How to Find a Dental Practice for Sale

Finding a dental practice for sale is simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. Sort of like getting in great physical shape. You’ve got to put in the work, but the work is fairly basic.

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Last week, we got a call from a dentist in Houston. The conversation went something like this:

Dentist: There are no practices for sale in this entire city. I’m fed up with looking and thinking about doing a startup from scratch

Brian Hanks: Hold up. You said Houston?

Dentist: Yeah.

Brian Hanks: Houston, as in, the fifth largest city in the US.? Population six-and-a-half million?

Dentist: …Yeah?

Brian Hanks: Oh, there are plenty of practices for sale. What have you done to try to find them?

After some prodding, Brian learned that the dentist had done two Google searches, browsed a couple of broker sites, and that was it. He had no network of dentists to talk to, hadn’t found a broker who would help, and was totally stumped. 

He thought that others had done this work already, and that there would be a handy list online where he could peruse dozens of potential practices to buy. No such luck; that list doesn’t exist.

So…how DO you find a practice for sale?

Let’s dive in and look at how to find the perfect dental practice. Once you find it, that’s when we come in. We’ll help with due diligence, negotiation, valuation, financing, or closing on the practice. Our experts are here to make the process quick and seamless.

But back to finding that practice. Let’s get into what’s involved.

Step 1. Preparation and Research

Buying a dental practice could be one of the best decisions you ever make. Owning your own practice can lead to independence, control over your destiny, and big rewards.

Before you take on more debt and responsibility, it’s important to fully understand what your personal goals are and to get your finances in order.

Financial Preparation

Before buying a dental practice, carefully assess your financial situation. Seek guidance from a personal financial planner or a dental practice purchase consultant to strike a balance between your personal goals (e.g., buying a home, paying off student loans) and your professional aspirations.

Here’s what you need to do to get your finances in order before looking for a dental practice for sale:

  1. Have $50K+ in the bank. This isn’t for a down payment, in fact you won’t use it at all during the loan process. But the bank wants to know that you’re financially responsible and have something saved up for practice emergencies.
  2. Have a credit score over 680. That’s it, simple as that. Your credit score is a sort of pass/fail marker for the bank. You won’t get a better or worse rate with a higher score, you simply qualify for the loan or not.
  3. Have a clean credit score. Going hand-in-hand with the last point, your credit report should be clean of any major blemishes.

If you have those things, along with a solid production history showing your dentistry skills, then banks will be ready, willing, and even eager to lend to you.

Think About Location

Consider two things when it comes to location: both the location and the location.

1. What city do you want to live in?

Call this one obvious if you like, but a surprising number of dentists I talk to haven’t given this question as much thought as they should.

It’s not just a matter of “I like Raleigh, I guess I’ll live there.” You might like Raleigh, but do you want to be living there for the next 30+ years? Does your spouse agree that it’s the place to settle down? Is this where you want to raise kids, if you plan to have them?

And so on. Choosing the right city (or cities) to buy in is step one.

2. Is the practice well located?

Which street is the practice on? Which part of town? There are questions to examine here as well:

  • Is the location good for business? Is it easily visible and attractive to potential walk-in patients? Does it have adequate parking?
  • Is the location good for you? What does your commute look like? Is the building itself one that you’ll enjoy working in?
  • Does it have enough of the patients you want? Perhaps you want to concentrate on serving low-income patients, or you prefer a suburban locale, or whatever. Consider the patient demographics of the practice.

By strategically choosing the location of your dental practice, you can position yourself for a larger patient base and long-term success in your career. Close proximity to other healthcare facilities, schools, or business centers can provide an excellent opportunity for growth. More importantly, getting the location right gives you a much better chance for a happy, personally fulfilling career.

Step 2: Starting Your Search for Dental Practices

If you’re looking for a dental practice to buy, follow my 80/20 rule. It’s pretty simple: When you’re looking for a practice, you should spend 80% of your time networking with other dentists, especially grey-haired ones. That’s where most of my clients find their eventual practices, and it’s usually how you’ll find the best ones (the ones that never even hit the other market.

The other 20% should be spent with brokers, also an excellent resource. You can do that passively, just by checking their websites, or proactively, by connecting with them personally. Connecting with brokers is both easier and trickier than working with other dentists.

Using a Dental Practice Broker

Again, working with brokers should take up about 20% of your search time. With a simple Google search, find brokers in the area you want to look in. Then check out their websites and any listings they have for sale. This isn’t a reliable way to find great practices (most of them don’t ever hit the open market) but it absolutely does happen! So those broker listings are worth perusing for a few minutes once or twice a week.

You can also connect directly with the brokers themselves, adding them to your network and making sure they know who you are and what you’re looking for. Connecting with brokers is both easier and trickier than working with other dentists.

How It’s Easy

Brokers are all about moving practices between hands, so they’re familiar with the process, they’re familiar with your needs as a buyer, and best of all, they have a list of available practices for you to peruse.

