Dental Practice Ownership: Critical Mistakes New Dentists Make

Interviewer: Tanya Sue Maestas, DDS
Interviewee: Jonathan Miller
Edited By: Candy Velez – CRDH, BSDH

In this article, Jonathan Miller shares valuable insights into the critical mistakes he has observed dentists make and provides guidance on navigating the startup and acquisition process.

Mistake 1: Not Understanding the Importance of Where to Start

One common mistake dentists make is not having a clear starting point in their journey toward dental practice ownership.

Jonathan emphasizes the significance of understanding the starting point:

“Not knowing where to start is usually the number one thing holding doctors back from becoming an owner.”

He compares this to the process of getting into dental school, where there are clear steps to follow. Dentists must identify their first step, which may involve gaining real-world experience by working in different practice settings.

Jonathan advises dentists to consider their personal life and goals before diving into practice ownership. He highlights the importance of aligning personal and professional aspirations, stating,

“You cannot have an awesome personal life and have a crappy professional life.”

Dentists should take the time to explore different paths, such as working in a DSO or private practice, to better understand the business of dentistry.

Mistake 2: Not Understanding the Time Horizon of Practice Ownership

Understanding the concept of a time horizon is crucial for dentists embarking on their practice ownership journey.

Jonathan draws a parallel between children’s development milestones and the progression of dentists in their careers. He explains,

“There’s a time horizon to this stuff. And so some of this is just about understanding that there’s a time horizon, which is different for all of us.”

Jonathan suggests that dentists should give themselves time to achieve their goals rather than feeling pressured to meet specific milestones. He encourages dentists to focus on their own pace and follow a path that aligns with their unique circumstances. He adds,

“There isn’t any one way to go down the practice ownership path, and there isn’t any one way to make a practice successful.”

Dentists should seek guidance from experts and mentors who can provide insights into their chosen path and help them navigate the challenges along the way.

Mistake 3: Not Understanding the Flexibility of Practice Ownership

Jonathan emphasizes that practice ownership is not for everyone and that it is essential for dentists to assess their suitability for this role. He states,

“One of the mistakes is practice ownership is not for everybody.”

Dentists should consider their personal preferences, financial goals, and risk tolerance before committing to practice ownership.

Exploring alternative paths, such as partnership tracks or joining innovative DSO models, can give dentists the flexibility they desire while still allowing them to practice dentistry.

Mistake 4: Not Understanding the Impact of Real-World Education

Real-world education plays a significant role in the success of dentists in their practice ownership journey.

Jonathan highlights the importance of gaining practical experience and learning from the challenges and successes of others. He suggests dentists consider pursuing residency programs, such as AGD or GPR, to enhance their clinical skills and gain exposure to different practice settings.

Jonathan also emphasizes the value of seeking out mentors and experts who can provide guidance and support. He states,

“If you have an idea on how to do it, you need to have somebody in your corner to say, ‘Hey, that can work as long as you follow these guidelines.'”

Dentists should leverage the knowledge and experience of industry professionals to make informed decisions and avoid common pitfalls.

Conclusion and Future Outlook

Dentists should approach practice ownership carefully and seek expert guidance to maximize their chances of success.

The dental industry will continue to evolve, presenting new opportunities and challenges for aspiring practice owners.

Dentists must stay adaptable and open to different paths, leveraging their unique skills and experiences to create thriving practices.

By learning from the mistakes of others and embracing a growth mindset, dentists can navigate the complexities of practice ownership and build thriving dental practices.

Thought Leadership Summary: Fueling Dental Success with Jonathan Miller

Jonathan’s expertise in helping dentists start or acquire their own practices has provided valuable guidance on avoiding common mistakes in the dental industry.

By understanding the importance of knowing where to start, embracing a time horizon, assessing personal suitability, and gaining real-world education, dentists can navigate the path to practice ownership with confidence and success.

The future of the dental industry holds exciting possibilities for aspiring practice owners, and by staying adaptable and open to new opportunities, dentists can build thriving practices that align with their personal and professional goals.

Until next time, keep learning, keep exploring, and fuel your dental dreams with knowledge!

Photo by RDNE Stock project

Tanya Sue Maestas, DDS

Tanya Sue Maestas, DDS

Dr. Tanya Sue Maestas graduated from The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston in 2018. During her dental school career, she served as the national American Student Dental Association President and became involved in organized dentistry. After graduating, she completed an Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency in 2019. Upon completion of her residency, she returned to the El Paso Borderland community where she serves as a Dental Director at La Clinica de Familia in Chaparral, New Mexico. She also serves as a faculty member at the Woody L Hunt School of Dental Medicine in El Paso, Texas. She remains involved in organized dentistry and holds various leadership roles in organizations including the American Dental Association, Texas Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, Texas Academy of General Dentistry, Hispanic Dental Association, and others. She currently serves on the ADA Council on Communications and previously completed the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership Program. She was recognized as an ADA 10 under 10 winner, Incisal Edge 40 under 40, and previously nominated as one of Texas New Dentists of the Year. She currently hosts New Dentists on the Block where she helps showcase the New Dentist story and build connections with new dentists around her and Dental Fuel a podcast dedicated to sharing and learning from industry leaders’ mistakes. She has a commitment to providing dental care to the Borderland community and hopes to encourage the next generation of dentists to give back to the community.