Opening a New Dental Practice

Whether you are venturing out from being an associate or you have just graduated dental school, this could most likely be the most stressful time in your career; if not your life. The mental checklists alone are enough to drive you to the point where you wonder if it is best you stay in a practice as an associate where budgets, staff, and marketing are someone else’s problem. But, you survived dental school, you can survive this as well. While the lucky few can afford the luxury of hiring a consultant to do everything for them, the rest are left to start from scratch on their own. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

Demographic Studies and Surveying

There are many companies, including the American Dental Association that can help you research an area to open your practice. They will provide data that tells you how many dental offices are in an area and what their specialty is. Although the “cluster effect” in retail works well, a method where you may find many retailers grouped together with the mentality “If they don’t have it next door; we will”, does not work so well in dentistry. Find a city where your services are needed or where your practice can stand out and succeed. Many dentists open their practices in a community they live in or grew up in. Just make sure if you do that, the area is not blanketing with too many dental offices. You can also do surveys in the area to determine the community’s dental needs.

Set a Budget and Stick to It!

It is easy to get carried away. You have in your mind what your dream office will be. You can always expand as you grow. If you fill every operatory and buy every new piece of technology out there, you will be buried in debt. Dental supply companies offer refurbished equipment that is usually less than five years old and looks brand new. A reputable company will also offer warranties with this equipment as they would a brand new unit. If your office has four operatories, do you really need to have them ready to use immediately if you are brand new? Chances are, no. The point is to make sure you have the necessities to house a dental hygienist and yourself while you build your patient base.

Hire a Dental Team

The biggest mistake some dentists make is thinking that they can get away with the bare minimum when it comes to staff. In order for you to look professional and be ready to build your client base, you at least need a hygienist, dental assistant, and front office administrator: You also do not want to wait until you are about to open or are open to fill these positions. Your new dental team will be essential in helping you set up the office and marketing. As you begin marketing, it will be important to have someone answering your phones and making appointments prior to the office being open for business.


A great way to build your cliental is to become a part of some dental insurance programs. There are different types of dental programs: HMO, PPO, traditional, dental fee plans, and government assisted programs. In order to be a part of these programs, you must begin the process of credentialing which can be a long process depending on the insurance company and type of insurance it is. Becoming an in network provider will get your name on lists for dental offices that they refer the insured to. This could be a huge marketing tool for you.


If you have not already, it is a great idea to enroll in a dental practice management program for yourself. This type of program will help you see the administrative side of dentistry so that you can better oversee your business. As a dentist, it will only benefit you to know about insurance, reports, scheduling, and creating an office manual for your team to follow. Your name is on the door; always be aware of what is going on, especially with accounts and insurance. The investment in a continuing education program in dental management will pay for itself.

Marketing and Social Media

Would you believe that a lot of marketing can be free marketing? Social media outlets such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are huge resources for marketing your dental practice. These are great places to start. Next you should set up a website. In this day and age when people hear about a business, new or old, the first thing they do is check out the website. Have this in place before you begin advertising in local magazine and papers. Join your local Chamber of Commerce, there you will meet local business owners and network with them at events. Do not be shy and timid when it comes to marketing your business. Invite local newspapers to see your office and do an article, send your team out to other dental practices to introduce your practice to the dental community, and hand out your business cards at every opportunity you get.

Last, but not least, do not forget to breathe and utilize your resources when possible. Talk to other dentists who have opened up practices, like former classmates or people in a study club. Contact your local dental association and network with other dentists. Remember you are not the first person to take this huge step and never forget the outcome, a dental practice you can be proud of. These stressful days will one day be a distant memory.

What To Expect From Dental Assistant Training

Becoming a dental assistant is a great career move as it is a steady industry and generally provides a good working environment. There are various dental assistant training courses that you can attend, but it is a good idea to know what to expect from the course before signing on.

There are almost 300 000 dental assistants in the United States alone and it is an industry that is expected to grow over the foreseeable future. The great thing about this industry, is like most other health related fields it is a recession proof career that is largely immune from the effects of how the general economy is performing.