If you want a quick way to see some available practices through brokers, make sure you’re signed up for my free, semi-monthly PDF with several dozen practices, with brokers’ contact info built right in. I’ve had many dentists get lucky already through those lists; maybe you’ll be next!

For a more personal approach, once you know what area(s) you want to settle down in, do a quick google search for dental practice brokers in that area, and check out their websites—thoroughly. (More on that in a sec.) Keep an eye on those listing boards, checking them once a week or so in case something perfect pops up.

How It’s Hard (but Not THAT Hard)

Here’s the tough truth: Brokers don’t actually want to hear from you. While that may sound harsh (even to a few of my broker friends), here’s what I mean. When a broker completes the sale of a practice, they get paid by the selling dentist—not by you. So they’re technically on the seller’s team, not yours. On top of that, they’re very, very busy with those sellers.

So if a broker gets a call out of the blue from a buyer, especially if that buyer is just poking their nose around without much sense of purpose, the broker is going to get off the phone as fast as he or she can and get back to where they actually make money.

“But wait,” comes the common objection. “Sellers need buyers, so the broker should be happy to hear from me!” And if that’s your thought, then…you’re absolutely right. If you want a broker to happy to hear from you, here’s what you do:

    1. Do a thorough reading of their site. Know the answers to a few basic questions. Is it a solo broker or a team? Do they specialize in certain types of practices? How far does their geographic area extend? You’re basically making sure you’re reaching out to the right broker and not wasting their—and your—time.
    2. Send an introduction email. Nothing fancy or overly long. Just a few paragraphs introducing yourself, telling them what you’re in the market for, and promising to follow up.
    3. Give them a call, and keep it pithy. A few days to a week (whatever you promised) after your intro email, give them a call. This initial call is much the same as your email, a simple introduction. Keep it focused, and try to keep it to five or ten minutes. Remember, they’re busy. Lastly, if you leave a message, give them time to get back to you—at least a day, maybe two or three. Spamming phone calls to the broker is a great way to get them to block you.
  • Stay in touch, and don’t be annoying about it. Follow up with the broker by email about once a month or so. Often enough that they’ll remember who you are, not so often that you’ll annoy them. Remind them what you’re looking for, fill them in on any relevant updates, and ask that they keep you in mind if a good practice comes up.

Follow those steps, and you can effectively add brokers to your networking spreadsheet. There’s a reason it’s the 80/20 rule and not the 100/0 rule—brokers can be a fantastic resource for finding a practice to buy. You just need to remember where they’re coming from and how you can actually help their business, rather than waste their time. Do that, and they’ll be thrilled to add you to their own rolodex.

Connect with Private Practice Owners Looking to Sell

When looking for dental practices to buy, brokers represent a small percentage of available deals. The number of dentists thinking of retiring–but who haven’t listed with a broker–is just so much more than the number of dentists who have officially put their business up for sale.

Snagging one of these “off-market” deals opens the world up to you. But it’s also a lot of work.

Reaching out respectfully to dentists is as simple as emailing, networking, sending mailers, or speaking to them one-on-one. Instead of going straight for the kill and asking the current owner if their practice is available for purchase (this won’t work, I promise), try to make a genuine connection.

Connect With Gray-Haired Dentists

There are a lot of ways to make a connection with dentists, and it doesn’t really matter which you use. The goal is the same for all of them: make a genuine connection with older dentists who are nearing retirement. Here are some ways to do that.

Using Mailers

The most common ways to do this sort of outreach are with mass mailers and targeted mailers. Mass mailers are typically letters or postcards with a picture and information about the potential buyer sent to as many (usually hundreds or even thousands) dentists as possible in a specific geographic area. Ask, “Any chance you’re looking to sell your practice?”

Targeted mailers are close to the same thing, with a more personal touch added to what is usually a much smaller group of dentists.  Keep track of where you’ve sent the mailers and who has responded.

Do your best to make a personal connection with other dentists through sincere compliments and genuine questions rather than simply asking if their private practice is for sale.

Consider the following approaches:

  1. “Hi Dr. Nguyen, my name is Brian Hanks and I’m a dentist new to the Seattle area. I heard a colleague say good things about your practice, and I’m really impressed by the number of positive Google reviews you have. Would you be willing to let me take you to lunch sometime in the next few weeks and learn how you’ve been successful in this area? I’m looking to be an owner in the next few years, and I’d love to get your advice.”
  2. “Hi. Dr. Nguyen, my name is Brian Hanks, and I’m looking for an opportunity to purchase a practice in the Seattle area. If you or anyone you know are looking to sell, please let me know.” 

Which version would you be more likely to respond to? Most dentists would respond to the former.

In-Person Networking

The dental profession is very much like a large, interconnected family. You know each other. You talk. You share. This can be a gold mine when you’re in the market for a dental practice.

