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Last updated Sept, 2023


Last updated Sept, 2023


Last updated Sept, 2023


What is a Dental Support Organization?

Dental Support Organizations (DSOs) are entities that dental practice owners contract with to manage the administrative, marketing and/or business sides of the dental practice.

What kinds of services DSOs provide?

DSOs provide a variety of non-clinical services to dentists, including facility maintenance, IT and software support, supply procurement, human resources, accounting and marketing, to name a few. By handling back-office administration, DSOs allow dentists to concentrate on clinical care. If you are a dentist affiliating with a DSO, you can explore various DSO structures and select the DSO that provides the right balance of business support for you.

Are there different types of DSOs?

The saying goes, “If you’ve seen one DSO, you’ve seen one DSO,” and the saying is true. Opportunities within DSOs range from large organizations with practice locations across the country, to smaller, regional organizations, to specialty DSOs whose dentists focus on orthodontics, oral surgery or other specific areas. DSOs may be locally or nationally branded, and operate under various business models to provide infrastructure, recruitment tools, advanced technology and adminstrative support functions.

Are DSOs involved in patient care and clinical decisions?

No. DSOs are not involved in patient care and do not influence clinical decisions. The dentist makes all the decisions relative to patient care, and employs and directs all clinical staff.

What types of professional development opportunities do DSOs offer?

DSOs provide clinical mentorship to help hone clinical care skills, robust training curricula for continuing education, and peer networks through which you can share best practices and develop a professional support group. DSOs are inherently structured to provide dentists at any stage of their career access to support and mentoring.

What types of technology do DSOs offer?

If you’re interested in innovation, DSOs have access to state-of-the-art tools and products including AI for diagnosis and treatment planning, computer-aided design and manufacturing of materials to aid in providing the highest quality patient care. DSOs typically invest in continuous R&D, so you can stay abreast of new protocols, equipment, treatments and practice management tools and techniques.

What types of key performance indicators (KPIs) do DSOs track? Do they differ from KPIs in private practice?

KPIs typically tracked at DSOs are similar to those tracked by a private practice and may include gross and net production goals, third-party reimbursement percentages/adjustments, collection/production ratio, overhead expenses, appointment utilization percentage, new patients per month and recall effectiveness.

How are DSO dentists compensated?

DSOs typically have similar compensation models to private practice dental offices, and DSO dentists often have additional support to drive patient flow.
There are several compensation structures: per diem, draw, percentage of production and percentage of collections. Per-diem is a daily guaranteed minimum, meaning you get paid no matter who shows up in your schedule for the day and what procedures you do. Per diem may also be considered on an annual basis. In a draw, the practice pays the associate in anticipation of future earnings. If the associate’s earnings for a paid period fall under the agreed draw amount, then the practice would cover the difference in the associate’s paycheck. Whatever extra the practice paid would then be deducted from the associate’s paycheck during the next pay period in which the income generated was above the draw amount. Most practices pay on percentage of production or collections. A percentage of production means that you will be paid on your estimated procedures cost. Being paid on collections means that you are paid once the insurance companies or patients pay for the procedures you performed. NOTE: most companies that pay on production pay a lower percentage than those paying on collections since they need to factor in the cost of non-collections. Any type of compensation may have caveats such as a reduction in potential compensation to account for collection costs, lab fees and other ancillary costs that are managed by the associate. Some companies offer the ability to share in the office level profits above and beyond the base and percentage bonus concepts.

What paths to leadership/ownership do DSOs offer?

DSOs offer a variety of career paths, from directing clinical operations to practice ownership to positions within executive management. Ownership pathways vary by DSO. Typically, an associate works for several years as an employee of the professional corporation and then may be offered the opportunity to buy in through shares over time. While DSOs have different ownership structures, typically ownership can be obtained through corporate stock ownership; stock ownership in the clinical side of the local practice; or ownership in the business side of the practice.

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DSO Matchmaker Tool

Use ADSO’s DSO Matchmaker tool to identify member DSOs that match your criteria for a great place to work.