Navigating Dental Practice Ownership: Rural vs. Urban Opportunities

By: Dr. Hannah Crowell

Are you a dental professional considering taking the leap into practice ownership?

One of the critical decisions you’ll face is choosing between a rural or urban area for your practice location. Each option comes with its own set of advantages and challenges.

Exploring the pros and cons of buying a dental practice in both rural and metropolitan areas will help you make an informed decision that is best for you. 

Dental Practice Ownership in Rural Locations


  • Lower Competition: Rural areas typically have fewer dentists per capita compared to metropolitan areas. This can translate to less competition for patients and potentially higher patient loyalty once you establish your practice in the community. 
  • Tighter-Knit Community: Rural communities often have a strong sense of camaraderie and support. Building relationships with patients may be easier in a smaller town where everyone knows each other. 
  • Lower Overhead Costs: Operating expenses such as rent, utilities, and employee wages are often lower in rural areas compared to metropolitan areas. This can contribute to higher profit margins for your practice. 
  • Lifestyle Benefits: Rural living offers a slower pace of life, cleaner air, and closer proximity to nature. A rural practice might be ideal for you if you value work-life balance and a peaceful environment. 


  • Limited Patient Pool: The population in rural areas is smaller, which means your potential patient base may be limited. This could impact your ability to grow your practice quickly and may require more effort in marketing and patient outreach. 
  • Recruitment Challenges: Finding skilled staff, such as dental hygienists or office managers, can be more challenging in rural areas. Limited job opportunities may lead to fewer qualified candidates applying for positions at your practice. 
  • Limited Specialty Services: Patients in rural areas may need to travel long distances to access specialized dental services. This could result in lower acceptance rates for certain treatments and referrals to larger cities for complex procedures. 

Dental Practice Ownership in Urban Locations


  • Large Patient Pool: Metropolitan areas are densely populated, offering a vast pool of potential patients from diverse backgrounds. This can provide ample opportunities for practice growth and specialization. 
  • Access to Specialists: In metropolitan areas, you’ll have easier access to specialists and referral networks for complex cases. This can enhance the scope of services you offer and improve patient satisfaction. 
  • Higher Income Potential: With a larger patient base and higher demand for dental services, you may have the potential to generate higher revenue in a metropolitan practice. This can offset the higher cost of living and overhead expenses associated with urban areas. 
  • Networking Opportunities: Metropolitan areas often have vibrant dental communities with opportunities for networking, continuing education, and professional development. 


  • Intense Competition: Competition among dentists in metropolitan areas can be fierce, making it challenging to stand out and attract patients. You’ll need a robust marketing strategy to differentiate your practice from others in the area. 
  • Higher Overhead Costs: Rent, utilities, and other operating expenses tend to be higher in metropolitan areas. This can eat into your profits and require careful financial planning to ensure long-term sustainability. 
  • Traffic and Commute Times: High-populated areas are notorious for traffic congestion and long commute times. This can be stressful for both you and your staff, affecting morale and work-life balance. 
  • Cost of Living: The cost of living in metropolitan areas is typically higher than in rural areas. Housing, transportation, and other expenses may be more expensive, impacting your personal finances and quality of life. 

Rural vs. Urban Dental Practice Ownership

In conclusion, both rural and metropolitan areas offer unique opportunities and challenges for dental practice ownership.

It’s essential to carefully consider your personal preferences, professional goals, and financial considerations before deciding where you want to spend your career.

Curious about what practices are available out there? Check out Provide’s practice marketplace. You can always reach out to the professionals at Provide to discuss your goals. They will work with you to help you discover the best path forward.

Whether you thrive in the close-knit community of a rural town or prefer the hustle and bustle of a city, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

By weighing the pros and cons outlined above, you can form a goal that aligns with your vision for your dental career and ideal practice.

Keep Reading: Buying a Dental Practice vs. Investing in a Start-Up

Dr. Hannah Crowell

Dr. Hannah Crowell

Dr. Hannah Crowell is a graduate of The Ohio State Dental School and is practicing as a general dentist in Houston, Texas. She happily lives there with her husband (also a general dentist), their three young children, and their pup. She is kept busy with her work and family, but enjoys hanging out with family and friends, road trips (with many necessary pit stops due to feisty toddlers), and exploring new cities and the great outdoors whenever she gets the opportunity!