Now, when I say “in-person networking,” I’m not just talking about formal networking events, although those can certainly be beneficial. I’m also talking about being an active participant in your dental community. Attend study clubs, society meetings, conventions, and CE courses. Don’t forget to mingle at social events. Be open about your desire to buy a practice and see how the information starts flowing your way.

When you network, don’t just focus on other dentists. Reach out to dental reps, bankers, brokers, equipment vendors, or anyone with a finger on the pulse of the local dental scene. These folks often know which local dentists are considering retirement and may even be friends with those dentists. Don’t hesitate to ask for an introduction.

Check out our guide on what to say to dental professionals at a networking event for some great ideas on how to connect.

So get out there and start shaking hands and having conversations. In-person networking can not only help you find the right practice to buy, but it also helps build the relationships you’ll need to make that practice thrive. Always remember, the more people who know you’re looking, the more leads you’re likely to get. And that’s just smart business, no matter how you drill it.


Emails are a powerhouse tool when it comes to digging up opportunities in the dental practice market. It might seem a bit old-school with all this social media jazz around, but I assure you, it’s a top-notch strategy if you’re out to buy a dental practice.

Use the same approach as with mailers. In fact, think of these as—wait for it—electronic mailers. Personalization and warmth are the way to go here. Don’t just send a generic templated email to every dentist.

Phone Calls

Picking up the phone can feel like a throwback in our digital age, but it’s one of the most effective tools in your arsenal for uncovering opportunities to buy a dental practice.

Starting a conversation can be as easy as, “Hello, my name is [Your Name], and I’m on the hunt for a dental practice to buy. Do you have any insights or leads you could share?” But remember, the key here is to be professional, respectful, and listen more than you talk. You’re building a relationship, not just asking for a favor.

Who should you call? Dental brokers and consultants are top on the list. They’re in the business of connecting buyers with sellers and can provide valuable insights about available practices. Be clear about your needs, and they’ll likely keep you in mind for future opportunities.

Don’t overlook other professionals in the industry either. Supply reps, technicians, practice transition consultants, accountants – they all have extensive networks and can be excellent resources.

Reach out to your contacts in the dental community, too. Professors, classmates, mentors, and other dentists might have leads or advice that can point you in the right direction.

Now, it can be a bit nerve-wracking to pick up the phone, I get it. Just remember, the worst thing they can do is say ‘no’. But hey, they might also say ‘yes’, or point you to someone who can. Don’t be shy, pick up that phone, and get dialing. This could be the call that gets you your dream practice!

Getting the Practice Once You’ve Found It

You’ve finally found the dental practice that you want to call your own. You can almost picture your name on the sign out front, and you’re ready to take those keys and get started on the next phase of your career.

Just one question remains: Is it really a good practice to buy?

It’s just one question, but a lot goes into answering it.

Continue to the next page to learn more about how Dental Buyer Advocates will take you through the Due Diligence process to assess a practice’s true value.

Work with Dental Buyer Advocates

I am an accountant and advisor specializing in dental practice acquisition. Whether you’re a recent dental school graduate looking for a first dental practice to buy, or an experienced practitioner looking to expand, I will guide you every step of the way. I am dedicated to helping you find that rare opportunity of a perfect practice that aligns with your goals and aspirations.

You may be wondering, now that I have all of this information, do I even need a consultant?

Do you need an assistant when you’re performing a root canal? You could do it solo, sure, but having an expert by your side can make the process a lot smoother.

Let’s look at it this way:

  1. Expertise: just as you’re an expert in dentistry, a dental accountant and advisor is an expert in their field. They’ve seen more dental practice financial statements than you’ve seen molars. They know what to look for and can guide you through the process.
  2. Red flags: you know the feeling when you see a tiny shadow on an X-ray and your gut tells you it’s a hidden cavity? An accountant and advisor can spot financial and operational red flags that you might miss. They’ll save you from buying a practice with hidden problems, just as you save your patients from hidden decay.
  3. Negotiations: much like you would explain to your patient why they need a crown instead of a filling, an advisor can negotiate terms for you, translating financial jargon into plain English, ensuring you understand each step of the process.
  4. Time saving: think about how much faster you can complete a procedure with an assistant handing you instruments. An accountant and advisor can save you time by handling the financial and operational assessments, leaving you free to focus on the clinical aspects of the practice.
  5. Peace of mind: just like your patients trust you with their oral health, you can trust a dental accountant and advisor with your financial health. Their experience and knowledge can provide you with peace of mind during the often stressful process of buying a dental practice.

So, can you go it alone? Sure, just like you could do a root canal without an assistant. But why would you want to? Get an expert on your team. And remember, when you’re ready to make the leap, contact me and I’ll make sure you land on solid ground!

Learn More


Watch this 15-minute video to understand exactly what to do and say to brokers and how to find off-market practices for sale.


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