Are you in the process of launching a new dental clinic? Great! You have the potential to run a highly profitable business and put your skills as a dental professional to good use. However, setting up your dental office properly is essential to running a successful dental practice.

Dental offices need unique setups compared to many other healthcare practices. Not only do you need to create an efficient layout, but you also need to consider how you will mitigate patients’ dental anxieties and create a pleasant environment.

Read on to learn our essential guide to creating the perfect dental office setup.

Is Owning a Dental Office Profitable?

Before you begin planning a new dental practice, you need to consider: will launching a dental office be a profitable business venture?

Many dentists work in existing practices their whole careers without ever starting their own practice. However, if you’re looking to maximize your income as a dentist, you may consider opening a new dental practice.

According to a report from the American Dental Association, the average net income for general dental clinic owners in 2018 was $190,440.¹ The average gross billings for a general practice dentist was $715,350 annually.

Of course, dental practice profitability can vary significantly from practice to practice. Your dental office needs to minimize overhead costs to remain afloat as you launch your new dental practice. Utilizing an efficient dental office design with the right dental equipment and layout can help you avoid overspending as you prepare your dental care clinic.

How Many Square Feet Do You Need for a Dental Office?

If you’re purchasing an office space in an existing building, you may not have much control over the square footage. However, before you sign a rental contract, you should ensure that the building has enough space to accommodate an effective office layout without including unnecessary square footage.

The American Dental Association recommends considering your dental office size in terms of your expected maximum production in ten years. Your office needs to have enough space to accommodate the number of operatories you plan to implement once your practice reaches its peak performance.

The organization published a guide to help dentists determine a rough estimate of the square footage they need.² This guide recommends using the following formula:

Number of Operatories * Square Footage of Operatories / .275 = Square Footage of New Dental Office

You’ll first need to determine how many operatories your dental practice needs. You should plan to include at least five operatories in your practice to have plenty of space for each dental procedure. Making these operatories multi-purpose can enhance flexibility as you determine optimal scheduling for your new private practice.

How Do I Organize My Dental Office?

As you prepare your new dental clinic for opening, you need to consider every detail involved in its operation. Strategically planning the office’s network setup, equipment, operatories, and procedures can ensure that you leave no stone unturned for your practice’s launch.

Here is some more information about how to organize your new dental office:

Dental Office Network Setup

Incorporating the right technology into your dental office can ensure that you stay up to date with the latest trends and streamline processes using modern systems. One of the first technological advancements you should implement in your practice is a dental office network setup.

Dental software can streamline dental assistance communication, automate appointment scheduling, simplify billing and insurance verification, and enhance the patient experience. Having your network software in place before you begin accepting new patients can ensure a smooth scheduling experience and save you time as you manage other tasks in your new dental practice.

Dental Office Equipment

Of course, your dental practice also needs all the equipment necessary to perform each dental procedure you offer to patients. Additionally, you probably need several sets of most tools and equipment to ensure that a set is always available.

Here is the basic dental equipment your practice needs:

  • Dental chairs
  • Dental lights
  • Dental utility equipment, such as saliva ejector instruments and pressurized air
  • Sterilization area equipment
  • X-ray imaging equipment
  • Dental operatory cabinetry
  • Handpieces

You can purchase equipment through a professional dental supplier. However, before you start adding items to your cart, be sure to calculate how many of each item you will need based on the number of operatories and treatment rooms in your dentist practice.

Additionally, while it may be tempting to cut corners by purchasing the cheapest dental equipment you can find, we recommend viewing your purchases as an investment. High-quality dental equipment can last many years and save your clinic money over time.

How Do I Set Up a Dental Operatory?

Your dental operatory design can significantly affect your efficiency, safety, and professionalism when running your clinic. As a result, planning this layout strategically is essential.

First, you should consider the overall goals of the operatory design. For example, you probably want your dental treatment room to be:

  • Comfortable for patients
  • Functional for you and your dental staff members
  • Intuitive, so you can quickly locate equipment
  • Clean, allowing for effective sterilization and infection control procedures

Once you have nailed down the qualities you want your treatment room design to include, you can begin planning the design. Here are the steps you can follow to create the perfect treatment room layout:

  1. Create a list of the equipment you need in the room.
  2. Determine the right dental operatory size.³
  3. Consider the best way to position the equipment in the room.
  4. Plan around the outlets and doorways in the room.
  5. Consider how you will hide the cables from the dental equipment.
  6. Consult the other dental professionals you will work with.
  7. Ensure that your layout meets OSHA standards and regulations in your state.

Small Dental Office Design Ideas

Once you figure out the logistics of how you will place equipment in your treatment rooms, you can begin to get creative with your dental office design.

The overall atmosphere in your clinic can play a significant role in patient satisfaction and your dental office branding. You may think that having a small dentist office limits your ability to get creative with the design. In reality, you can still implement fun designs in your office.

Here are a few tips to enhance your dental office design:

  • Consider an open layout if you have limited room for individual treatment rooms.
  • Use calming colors in your decor, carpet, and paint in the waiting room to reduce patient anxiety.
  • Consider adding televisions above patients’ chairs in treatment rooms.
  • Showcase your personal interests or style in the design to help patients get to know you.
  • Consider your target patient base and plan your design with their needs in mind.

Planning your small dental office layout strategically can ensure that you use your space efficiently while creating the best atmosphere for your patients and staff.

Dental Office Design Architects

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task of designing your dental setting, you can consider hiring a design architect to assist you. Professional designers know the best ways to position equipment and furniture in a room to maximize space and efficiency. They can also help you choose colors and decor items to produce a welcoming atmosphere in your dental clinic.

You can find numerous companies that excel in dental office design. Many of these companies offer free consultations, allowing you to understand their vision better before hiring them.

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Hassle-Free Dental Office Team Communication

Finally, before you open your dentistry clinic, you must implement effective communication methods between dental assistants. Without open, clear communication, you risk errors that could impact the patient care experience and your overall clinic reputation. Additionally, communication is essential to prevent turnover and keep your employees happy in their jobs.

Investing in a practice management software allows your dental staff to communicate in real-time through instant messaging on any device. Team members can have this software on their in-office computers, personal smartphones, tablets, and the other devices necessary to stay connected.

With an integrated team communication platform, you can:

  • Send automatic appointment reminders through text or email
  • Have back-and-forth communication with patients
  • Immediately see a complete patient profile whenever a patient calls your dentist office
  • Send billing reminders to patients and allow them to pay bills through their smartphones
  • Send automatic review requests that invite patients to leave reviews of your practice after each appointment
  • Streamline insurance verification processes

Be sure to do your research and find a communication platform that supports dental industry standards and requirements, like HIPAA and privacy regulations. This platform can enhance your new dental office in many ways, setting you up for success.

Altogether, your dental office setup plays a significant role in your success as a new dental practice. Having the proper layout, equipment, design, and communication software can help your business become profitable and remain successful for years to come.

Additionally, incorporating Weave into your new dental office can streamline communication with staff and patients. Request a free Weave demo to learn more about how this software can transform your dental clinic.


  1. American Dental Association
  2. Determining the ideal size and space of your practice
  3. How large is an ideal operatory?