Opening a new dental practice is an exciting step, and there are a lot of big decisions to make. The equipment and supplies you choose have a significant impact on the quality of service you can provide your patients, and the quality of work environment you can provide to staff and dentists. It’s often tempting to choose the same equipment you’re familiar with from your clinical rotation or another practice where you’ve worked, but it’s important to make your choices based on what’s best for your new space. We’ll discuss how to make the best choices and how to acquire dental equipment that will help you get your new practice running smoothly from the start.
What Does It Cost to Start a Dental Office?
The biggest question most professionals have is how much it costs to open up a new dental office. Generally, you’re looking at an investment of about $500,000. Let’s take a look at how this breaks down:
- Construction costs: Expect to spend around $240,000 on construction, repairs and renovations. This cost is the most variable and depends on the building’s condition. It also changes based on whether you are renting the property or buying it.
- Tech and legal: To succeed in today’s field, you need a professionally designed website and some marketing to start with. You will also need to find IT support for your software. You should also find legal counsel you can call upon if needed. Budget around $70,000 for these expenses.
- Supplies and equipment: How much does dental equipment cost? Equipment and dental supplies for startup practices are typically the second largest expense, and you will spend about $200,000 to get everything you need.
- Employee pay: To attract the best staff, you’ll need to offer competitive pay and benefits. This cost will vary a lot based on the size of your new practice, but you should assume that the rest of your investment is going toward employees save for a small cushion of working capital.
Starting a new dental practice can be very expensive, so it makes sense to try to limit your expenses as much as you can upfront to minimize debt. To keep cash flowing, you have to consider the return on investment you get from each piece of equipment and batch of supplies. Purchasing excess instruments and supplies for dental office startups is not advisable as it can eat up more of your budget than you expect.
Set Your Budget and Priorities
One of the best tips for purchasing dental equipment for new practices is to budget. Dental equipment costs for startups can quickly spiral out of control if you aren’t careful. When planning your budget, you need to run a cost-benefit analysis. Consider the upfront costs of the equipment in comparison to its quality and longevity. To help facilitate this analysis, here are some questions to consider before buying dental equipment.
Is It Comfortable?
Purchasing dental equipment for new offices starts with large pieces of equipment such as dental chairs and x-ray equipment, which need to be as comfortable as possible for the patient. A lot of patients will be interacting with the equipment for significant amounts of time, and you don’t want that experience made more uncomfortable than necessary.
The equipment also needs to be ergonomic for the staff’s and your own use. There is typically a lot of bending over during a workday, and choosing well-designed chairs, delivery systems and other equipment can minimize physical stress for assistants, hygienists and dentists as they work.
How Is the Quality?
It can be quite tempting to cut costs by buying “budget” tier equipment, and it can save you a lot in terms of upfront costs. However, you will quickly lose those initial savings because you need to replace lower quality equipment more frequently, and the cost adds up over time. It’s always a good idea to request samples of equipment or examine them in person at a trade show.
The same holds true for your dental instruments. Holding an instrument, feeling its weight and adjusting movable parts give you a good idea of whether a product is up to your quality standards and is a good use of dental equipment costs for the new office.
Is It Really Necessary?
While you always want the best for your new practice, more features are not necessarily better. Modern pieces of dental equipment often have so many features as to be off-putting, and many of the available bells and whistles end up being unnecessary. This rule also extends to practice management software, which can be overwhelming for staff if too many features are included.
When you start shopping for a particular piece of equipment, narrow down your choices by determining what features you will actually need for day-to-day practice.
Will It Attract Talent and Customers?
Your equipment needs to meet current industry standards if you want to attract quality talent in assistants, hygienists and administrative staff. Making sure they have equipment that allows them to do their jobs effectively and efficiently is one of the best ways to build the best team.
Likewise, customers expect a comfortable environment and access to cutting edge diagnostic and treatment options. Choosing equipment that expands your catalog of procedures is a great way to attract and keep new patients.
What Dental Equipment Does a New Dental Office Need?
If you’ve completed dental school, you have a good grasp of the necessary equipment for dental practice startups. However, some types of equipment deserve special focus while you’re compiling your dental office equipment list for startups.
Every appointment will see a patient in the dental chair, making it one of the most essential pieces of equipment to get right. Patients don’t want to experience any further discomfort during dental appointments, and staff need the chairs to be operated easily for maximum efficiency.
Dental chairs should be comfortably padded with movable armrests to make it easier for patients to sit in and get out of the chair. For dentists, assistants and hygienists, having easy positioning controls is essential.
X-rays are essential in diagnosing problems and ensuring maintained oral health. Look for digital x-ray technology to obtain the highest quality images and have the convenience of managing them through computers or tablets. Some of the equipment you should consider includes:
- Intraoral sensors
- Phosphor plate systems
- Digital panoramic systems
Your sterilizing equipment should be top-of-the-line if you want to ensure proper hygiene in your new practice. You can choose from dry heat sterilizers or sterilizers that use steam. Choosing a model that sterilizes more quickly can help you save money by keeping more sterilized instruments in rotation at a time, slightly reducing the need for a larger inventory.