So what exactly does assistant do? Within a dental surgery, they perform a wide range of tasks. They meet and prepare patients for any procedures that they will be undergoing, they are responsible for the sterility of the medical equipment, they aid the dentist throughout oral procedures, teach patients about oral health, take x-rays, schedule appointments and meet with suppliers.

The type of person that this career would be right for is someone who is interested in health and they are detail oriented and caring. They should be a “people person” and enjoy interacting and communicating with others. Being able to provide a calm and reassuring presence in the surgery is great for patients who are on the nervous side when it comes to visiting dentists.

There are a number of benefits to a dental assistant career. You can find work just about anywhere as there are dental surgeries located in every big city and small hamlet from coast to coast. That means that your work will easily be able to fit in with where you want to live for the lifestyle that matches your needs. An assistant to a dentist also earns a decent pay check and they most often report a very high level of job satisfaction.

During your training you will be taught all the necessary skills to be able to perform the duties of a dentist’s assistant competently and confidently. The first skills will be in patient care, to ensure that you are able to keep them calm at all stages of procedures in the surgery. On top of this you will be taught different aspects of safety and hygiene. It is essential that the practice is a sterile environment where the risk of infection is zero.

Other aspects of the job include instructing patients in the correct manner of oral hygiene and how to manage the administration tasks of the practice.Being able to take x-rays correctly and safely is another important aspect of the job and in your training you will be taught how to effectively operate the equipment.

There are dental assistant training courses available in just about every major urban center, but you should ensure that the course you choose is accredited. You can find different courses in your area by contacting the American Dental Assistants Association or similar professional body. Upon successful completion of an accredited course you will be a certified dental assistant and you will be able to seek out employment in the industry.

How to Obtain an Education and Career in Dental Assisting

Students will need to obtain a higher education prior to pursuing careers in dental assisting. Students that are interested in this industry will find that vocational colleges offer several training opportunities. The process of obtaining an education will look different based on the college and program students choose to attend.

Education is focused on providing students with the knowledge needed to conduct patient care and office duties. This includes sterilizing dental instruments and performing laboratory tests. Three main aspects need to be completed before students have the ability to step inside the industry. This typically includes:

  • Choosing a Degree Program
  • Completing a Degree Program
  • Obtaining the Appropriate Licensure

Students can take these components used in obtaining an education to become dental assistants and apply them to their pursuit of training in the form of steps. Completing these steps will provide students with concentrated plans on entering their desired careers.

Inside the field three main educational training opportunities are available. Vocational colleges offer students the chance to work through certificate, diploma, and associates degree programs. The completion of one program is all that is needed to be eligible to enter a career as a dental assistant. Students can choose programs based on the amount of time they can give to education. Certificate programs require the least amount of schooling time and last less than one year. Diploma programs last approximately one year. Students that complete associates degree programs will need to dedicate two years to education before stepping into the industry as professionals. Once programs are chosen, students can move on to obtaining the knowledge necessary to work under dentists.

Obtaining a formal education prepares students to understand each area of the field and prepares them for their roles as professionals. Each level of training teaches students to become dental assistants. Certificate programs focus on the procedures used inside the field to assist dentists. Routine practices such as taking x-rays and managing patient files are explored through classroom lectures and clinical practice. Some states may require students to continue their education in order to be eligible to obtain licensure.

The tools and practices used in dental assisting are explored at a deeper level in diploma programs. Radiology, dental office management, and oral anatomy are course topics discussed. The training received gives students the skills needed to work in various specializations such as orthodontics, dental prosthetics, and periodontics.

Students that work through associate’s degree programs complete general education courses in biology and mathematics along with dental assisting courses. Training covers the procedures taken to remove stitches, get rid of excess cement particles, and place dental dams. Obtaining an associate’s degree gives students the highest career flexibility.

Once students complete training they need to research their states requirements on licensure. Successfully obtaining the needed licensure and completing the necessary amount of continuing education prepares students to become assistants.

