. Now you know the truth—those reports rarely help. 

What Our Clients Say

Our team of consultants at Ideal Practices has guided hundreds of associate dentists to open thriving startup practices that match their values and build great futures for their families.

Some have large practices, some are boutique.

Rural dental practices have a plan, as do city practices and suburban practice.

Others bring their dogs to work as therapy animals.

We have partnered with general and multi-discipline dentists, as well as those who specialize, such as pediatrics, ortho, endo, oral surgery, and prosthodontics.

We have guided many, but each practice has one thing in common…

Each one is customized.

What I love is when we get to help these dentists build that sense of pride in practice ownership, creating success and confidence in business, even without any previous business experience, through our Startup MBA program.

Here’s what some of our recent clients have to say about working with us:

  • “We hit the ground running at a sprint — not just a jog — and we’re still sprinting. This past year, we did over a million dollars of [work]. Last spring, I shut down advertising.” — Alexis
  • “He mentored me incredibly and showed me what a good office should be like, how it should be run, how the team should feel… The schedule is looking good and patients are coming in. They’re happy and they’re bringing their friends and family.” — Olga
  • “We had a full schedule opening day. We are almost a year in, and we are almost at a thousand new patients. Working with Ideal Practices has been great.” — David

Write Your Success Story

Let’s strategize your customized dental business plan based on your vision for a successful startup you can be proud of.

Together, we’ll cut out the typical risks and follow the process that has worked for hundreds of doctors.

Every dental practice startup is different.

And this is why the Ideal Practices team spends one-on-one time with you, planning out every step for the entire process. So we can get it right.

What are you waiting for?

Take the first step and apply to become one of our high-level consulting clients today, so we can get started on finding your vision.  

Here’s to the success of your future practice!


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