Adequate lighting can make the difference between a complicated operation and a successful one. It is also crucial in making accurate diagnoses. Dental lights can be mounted to nearly any surface in the office, so choose a system that will work well with the layouts of your exam and operating rooms. Lights need to be easily movable so dentists, hygienists and assistants can efficiently find the most illuminating angle for each patient.
Good quality lab equipment allows increased efficiency in pouring models, trimming them and doing polishing work. Model trimmers and lathes are some of the most commonly used equipment in a dental laboratory. Other equipment includes:
- Dust collectors
- Pneumatic chisels
Practice Management Software
While practice management software is not strictly a piece of equipment, it is a central tool for success in modern dentistry. This type of software partially or fully automates many of the tedious administrative tasks that drain employee time, allowing for more personal patient care. Practice management software is most commonly used to automate scheduling, accounting and communications with patients.
What Dental Supplies Does a New Dental Office Need?
With essential equipment covered, it’s time to turn to the supplies you will use daily. What do dental office startups need for success? We break supplies for dental practice startups down into three categories.
1. Disposable Supplies
There are many single-use supplies necessary to keep appointments going smoothly throughout the week. Examples of some crucial disposable supplies include:
- Exam gloves
- Face masks
- Air/water syringe tips
- Cotton rolls
- Barrier film
- X-ray sensor sleeves
- Dental bibs
- Sterilization pouches
- Headrest covers
- Handpiece sleeves
- Prophy cups and brushes
- Paper cups
The amount of disposable supplies needed in a dental practice startup is significant and inventory can sometimes be difficult to manage. Practice management software frequently comes with an inventory management system that can make it easy to keep track of your dental office supplies list for your startup and reorder disposable supplies in the most efficient manner.
2. Hand Instruments
When it comes to instruments, what supplies do dental startups need? Hand instruments are central to almost every task and procedure, from routine check-ups to complicated surgical procedures. General use handpieces and instruments for specific procedures are both necessary.
Examination and Diagnostic Instruments
These are the tools used most frequently during a typical day at the office, making them some of the most important supplies for dental startup practices. These tools make it possible to examine a patient’s mouth thoroughly. Some specific examination and diagnostic instruments include:
- Perio Probes
- Cotton forceps
- Mouth mirror
Hand Cutting Instruments
When it comes to removing tooth decay, hand cutting instruments provide a variety of options for dentists, hygienists and assistants to prepare teeth for restoration. The instruments used include:
- Gingival margin trimmer
When dentists or assistants need to restore teeth, these restorative instruments may be necessary:
- Amalgam carrier
- Composite placement instruments
Having the right instruments for oral surgery is essential to success. Some of the surgical instruments needed for a new practice include:
- Bone chisels and files
- Grafting instruments
- Extraction forceps
- Needle Holders
- Implant instruments
If your practice is going to perform specialty procedures, you need a quality supply of instruments. Endodontic supplies must cover all the needs of a root canal, such as excavators, dam supplies and pluggers. Orthodontic supplies must include everything needed to apply, maintain, adjust and remove braces. These supplies include cutters, pliers, scissors and gauges, among other things. Periodontal supplies consist of various curettes and scalers.
3. Accessory Instruments
It’s important to remember miscellaneous accessory instruments dentists and other staff will need for additional procedures. Some examples include:
- How pliers
- Mouth gags and retractors
- Amalgam wells
- Air/water tips
- Articulating paper holders
Do Your Research
In terms of the best strategies for buying dental equipment, performing adequate research is one of the most effective. When shopping for equipment, instruments and supplies for dental office startups, consider these methods to select the right equipment for your new dental practice.
It’s always a good idea to find out what other dentists think about brands as well as specific products. What have they used successfully in the past? What do they plan to use going forward? Ask which products they would definitely buy again, and which brands they will avoid in the future.
Read Online Reviews
Online reviews are powerful tools in weeding out poor quality instruments and equipment. However, there are tons of reviews to sift through, so break the process into the following three steps after checking the average review to make things easier.
- Start with the best: Sort by five-star reviews. Figure out what made dentists love the product, and see if you can find information about durability and comfort.
- Move to the worst: There are many one-star reviews that you can ignore. Sometimes, a reviewer gives one star because the product didn’t fit their needs, rather than because the product itself had a problem. Look out for repeated complaints about a piece of equipment, as this can indicate a widespread problem you would like to avoid.
- Check the response: You need a supply company you can trust, and the best way to gauge customer service is to check the company’s response to complaints or comments on their social media platforms. A company that is concerned with quality service will respond quickly to feedback and work to make sure customers are happy.
Research the Brand
While it’s a smart idea to work with an established brand that has a reputation for excellence, there may be benefits to choosing new equipment that doesn’t have many reviews yet. If it doesn’t have an extensive review history, you’ll need to do some further evaluation. If past products have been successful, you can usually expect that the newest offering is also of high quality. However, if a brand has a spotty history of putting out quality products, you have to fold that potential risk into your budget in case you need to replace the equipment.
ProDentUSA Is Your Partner for Dental Office Supplies
If you’re wondering how to purchase dental equipment online for your new startup, ProDentUSA is the answer. Our dental instruments come with the ProDent Promise, which guarantees your satisfaction or your money back. We pride ourselves on providing an effortless ordering process through online purchasing and always offer fast, free shipping on orders over $50. Contact us with your dental office equipment list and we can provide recommendations for the right tools for your new practice.