How to Make $ in Private Practice Dentistry: PART 1

This is part 1 of a three part series which focuses on how to make $ in private practice dentistry. In each post I'll highlight one of the 3 misconceptions...

Three Common Misconceptions

1) It will be easy to fill my schedule with patients and treatment...            (Truth ~ I didn't realize how hard it is to fill chairs and get treatment scheduled).

2) Doing dentistry (being 'busy') means my day will be profitable...     (Truth ~ I had to learn how to be efficient, tactical and organized in order to become profitable).

 3) Ownership automatically equals a bigger paycheck...                               (Truth ~ Ownership CAN offer a great income...but it comes with a whole NEW reality: overhead, MORE debt and a dire need to learn dental business...)

I wouldn't say that my expectations were completely 'unrealistic' as a dental student. But, looking back...I now realize that there are some harsh realities about earning a paycheck that I did not yet understand. One these realities is this: patients do not just 'show up' out of thin air...and you have to work hard to keep your schedule filled. Here are a couple basic rules for filling your schedule...and staying profitable.

 a) Do more exams:  Yes, seems logical...the more exams you do, the more treatment for your doctor column. But at many times the solution to a problem IS that simple. Get more patients + Do more exams = More scheduled treatment.

b) See more new patients: These treatment plans are critical to profitability and filling your schedule. New patient treatment plans are usually the largest and most comprehensive. They can offer a fresh infusion of high value treatment blocks to fill your day. 

c) Build trust and develop great treatment presentation skills: To build a great and profitable practice you must focus on establishing deep trusting relationships with your patients. You must also develop excellent treatment presentation skills...SO that your patients perceive the value of the treatment you offer them - and they buy what you have to offer.

d) Build great systems to make sure your patients actually get treatment scheduled and ON THE BOOKS:  Attempt to schedule patients the same day you present treatment. AND, have a system for following with patients that have unscheduled treatments needs. 

e) Be eager and prepared to complete 'same day dentistry': The best time to complete needed treatment is RIGHT NOW. If you have openings...offer to get things started NOW.           

Once patients start filling your chairs you should work to create comprehensive treatment plans...but work with patients to stage them in a way that is not too intimidating/overwhelming. When you schedule these treatment appointments you MUST learn to group several procedures into a single appointment. This means quadrant dentistry; and bundling procedures into a single visit (example ~ adding fillings into your crown prep appointments or whitening impressions after your prophy appointments). You must minimize the number of small single procedure appointments. 

Think more about your overhead. What is your cost per hr? What is you income per procedure? Train yourself and present elective treatment options (these are a great income source, patients love them and actually ASK for these types of treatments!) learn to do them, offer them and do them well. 

Next ~ Part 2  " Doing dentistry (being 'busy') means my day will be profitable...    

~ Cole Brenny DDS

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Here's a little lesson about WHY this is important to think about...


My Cost Per Hr (1 DOLLAR every 20 Seconds!)

Overhead $280,000/Year

Hours 1500/Year

280,000/1500 = $186 Per Hour

 Even if you are an thinking about this...You need to COLLECT $186 an hour just to break even! Your reimbursement for a 3 surface anterior composite (if you have to bill it through a PPO plan) may only be $150! You LOST $36.