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How to open a dental practice
Business advice

How to open a dental practice

12 July 2021

4 min read

Opening a dental practice is an opportunity to run a popular local business while contributing to good public health. But given the complexities of dentistry in the UK, with a mixture of private and NHS patients, knowing how to open a dental practice may take a bit of homework. In this guide we aim to explain how to start a dental clinic business that keeps you and your patients smiling.

How dentistry works in the UK

There are two types of dental care in the UK – private and NHS – but most dental practices tend to serve both private and NHS patients. So, if you’ve decided to open a dental practice from scratch, a key decision will be about deciding your patient profile, which we’ll cover later. Whichever route you take, all UK dentists are obliged to register with the General Dental Council, while the British Dental Association provides further guidance on opening a private dental practice.

Should I open a private or NHS dental practice?

When you start your dental practice, you can agree to treat NHS patients, private patients, or a combination of both. If you serve NHS patients, one potential advantage is the prospect of regular income – you could receive monthly payments after you’ve agreed a contract with your local NHS England regional team or health board, and informed them about which treatments you will offer patients . But in choosing whether to open a dental practice for private or NHS patients, you would need to decide whether the NHS fees are high enough to cover your overheads, and allow you to dedicate sufficient time to each patient.

Your decision about whether to take on private or NHS patients (or both) may depend on the services you wish to provide. Cosmetic treatment such as teeth whitening, implants and veneers are not available on the NHS. So if you’re looking to specialise in cosmetic dentistry, and not just preventative dentistry, you may be more interested in opening a private dental practice from scratch.

Your dental practice business plan

Before opening a dental practice, putting together a business plan could help you sharpen your pitch to potential investors.

You may wish to include an executive summary – often a one-page document that could help sell your vision for your dental practice. You could also include market research, with examples of successful dental practices – perhaps in your local area – and details about the patient profile (private only, NHS, or a mix of private and NHS) you aim to target.

If you’ve decided on a location for your dental practice, you could give an indication of the potential footfall, transport links and disposable income levels of your target customers. Finally, you could consider including information about your team, perhaps by including short bios of key personnel, and financial forecasts about your plans to grow the company.

For more details, read our guide to writing a business plan.

How much does it cost to open a dental practice?

No two dental clinics are the same, so it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much it costs to open a dental practice. But a survey by Dental Elite (PDF)Dental Elite (PDF) in 2016 estimated that the average dental practice incurs annual costs of approximately £520,000. This expenditure includes lab fees, staffing costs, materials, and other running costs such as associated fees, and would leave an operating profit of just over £90,000 . Bear in mind that the figures quoted here are just an average from a study, and that actual operating profits will vary widely between dental practices and locations.

How to take payments at your dental practice

Starting a dental clinic business can be an exciting journey and being able to take payments through a reliable platform could make your life easier. At Tyl, we have a range of card machines, all of which are designed to make payments a breeze, and can enable you to track invoices and issue refunds, among other features. (Fees and eligibility criteria apply).

We’re proud to count a number of dentists among our happy customers. Renew Dental, one of our dentist clients, particularly likes the clean white aesthetic of the Clover Flex as it complements the look and feel of their practice. Here’s what they had to say:

“Our customers often comment on the sleek look of our Tyl device and really like the option to be sent their receipt via text message – it’s more environmentally friendly and allows us to minimise human contact between our staff and customers.”

Dr Inderpal Johal

Owner of Renew Dental

Want more guidance on opening a business?

We hope we’ve given you some helpful insights on how to open a dental practice, and while it may take time and money, a good local dentist may be worth its weight in gold fillings. For more Tyl guides on starting a business, check out some of our latest blogs over at Tyl Talks:


This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.

Tyl by NatWest makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided.

Tyl by NatWest accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.

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