Students that start by researching their options will be one step closer to accomplishing their career goals. Become a professional inside the industry by completing an accredited education in dental assisting. Accreditation comes from agencies like the Commission on Dental Accreditation and is awarded to schools and colleges that meet certain criteria and offer the best quality educational training.

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised on our website.

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP, LLC.

Dental Assistant Career Training and Study Options

Trained professionals perform the day-to-day administrative duties and procedures carried out within dental offices. Dental assistants conduct particular work tasks needed inside the industry. Educational training requirements are standard for most offices and students can obtain training by first researching the various dental assistant career training and study options.

The training requirements typically have students completing programs that last one-year. Vocational colleges suggest high school students that know they want to enter this field to take courses in health, chemistry, and office practices if available. By obtaining a certificate or diploma students are able to fully understand all the needed concepts to be successful. Training programs offer students the skills needed by providing coursework that focuses exclusively on professional duties. Students step into careers having the knowledge to perform tasks that include:

  • Disinfecting Instruments
  • Updating Patient Dental Records
  • Chair-side Assistance

Depending on the office being worked for dental assistants may also prepare impressions, remove sutures, and apply anesthetics to gums. As the field has progressed many states are expanding career skills to include more clinical duties. Students can expect to perform coronal polishing and restorative dentistry practices. Students can learn these duties and more by working through programs at one of several vocational colleges that offers training.

Certificate programs usually take a little less than one-year to complete. Coursework immediately introduces students to the techniques used in the field to assists dentists. Taking x-rays and up updating dental records are major areas of training. Once students have a solid base understanding of the theories behind the field they enter clinical training. Theory courses can include dental office procedure and dental science. Clinical courses provide students with opportunities to establish skills working with dentists and performing procedures they will be expected to understand on-the-job.

Diploma programs are very similar to certificate programs but give students more clinical training and cover more topics. They last one-year and develop the tools needed to address all work related areas. Topics may include courses in human biology, radiology, oral anatomy, and dental office management. Programs are great for preparing students for traditional roles as dental assistants as well as concentrated duties. Programs at this level allow students to work exclusively in areas such as orthodontics and periodontics. Whether completing a certificate or diploma program students need to become certified. Most states require students to complete examinations offered by the Dental Assisting National Board.

Continuing education is essential to understand the latest trends in the field. New developments and practices are covered in seminars that the American Dental Assistant Association provides. Students can also complete associates degree programs. Students will gain management techniques that help them gain promotions. A large portion of training is spent in clinical rotations. Specific training options are offered for certification such as dental infection control and dental radiography.

The dental industry provides students with multiple educational options at the vocational level of training. Students are able to start careers within a year or so by completing accredited dental assisting degree programs. The Commission on Dental Accreditation ( is able to accredit the programs that offer quality educational training.

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised on our website.

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP, LLC.

Health Insurance And Dental Benefits In The U.S.

The dental benefits industry quickly grew out of the blossoming health insurance market. Hopefully, we can better appreciate the dental benefits industry by becoming more familiar with its roots and natural progression.

Health insurance began to appear in the United States around 1850 and it only offered benefits to those who were disabled by accidental injury.5 Benefits for medical treatment didn’t begin to emerge until 1910, and coverage for hospital, surgical, medical and nursing care expenses began in 1930.5 The earliest health insurance models were traditional fee-for-service plans (also known as indemnity insurance plans). They were quickly followed by numerous prepaid health plans, considered the precursors to today’s managed care insurance models including health maintenance organizations (HMO) and preferred provider organizations (PPO).

