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For newer dentists, and quite a few established dentists, the dream of a solo practice is beginning to resemble a nightmare.

The amount of dental-school debt new graduates carry is staggering. Servicing that debt makes establishing a new solo practice far more difficult than it has been in the past. Established dentists are finding themselves squeezed by corporate dentistry and declining reimbursements.

Compliance and reporting requirements, insurance, and human resources activities are also more complex and time-intensive today.

The number of group dental practices in the U.S. is increasing significantly, and the factors listed above are driving that growth. Group practices typically take one of three forms.

Traditional: Usually co-located in the same building (which they may own), several dentists jointly hold ownership and responsibility.  

Dental Support Organization (DSO): In this model, the DSO provides contracted services for the non-clinical aspects of practice operation. Larger group practices using the DSO model may have offices with various specialists in addition to general dentists.

Geographic: Several practices in the same geographical area share administrative, management, and financial personnel. Each practice may employ between one and three dentists, and ownership is typically vested in a dentist corporation or other entity. Costs are spread out and reduced per office. This model allows dentists to keep the small-office feel and still enjoy a significant degree of autonomy.

So, is a group practice right for you? Here are some pros and cons.


  • Additional dentists in a practice add revenue streams and create greater financial security.
  • Overhead is reduced, adding to profitability.
  • Depending on the model, the practice will be able to offer a wider range of services.
  • Coverage for emergencies, vacations, and conferences is assured.
  • Dentists can focus on treating patients, not management duties.


  • Again depending  on the practice model, dentists may lose autonomy.
  • Personality issues and conflicting goals may cause significant problems in dentist-owned group practices.
  • Dissolving a partnership or corporation is messy, stressful, and expensive.

Obviously, dentists should perform extensive due diligence before entering into a group practice.

If a group practice isn’t for you, there is another solution to realizing success as solo practitioner, and that’s to attract more and better patients.

With increased revenues, the dental solopreneur can afford to hire staff or a company to professionally manage the non-clinical aspects of the business. Even in the face of corporate dentistry, increased competition, and declining reimbursements, the solo dental practitioner can succeed.

If you are interested in finding out how Dr. Raleigh Pioch went from $800K in collections to $3.2 million in only 6 years facing one of the most competitive markets in the country, get a free download of our case study at www.piochcasestudy.com.

Once you’ve had a chance to study how Dr. Pioch succeeded brilliantly despite fierce competition, go to smartboxdental.com/blueprint and schedule a Patient Attraction Blueprint™ session. They are free to serious dentists who want to see a patient attraction system that can double their practice. You can get more patients, more profits, and more freedom.


Written by Smartbox

SmartBox employs the best minds in dentistry to help you grow your practice. Our Practice Growth System™ is proven to help dentists in every market area across the country achieve predictable year-over-year growth.