Unit 3: Finances
Unit 5. Finances

Section 1. Financial Viability

Dental Equipment and Supply Costs

Unit 2 explores the issue of purchasing new equipment vs. accepting donated equipment and potential sources for the latter. This decision depends upon your specific circumstances. Purchasing new equipment generally is a better choice if sufficient funds are available. Dental clinics that are nonprofit organizations may be able to obtain discounts from dental equipment and supply vendors by stating the type of practice they have (such as core safety net providers). Major dental suppliers offer discount arrangements.

Core Safety Net Providers
Core safety net providers have two distinguishing characteristics: (1) by legal mandate or explicitly adopted mission, they maintain an open door, offering access to services to patients regardless of their ability to pay and (2) a substantial share of their patient mix is uninsured, participates in Medicaid, or is otherwise vulnerable. These core safety net providers typically include federal, state, and locally supported community health centers or clinics, public hospital systems, and local health departments.

When selecting a vendor, consider service and support as well as price. National vendors generally have regional and local support. Also, be aware that not all vendors carry every manufacturer's equipment. In addition to national vendors that sell dental equipment and supplies, check online for local vendors. There are regional and national oral health meetings that present an opportunity to review the available equipment and learn about the current technology. In addition to dental equipment, software programs that encompass the electronic record, billing, coding, and scheduling should be evaluated in the initial planning stages. If you or a dentist consulting with you is an ADA member, you can access a list of national companies on the buying guide section of the ADA website.

Leasing dental equipment is another option for safety net dental clinics that want new equipment but cannot afford to purchase it outright. For more details about leasing, contact local dental supply companies. Software vendors may require an annual subscription or fee to provide technical assistance and updates.

The advantages of leasing include:

  • Acquisition of equipment without having to arrange financing or raise the cash required to purchase the equipment.
  • Provision of a less-complicated path to periodic technology upgrades without having to dispose of older technology.

A potential disadvantage of leasing is that it may cost more over the life of the equipment than buying equipment outright and selling it used when you want to upgrade the equipment. It is important to do your homework.