7 Steps To Buying Your 1st Practice: A Guide For Dentists

dentist office for sale

In dental school, we learn all about patient care, cavities, and oral hygiene. But most of us never learn how to maximize our returns on the countless hours invested in learning our craft. Buying and owning a practice is one of the most financially rewarding things dentists can do, but it can be a really overwhelming process.

That’s why we interviewed 139(!!) dental practice owners to come up with the 7 steps to guarantee success in buying your first dental practice. These steps are based on the real-world experiences of successful dentists, and they will help you avoid the common pitfalls that can derail even the best-laid plans.


1. Do plenty of research. 

When doing your research, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • The demographics of the area. What is the population size and demographics of the area where you want to buy a practice? What are the average incomes and education levels? What are the health insurance options available?
  • The competition. How many other dental practices are in the area? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • The average prices for practices in the area. What is the average price for a dental practice in the area? What are the factors that affect the price of a practice?

All this said…if you are like most dentists and tend to over analyze…don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis! There are limits to what you can learn without hands-on experience.

2. Get financing.

This tends to be one of the things that scares dentists most. Especially after graduating with hefty student loan debt, the thought of taking on even MORE debt sounds like a nightmare. But, when I began my journey, I was shocked to learn just how simple financing really was. Banks LOVE dentists. We are reliable and almost never default on our loans. There are a number of different financing options available for buying a dental practice. To get started:

  • Call a lender at a well-known bank. A lender at a large bank can walk you through every step of the process and provide you with all of the information you need to know.
  • Call another lender. Don’t be afraid to talk to a few experts and compare the information you receive. Move forward with the lender that makes you feel most comfortable and has the best offer for your situation.
  • SBA loans. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers loans to small businesses, including dental practices. SBA loans typically have lower interest rates and longer repayment terms than bank loans.

3. Find a good broker.

A good broker can be invaluable in the buying process. Buyers do not pay any fees for using a broker. They can help you find the right practice for you, negotiate the price, and handle all the paperwork. When looking for a broker, it’s important to find someone who is experienced in the dental industry and who has a good reputation.

4. Inspect the practice.

Once you’ve found a practice that you’re interested in, it’s important to inspect it thoroughly. This includes checking the equipment, the facilities, and the patient records. When inspecting the equipment, make sure that it is up-to-date and in good working condition. When inspecting the facilities, make sure that they are clean and well-maintained. When inspecting the patient records, make sure that they are complete and accurate. Don’t be afraid to ask questions around marketing efforts, patient retention, and staff tenure!

5. Negotiate the price.

The price of a dental practice is negotiable, so it is common to bargain. The broker can help you with this. When negotiating the price, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • The value of the practice.
  • The condition of the practice.
  • The competition.
  • The seller’s motivation.

6. Sign the contract.

Once you’ve agreed on a price, you’ll need to sign a contract. This is a legally binding document, so it’s important to read it carefully before you sign it. Don’t feel bad asking your Broker as many questions as you need about the contract. The contract should include the following information:

  • The purchase price.
  • The terms of payment.
  • The closing date.
  • The representations and warranties of the seller.
  • The indemnities of the seller.
  • The dispute resolution process.

7. Close the deal.

Once the contract is signed, it’s time to close the deal. This involves transferring the money, signing the necessary paperwork, and taking possession of the practice. When closing the deal, it’s important to have a lawyer present to make sure that everything is done correctly.


Here are some bonus tips that you may consider:

  • Look for a practice that is in a good location. Consider the patient demographic that you want to serve. Is the practice you are evaluating conveniently located for your ideal patient base? Is the neighborhood growing? Does the practice have visibility from the road or is it challenging to locate? These are all important considerations for your new practice!
  • Make sure that the practice has a good reputation. This will make it easier for you to retain existing patients. Check out Zocdoc. Google the practice and read the reviews. What do patients like about the practice and what do they want to see done differently?
  • Be prepared to invest in the practice. This may include upgrading the equipment, updating the facilities, or hiring new staff.

Congratulations on embarking on the journey to owning your own practice! Buying my 1st practice was quite literally the best financial decision I have ever made and I hope these tips help you in your own process!


Dr. Wesley