Should I join a DSO or own my own dental practice?

February 11, 2023

Making the decision between buying a dental practice or joining a DSODental support organizations (DSO) are here to stay. It works in the medical and dental field. Many dentists wonder if I should work for one or participate in one? As a business coach, I get this question a lot.  My answer is that it depends on what you want now and in the future. You must know your long-term goals and deal breakers.

There are many DSO’s being set up all over the United States. The reason for them is simple…it’s business. This concept allows dentists get more support than if they were in their own practice. The DSO concept is “sold” to a dentist as “you get to focus on doing dentistry on patients, deliver excellent dental care, while we help with the management and non-clinical operations. In other words, the DSO is supposed to relieve stress off your shoulders instead of you owning your own practice.

Let’s face it, we all love owning our own business, but don’t like doing the tasks outside of our actual role of the dentistry. Each DSO will vary and have a variety of pro’s and cons.

Here are the specific advantages of DSO's

  • You can serve low-income patients.
  • You are able to focus on patient care instead of the business end
  • They provide continuing education or colleagues to chat with
  • New grads may have large debt and no time to wait for income while trying to establish patients to see
  • Allows new grads to practice and gain speed
  • Having other colleagues around builds confidence
  • Shows young dentists the “real world” faster
  • A dentist can retire faster by selling their practice to a DSO or work part time for one
  • The dental practice stays up to date with technology, materials, and training
  • They negotiate with suppliers and buy in bulk
  • They have the legal support and systems in place
  • They help with the management tasks to not burden your mental energy
  • They get better rates with insurance companies, and you don’t have to hassle with the negotiations
  • They handle OSHA, HIPAA and regulations that ensure the compliance for you
  • Handle your human resources so you don’t have to hire, fire, do payroll, or deal with employee challenges.

Most of the dentists that I coach own their own dental practice and LOVE being in charge of their destiny.

The downfall with being part of a DSO's

  • You have a boss!
  • You don’t get to set your own hours or time off.
  • They have rules that you must follow.
  • Some organizations have a bad reputation, and you may be involved with it if you work there.
  • They make you sign a contract, and it can be difficult to get out of it. Some describe it worse than trying to get divorced.
  • If you feel you are treated unfair, they have the money to get the best attorneys.
  • They stop you from competing with them and you can’t practice dentistry nearby.
  • They ruin the opportunity for dentists who own their own business to make more profit because DSOs get lower costs on everything.
  • If you are not tech savvy and energized, working for a DSO may be difficult for you.

Why dentists want to own their own practice?

  • You are in charge of your own dental practice.
  • You are in charge of your schedule.
  • You are in charge of who is on the team.
  • Your income earnings and potential is limitless.
  • You have tax advantages and write offs. (Pension plans, professional dues, insurance, CE, car leases, travel expenses, meals, etc.
  • It helps with job satisfaction.
  • You have an asset and gain net worth.
  • You could develop passive income.
  • You won’t get fired and it gives a feeling of security.
  • You can expand, open up more offices, add associate dentists, etc.
  • More FREEDOM

If you can’t decide what you want to do, reach out to me! I am here to help. I have seen the mistakes that many dentists make, and I know how to minimize your risk of failure, disappointment, and stress. I am a business coach that helps your make better life long decisions.

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