First of all, congratulations and good luck on your new endeavor! Starting a new dental practice is a tremendous challenge, but also an exciting opportunity, with the potential for a lifetime of rewards.
Of course, there is a whole host of considerations to keep in mind and details to attend to when planning a start up. Books have been written on the subject. Rather than try to cover everything here, we’re going to focus on equipment.
In any start-up, cash is king, so be careful about how much you spend and on what.
Will custom granite counter tops in your lab bring in more patients than Formica™? Will patients even see them? Avoid the temptation to purchase too many "wants." Rather, focus on what you actually need to practice dentistry first. Once you have cash flow, that is when you can start to spruce up your new practice.
To practice dentistry, you’ll need a good compressor and central vacuum. You’ll need x-rays and a sterilizer. You’ll need chairs, units, lights, handpieces, and instruments. That’s about all you really need to practice dentistry. Everything else is window dressing that may make dentistry easier or more enjoyable, but isn’t required by any means.
To equip your operatories, you can get great new equipment with a great warranty without breaking the bank. One of the reasons we carry brands like Beaverstate and DCI is the tremendous value they offer. Pricing on these brands can be less than ½ of the big brands, without sacrificing quality.
Used equipment can sometimes help you save as well, but be careful about from whom you purchase. Make sure the company will stand behind the equipment and has done a quality job of refurbishing it. A new coat of paint can make a worn out unit look good, but without proper rebuilding, it may be a lemon. We’ve worked with many practices in the past using a mix of new and used equipment successfully. Our equipment specialists will be happy to discuss any particular equipment you may be considering.
Depending on where you are located, on site support may be difficult or expensive in your area, in such a case, you should look to equipment you can service on your own more readily. Most of the 2nd tier brands (Beaverstate, DCI, Engle, Forest, Marus, etc.) will provide a wide range of available sources for parts and are comparatively easy to work on. Older (pre-2000) A-dec units will also fit into this category, but again, be mindful about purchasing used equipment from a reputable company who does a good job of properly refurbishing.
Most importantly, starting up will give you a great chance to start educating yourself before you open your doors. Our DIY approach to equipment installation and maintenance can provide a great foundation for you and your practice. Independence often starts with installing your own equipment and only improves from there.
Or course, our Practice Tips newsletter is replete with information to help you gain independence. We've spent over 8 years compiling helpful information to help keep you up and running independent of expensive service calls. And it's not just repairs or service, there are also issues on maintenance, equipment features, and practice management (like the issue you’re reading now). In particular, check out Practice Tips #86, #69, and #38 all of which discuss installation of particular pieces of equipment.
When it comes to specific designs or types of equipment, trust yourself and your own experience. Have you already worked as an associate or have you taken over an old practice? In either case, did you notice anything about the equipment you were using? Were there things about it you found helpful? Things about it you really disliked? Your own experience and the preferences you've developed should be paramount in your decision making process.
Not only does American dental offer a full library of resources for you, we also offer a vast array of replacement parts for all the aforementioned brands and our knowledgeable techs are here to support you with free remote technical support on any equipment and parts we sell.
A lot of the above applies equally to replacing old equipment in an established practice as well. When you’re empowered with the knowledge we provide, you are equipped to save.