The first instance of managed care insurance came about in 1917 in Tacoma, Washington when the Western Clinic began providing the lumber industry with prepaid physician services.6 In 1929, Dr. Justin Ford Kimball was instrumental in establishing the Blue Cross brand by introduced a prepaid hospitalization plan for local teachers sponsored by Baylor Hospital in Texas.6 The Blue Shield program was adopted in 1939 for participating prepaid physician plans.6

One of the pioneers responsible for making quality healthcare and insurance available to Americans was industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. In 1938, Kaiser recruited Dr. Garfield to help create prepaid clinic and hospital care for his Grand Coulee Dam project.6 In 1942, Kaiser and Dr. Garfield established a prepaid healthcare program for the employees of Kaiser shipyards and Kaiser steel mills that helped popularize health maintenance organizations.7 Kaiser Permanente remains prominent in the HMO insurance market to this day.3

By 1949, there were 81 Blue Cross hospital plans and 44 Blue Shield medical insurance plans, covering a total of 24 million Americans.6 Blue Cross companies and Blue Shield insurance plans covered 52 million and 40 million Americans respectively by 1959.6 After merging, Blue Cross Blue Shield collectively covered 87.4 million Americans by 1979.6 So Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of today’s top insurance providers, was very influential in the early managed care insurance movement.

Benefits grew and expanded in the 1950s as traditional fee-for-service health insurance plans flourished and coverage expanded to include other expenses, such as vision care.3 Most insured individuals were covered by either Blue Cross Blue Shield or by private commercial insurance companies at this time.3 Despite this progress, the 1960s and 1970s brought about a tumultuous time for the health insurance industry.

The term “Health Maintenance Organization” was coined in 1970 by Paul Ellwood, who was instrumental in promoting the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Act.6 HMO insurance came about as the insurance marketplace adjusted to employers’ and individual consumers’ concerns with the high premiums associated with traditional indemnity insurance.

After debating various bills for a national health insurance plan in the 1960s and 1970s, Congress passed the Health Maintenance Organization Act in 1973.6 This Act provided grants to employers who implemented HMO insurance – considered cost-effective alternatives to private doctors and hospitals – and effectively encouraged employers to provide their employees with health benefits.

At first, HMO insurance was perceived as providing better value than traditional indemnity insurance, due to lower premiums. Yet employers and individual consumers quickly began to backlash against the strict restrictions, poor service and other limitations associated with HMO insurance. The first annual decline in national HMO enrollment was seen in 2000.6 As a result of employers’ and consumers’ concerns with restrictions and service, modern day PPO insurance began to surface in the 1980s as an alternative to HMO insurance. The choices and service provided by PPO insurance was very well received, despite having higher premiums. By 2006, the national HMO enrollment grew to 67.7 million and PPO enrollment grew to 108 million.6

During the 1970s, those responsible for paying for healthcare – consumers, employers, and taxpayers – saw that the associated costs were becoming unmanageable.3 This concern with the cost of benefits was not exclusive to the health insurance industry and it quickly crossed over into other markets, including the dental benefits industry.

The dental benefits industry in the U.S. began as a by-product of the health insurance industry. Supposedly, the nation’s first dental insurance plan was instituted in 1883 by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway’s Hospital Association.8 Introduced in 1959 on a group basis, traditional dental insurance plans encouraged preventive care and reimbursed the insured for the cost of dental services.5

Dental HMO insurance quickly became more popular than its more expensive counterpart, traditional dental indemnity insurance. Dental PPO insurance provided consumers with better service and fewer restrictions than dental HMO insurance, despite the higher premiums. Discount dental plans, an easy-to-use and cost-effective alternative to dental insurance, became a significant part of the industry during the mid-1990s.9 Discount dental plans provided consumers with the value they desired by offering access to affordable, quality dental care at a low price and with an emphasis on choice and service.

At first, the majority of people with dental benefits received them only through their employers. Despite this welcomed advancement, a large percentage of Americans still did not enjoy access to affordable dental care. Unfortunately, many employers did not offer dental benefits and individual dental insurance remained too cost-prohibitive to become a viable alternative. The dental benefits industry began to adjust and progress to fill the growing need for affordable dental benefits. The dental benefits industry began to experience a shift away from the high premiums of dental indemnity insurance as well as the poor service and strict limitations of dental HMO insurance, and toward the greater value, choice and service offered by dental PPO insurance and discount dental plans.