Career Advancement

What Is a Dental Service Organization?

Career Advancement

What Is a Dental Service Organization?

Emmet Scott records his podcast, DSO Secrets.

Dental Service Organizations, also called DSOs for short, comprise of a variety of business models for dental practices. There are many Dental Service Organizations out there representing a variety of approaches to running a thriving dental practice. What is a DSO? And what makes Community Dental Partners different from others?

What Is a Dental Service Organization?

Simply put, DSOs provide nonclinical support for dentists. The business model started in the 1990s with a goal of relieving the burdens of administrative oversight for dentists. Many dentists struggle with the business side of running a dental practice. Payroll, compliance, equipment maintenance, personnel management protocols—the administrative tasks for a practice owner can easily become overwhelming.

In the past fifteen years or so, the DSO business model has exploded. More dentists are learning the benefits of working with administrative support. However, as the model has grown, it has also branched out. Now, the term applies to several versions of the model with different levels of involvement and concepts for ownership. While the dental practice itself can legally only be owned by a dentist, some DSOs are run by non-dentist investors, who favor getting involved in dentistry from a purely business perspective. No matter what ownership looks like, a well-run DSO can balance the importance of top-tier dental healthcare with the goals of great business management.

Check out episode 101 of my podcast, DSO Secrets: DSO Defined – Its True Pieces. In it, I define and break down what a dental service organization, or dental support organization, really is, and how Community Dental Partners can support you.

A mother hugs her children after their checkups at a dental service organization-owned practice.

Why Work with a Dental Service Organization?

Ideally, the goal of a great DSO is to handle the business side of running a dental practice, which will free you to do your best work as a dentist. In fact, successful DSOs know exactly who their customer is: you, the dentist. Without the constant burden of administrative needs pulling attention away from treating your patients, dentists working with the support of a dental service organization can focus fully on what really matters: patients.

While many dental schools offer some business classes to their students, no one expects you to have the same level of knowledge as industry experts! Sadly, this lack of know-how for the administrative side of practice ownership can severely limit your practice’s potential. You became a dentist to improve your patients’ lives by providing amazing oral healthcare, not to spend your time laboring over the details of how often an autoclave needs its gasket replaced.

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Successful dentists have amazing skills for task delegation. When you find an incredible assistant and you work together over time, you learn what tasks to entrust to them so that you can treat more patients with your full focus. Working with the support of a dental service organization is the same idea. Delegating business functions to a support team is not only a great way to free yourself to focus on clinical matters; it’s also a great business move.

The best dental service organizations know exactly what you need to succeed. Dental practices who work with DSOs can take advantage of well-educated and trained teams to assist with your business needs. That means greater returns on investment, and a more efficient practice overall. A well-run dental practice can treat more patients with a consistently high quality of care. At the end of the day, improving oral health and changing lives for the better is what dentistry is all about, and the support of a great DSO can make all the difference in accomplishing that goal.

The support team in a dental service organization congratulates each other on another job well done.

Reality Check: Not All DSOs Are Created Equal

With limited options, you may find yourself choosing between your autonomy and financial security or sacrificing your clinical progress as you struggle to learn the day-to-day business skills required when running a practice. When considering your options for joining a dental service organization as a new dentist, check for alignment with your passion to be patient-centered, and giving them the best care possible. We understand that clinical treatment planning your way increases your clinical capabilities and provides amazing patient experiences.

Dental service organizations have done amazing work in reaching out to communities who have historically had trouble accessing dental care. In fact, DSOs have been credited with significantly improving access to dental care for children on Medicaid. This is one area where we pride ourselves most here at Community Dental Partners. Improving access to dental care in rural communities and serving the underserved are among our primary goals as an organization.

A dental hygienist watches over a dentist as he cleans a pediatric patients teeth in a dental service organization-owned practice.

What Makes CDP Different?

Considering starting your dental career by signing on as an associate with a DSO? Or, if you already own a practice but feel like administrative overwhelm is holding you back, we have some advice. Be sure you find a DSO that can meet you where you are, and whose culture aligns with yours.

Fostering a positive clinical environment is key to maintaining an energized team that can provide the best care to patients. That’s why we follow core concepts like compassion and respect in the workplace. By cultivating a positive culture in our practices, we provide enriching, satisfying career growth for our doctors and support staff.

There are many advantages to working with a dental service organization like Community Dental Partners. We provide financial benefits, such as our loan repayment assistance programs, as well as support for ongoing learning and career development.

Download our Free Guide to Choosing Your Dental Career! Download Now

One key benefit of joining a support team like ours is that we can help you achieve better work-life balance. When dentists choose to go it alone, most find that it can be difficult to balance the demands of their business with the needs of their families and private lives. Many find that they can never truly leave work. Even when they’re on vacation or trying to enjoy their weekend, they’re constantly worrying about their business. After all, their livelihood depends on the ongoing success of their business, and the entire practice hinges on them.

CDP doctors, on the other hand, find they’re better able to leave work at work and achieve better work-life balance. They don’t have to constantly fret over the details of insurance payout protocols or properly filing biohazardous waste disposal paperwork. Healthy balance will benefit your mental health, give you the energy your patients deserve, and the attention your family needs.

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Dentistry can be a lonely, demanding venture. However, it can also be one of the most rewarding careers in the world. It all comes down to how you choose to practice and whether you decide to delegate when appropriate. You do not have to do this alone. To learn more about how Community Dental Partners can help you achieve a fulfilling career, download the Guide to Choosing Your Dental Career.

Emmet Scott
Emmet Scott Chief Executive Officer Community Dental Partners

Emmet Scott is not a dentist. But he is a dental industry disrupter, entrepreneur, and co-founder of Community Dental partners(CDP), including its widely popular Smile Magic family Dental brand,

Emmet’s work in the dental industry began in 2010 with his first dental brainchild, Smile Magic, which delivers a Disney-like experience to the families the offices serve, complete with storybook themes, gold coins, a movie theatre, and lobby play gym.

In 2012, Emmet co-founded Community Dental Partners. A dental support organization that allows dental partner practices to use their proven business resources, support, and experience to run and scale their own companies successfully. This parent company now supports its original Smile Magic brand and over 70 other additional dental partner practices and is regularly expanding.

An engaging and celebrated leader, Emmet is dedicated to changing the way the dental industry runs from the inside out. He is widely respected by his peers and serves as the newly elected President of the Association of Dental Support Organizations. Emmet is also the host of the DSO Secrets podcast focused on the group dental industry he serves.

Careers with CDP

Doctor Led.
Team Supported.

You take care of the smiles. We take care of you.

Learn More

Careers with CDP

Doctor Led.
Team Supported.

You take care of the smiles. We take care of you.

Learn More