Dental Practice Operated by Parent

Hi. I’m currently a second year dental student, and I am also the son of a currently practicing dentist.

I have had the burning question in my mind about whether when I graduate if I should try to hook up with another dentist in the area that is retiring. My thought is that since I will have a guaranteed practice coming my way from my mom, that I would be able to learn the ropes from a dentist that operates things differently (perhaps better) than her. By the time they both retire (in a couple of years) I would be managing both practices then.

What are some thoughts on this? I’ve gotten mixed messages about “it’s not something you need to worry about” or “you have a practice coming to you, why worry about it?” I love my mom very much, and she’s provided well over the years, but I’m not sure she ran things to their greatest productivity. She’s a solo practitioner, no hygienists, produces about 500K, 40% overhead. My guess is about 10 new patients a month, but no clue on the active patient base. She works 4 days a week about 8 hrs a day.

I just want to know if there was some way to determine her productivity versus another’s. I think it would be great to run 2 great practices, but I really have no idea what that all means.


So it sounds like you have a really good idea how your mom operates her practice (by the way, I would not say it’s better or worse than any others, just her style, her choice, her design) so I’d say there may be a benefit to you to see how other practices are operated. You can then decide what is right for you.

This is similar to what I’m going through with my 13 yr old son, I’ve coached a lot of his baseball and basketball teams. Over the past year I’ve started to focus more on my 11 year old and I’m letting my 13 year old experience different coaches. I think it’ll be good for him to see how others do it, the same applies in this case.

Maybe after a couple of years there would be an opportunity for you to purchase an existing practice near you mom, share office space with your mom and when she’s ready to retire mold her practice into yours. I’m not suggesting you compete, simply share office space and cover each others backs during time off, etc. When she’s ready to retire, there you are.

I’m not sure what you mean by “determining” her production to others, do you want to know how her practice compares to others like hers or other solo practices with a hygienist and the doctor working 4 days/week? I can provide comparisons for the latter.

Good luck

This post first appeared on NewDocs.

Send your questions to Tim Lott, CPA, CVA at

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