Selecting the right equipment that fits the space of your new dental practice is a big decision. You're probably going to be using this equipment for a long time, so you want to make sure that you're making the right decisions. While you may be tempted to select the equipment you used at other practices–perhaps those where you did your clinical rotation, or those used in offices where you've worked prior to starting your own practice–it's important to make wise decisions about your equipment based on the specific needs of your new facility, not on theirs.
Setting Your Budget
Your budget is an important consideration when the time comes to choose all of the equipment for your new dental practice. You don't want to run out of money halfway through the buying process! Make sure you take the time to sit down and write your budget, then make sure that your equipment preferences fit into it before you start buying. No matter how good a deal something seems to be, it's important to make sure that it fits within your budget before you make the purchase, rather than having a hefty case of buyer's remorse later. Make sure you consider things like how far into debt you're going to have to go and the timeline on which you'd like to make payments.
Setting Your Priorities
When selecting dental equipment, there are several priorities that should help you choose the pieces of equipment you really want for your practice. Ask yourself these key questions before purchasing a particular piece of equipment.
Is this piece of equipment comfortable for the patient? Take the time to sit down in the dental chair. Wiggle around in it. Explore it from your patients' perspective. In some cases, your patients may be spending a great deal of time in this chair, and you want to be sure that they're comfortable when they're in your office. Take the same consideration with x-ray equipment and any other equipment that patients will be expected to use.
Is this piece of equipment comfortable for you, your assistants, your hygienists, and others who are working
around the patient? Ergonomics are incredibly important when you spend all day bending over your patients. Make sure that your chair, the patient chair, and the delivery system are all designed with ergonomics at the forefront so that you can choose a great system that will be more likely to work for you.
Is this a high-quality piece of equipment? Sure, you can save money by purchasing budget equipment. Unfortunately, that often means that you'll have to replace it in just a few short years–and that usually means more money laid out over time. If possible, visit trade shows or request samples of equipment so that you can hold it in your hands and test it for durability. Take it for a test drive: move working parts back and forth, adjust the equipment, and see how it feels to you. We highly recommend taking a tour at the ADEC facility in Oregon.
Do you really need it? Some of the latest and greatest dental equipment on the market offers an alarming
number of features–many of them features that you don't really need in your practice. The same is true of many types of patient management software: it often comes complete with bells and whistles that you won't really use in your daily practice. Take the time to consider what you really need in your dental equipment so you can make wiser decisions for your practice.
Will this equipment help attract the talent you want at your practice? There are industry standards you'll need to meet in order to attract the best hygienists, assistants, and others to your practice. Make sure you're buying equipment that will meet their needs.
Will the equipment help you acquire more patients? Using the latest equipment and technology can also allow you to perform new procedures which can bring you additional income.
Doing Your Research
Since this is a big decision, it's important to take your time and do your research before buying–but what does doing your research really look like when it comes to dental equipment? Try some of these strategies to make sure you're getting the equipment you need.
Ask for recommendations. Talk with other dentists that you know and trust and ask for their recommendations. Ask about the products they have used in the past and the ones they plan to use in the future. Ask what they would definitely purchase again if they needed a replacement and what brands they would stay away from.
Read online reviews. As you look through specific pieces of equipment, you'll have access to a library of reviews that tell you everything you want to know about the experience other dentists have had with their products. Take the time to read through those reviews–and do it in a savvy way! Follow these steps:
- Check out the average review. That star rating is there for a reason!
- Read the highest-rated reviews. See what features other dentists really liked about the product. Make sure to look for the answers to your key questions about ergonomics and durability.
- Check out the one-star reviews. A brand or product that has a one-star review isn't necessarily providing bad equipment; it could be that it just didn't fit the needs of a particular individual. Browse through one-star reviews to discover what people most disliked about a piece of equipment. Look for recurring problems and decide whether or not the most common issues are ones that you can live with.
- See how the company responded. This is one of the most critical pieces of information you'll gather, especially from Facebook and other social sharing sites. If the company seems to ignore their negative reviews, they may not be the right one for you. On the other hand, a company that hurries to ensure customer satisfaction is more likely to be one you can trust.
Check out the brand. If you're looking at a new piece of equipment that doesn't seem to have a lot of reviews yet, but that seems perfect for your practice–take the time to evaluate the brand that created the product. Is this a reliable brand? Do they tend to put out good products that are worth having? If so, their latest release is more likely to be trustworthy. On the other hand, if a brand is hit or miss, this might be a piece of equipment you should pass on. For example, Sirona has an incredible reputation for using technology that is cutting edge with materials like Cerec.
Buying dental equipment for your practice is an exciting task. As those important items start to arrive, you may feel as though you're finally realizing your dream. Make sure that dream takes flight by choosing the best pieces of equipment for your new practice.