What does it take to open a Dental Office?

What does it take to open a Dental Office?

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2016
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Getting a dental office up and running takes quite a bit of hard work, time, and money. If you are thinking of opening your own dental practice or if you are contemplating a career in dentistry there are some important considerations you will need to think about before deciding to open your own dental clinic.

Purchasing dental equipment and furnishing your office is only the beginning of expenses. You will also have to factor in wages, insurance, utilities, lab fees, licenses fees, and rent or mortgage for the office space. This article will try to help you understand everything that goes into starting a dental practice.

Dental Equipment and Furniture

Modern dental equipment is very expensive. Equipment using the most up-to-date technology such as laser drills, VELscope oral cancer screening equipment, digital x-ray equipment, and other dental equipment can easily cost into the mid six figure range. Often dental offices will rent these types of equipment. Think about a dream cruise around the world – this is approximately what an x-ray machine and the developer costs.

But that isn’t the only equipment required to operate a modern dental office, you will have to add the cost of dental tools and attachments, computers, an air compressor to run pumps, dental drills, and cleaning tools, and laser scanners. These are expenses that will add exponentially to your start-up budget. And don’t forget furnishings for your waiting area, and equipment and furnishings for the office staff.

Employee Wage Expenses

Are you thinking about a small dental practice or are you dreaming of opening a larger practice? A small office will require you, the dentist, a dental assistant, one or two dental hygienists, and at least one person in the reception office. A larger practice will require at least two dentists, and additional staff to provide care for patients.

In BC, wages for certified dental assistants range from $40K to $50K per year, a dental hygienist wage can average between 65K and $80K, and a receptionist salary averages about $40K per year. Wages will vary depending on experience. On average, wages will account for approximately 25% of annual office income.

Operating Expenses

Include the cost of all fees (lab, license, dental association, etc.), property and malpractice insurance, and utilities when estimating the cost of operating expenses for the office. And don’t forget the cost of continuing education to keep up-to-date on the latest dental procedures and equipment.

Rent or Mortgage Expense

When deciding how much space a dental office will require, a general rule of thumb is at least 2,000 sq ft. Space will be needed for larger pieces of equipment, exam rooms, restrooms, room for image developing equipment, reception and patient waiting areas, office space for the dentist, and other staff who require office space, and areas for staff during breaks. Large practices will require even more space.

The cost for interior construction work averages $120 per sq ft in Vancouver. To remodel a 2,000 sq ft office could cost up to $240K and that doesn’t include the cost of dental and office equipment and furnishings.


Opening a dental practice is an expensive endeavor. With initial equipment costs in the $500K ballpark and the additional cost of office space, operating expenses and wages opening a dental practice is not a decision that should be taken lightly, but when done properly is a rewarding career move.