Purchasing Dental Equipment and Supplies


Purchasing Dental Equipment and Supplies

Purchasing Dental Equipment and Supplies

Your basic office is equipped and ready to use. Now the fun begins. It is time to explore your options and purchase all the dental equipment and supplies that will transform this basic business office into a place where you can practice dentistry. Remember that there is plenty of time to get all the latest equipment. You may not need to have everything at startup that you plan to have eventually. After doing the research to choose the equipment you would want for your ideal dental office, make a buying plan that separates what you will need now and what you would like to get in the future. Do not cut yourself short by buying only the bare essentials unless your funds are severely limited. Bear in mind that the equipment you choose will have a bearing on what kinds of services you provide.You will also need all the supplies it takes to run a busy dental clinic.

Follow the 3-Month Rule

Impulse buys can destroy your budget for equipment and start you off in a precarious financial position. So, whenever you buy expensive dental equipment, you need to spend some time getting to know each item. Many experts recommend you follow a 3-month rule.That is, before you make any major purchase, you spend 3 months learning about the equipment and making your decision. Although you won’t be consumed with the purchase the whole 3 months, it will take some time to go to trade shows, schedule vendor visits and demonstrations, read the literature and talk to your accountant about the tax implications of the purchase. At the end of the 3 months, you should be ready to make an informed decision. This is especially important on high-dollar equipment like:

  • digital radiography systems
  • CAD/CAM milling units
  • panoramic x-ray units
  • cone-beam technology
  • hard-tissue lasers

Dealing with Resellers

As a new dentist, you might not be aware of the way dental equipment is sold. Dental equipment manufacturers choose resellers who buy the equipment at a cost that is below the retail cost. They allow these resellers to “resell” the equipment to dentists like you. The reseller can sell you the equipment at its list price, but in most cases, they offer you a price that is somewhere between what they paid for it and the retail list price. Typically, you get a 22% to 24% off of list price. So before you negotiate the price with the reseller, find out the list price and figure what the equipment would cost with that percentage off. In nearly every instance, you do not have to accept a deal where you pay full price for the equipment.

Invest in Core Function Equipment

While it might seem more fun to buy the latest high-tech equipment, what you need more than anything are the less glamorous items that will allow you to give your patient high-quality basic services. Jazzy, cutting edge equipment is a luxury that you can get once you have met your needs for basic, tried-and-true dental equipment necessities. Start with these items of basic dental equipment:

  • patient chairs
  • operatory cabinetry with sinks
  • delivery systems
  • dental operatory lights
  • x-ray imaging equipment
  • sterilization equipment
  • handpieces
  • dental compressor
  • dental office vacuum system
  • curing lights
  • amalgamator
  • air/water syringe
  • assistant unit
  • carpule warmer
  • doctors unit
  • electrosurgery unit
  • eyewash station

What Other Equipment Do You Need?

Depending on the types of treatments you plan to offer, there are several other types of equipment that might help you in your practice. These items are optional in a general sense, but they may be needed for certain procedures and services. Before you buy them, estimate how often you would use them in daily practice. Equipment to consider here includes:

  • surgical microscopes
  • intraoral camera
  • 3D imaging system
  • endodontic equipment
  • dental sleep medicine equipment
  • portable dental equipment
  • ultrasonic cleaner
  • film processor w/daylight loader
  • plaster trap
  • plaster vibrator
  • model trimmer
  • lathe-handler
  • taper for lathe
  • ultrasonic scaler
  • hazardous material guide poster

Buying Dental Supplies

The list of dental supplies you will need is a long one, and it can be even longer if you use more than the basic supplies. Therefore, it is best to make a masterlist of all the supplies you need and keep track of the inventory regularly. Once you hire your staff, you can make one person responsible for keeping the inventory in stock. For now, you need to decide what supplies you are going to keep on hand and make your first order.

Expect to spend some time with your dental supplier regularly so you can keep up with the latest changes and availability of supplies you are using. Because you will see your supplier often, it is important to find one who you get along with well and trust. Dental supply representatives typically do not have expense accounts, but they are happy to come to your office to discuss your needs and take orders.

Checklist for Purchasing Dental Equipment and Supplies

  • Use the 30-day rule for major equipment purchases
  • Compare features and prices
  • Expect a 22% to 24% discount from retail list price of equipment
  • Invest first in core dental equipment needed to provide basic services
  • Remember that the equipment resellers and dental suppliers are in it to make money
  • Choose a dental supplier you can get along with in the long term
  • Make a master list of supplies you want to keep on hand at all times
  • Take inventory regularly to keep everything you need in stock