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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dental Practice Management 101

You’ve done the hard work to earn your medical degree and launch your dental practice, but as a small business owner, this is only the beginning of your journey. Along the way, there are a number of necessary steps to take in managing a successful practice, from managing a budget and implementing marketing strategies to protecting the business from potential liabilities. Let’s take a brief look at some essential dental practice management tips.

Maintain a Budget

As every small business owner knows, it is essential to manage expenses. Whether you are just starting or have an established practice, it is crucial to establish a budget that considers what has previously been spent while forecasting costs for the coming year, such as rent, equipment, utilities, and maintenance.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Risk Management Tips for Dental Practices

The contemporary landscape for dental practices has become increasingly complex due in part to the legal and business risks many dentists face, not the least of which are medical malpractice claims and other lawsuits. One way to mitigate these risks is by obtaining the following different types of insurance. In many cases, if the dentist has borrowed money from a commercial lender to open the practice or is leasing his or her office, the lender or management company leasing the property will require some or all of these coverages as well.

General Liability

General liability insurance is designed to protect a business against claims brought by visitors who are injured on the premises in accidents that are not related to a dental procedure. Whether there are patients or vendors coming to an office, a business may be held liable for personal injuries.
Read more . . .

Thursday, July 6, 2017

How To Sell Your C-Corporation Dental Practice

At a time where many dentists are preparing to sell their practice, it is more important than ever to become informed on the process of selling a dental practice.  While there are a number factors to consider, one of high importance for the seller is the tax implications when organized as a C-Corporation. This article will provide a general "plain language" discussion of the most common questions and concerns relating to the issue of selling your dental practice as a C-Corporation.

How are C-Corporations Taxed?

A C-Corporation is subject to what is often referred to as the "Double Tax." This is because a C-Corporation is a separate taxable entity from the individual.
Read more . . .

Monday, June 12, 2017

Why Your Dental Practice Needs an Employee Handbook

Starting a dental practice involves a number of considerations, not the least of which is attracting and retaining patients. More than this, though, a successful practice depends on having a capable staff of dental hygienists, assistants and administrators. Because employment issues are essential to how the practice will operate, it is important to establish a formal employee handbook.

In short, an employee handbook clarifies the responsibilities of a dental staff and what benefits they can expect from the owner. While the details of the handbook depend on the size of the practice, it should open with a description of the practice and a mission statement that clarifies the objectives of the practice: putting patient care first.
Read more . . .

Monday, May 29, 2017

How to Optimize the Value of Your Dental Practice

If you are considering retiring and selling your dental practice, it is important to make sure you receive top value for your life's work. Before putting your practice on the market, the following steps can help to optimize its value and secure your financial security.

Upgrade Your Office

While the bottom line is profitability, the appearance of your office and the technology in use are important factors in assessing the value of a dental practice.
Read more . . .

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Evolving Landscape of Dental Technology

How can technology improve dental treatment?

Technological innovation has had a dramatic impact on the quality of dental care, particularly digital dentistry which allows traditional treatments to be administered more expediently and gently. The latter part of that equation is crucial since many patients do not go to the dentist out of fear. By some estimates, nearly one-third of American adults do not go to the dentist.

Today, digital dentistry encompasses an array of technologies or devices that are digitally or computer controlled.  In particular, dentists are using CAD/CAM components in computer-aided dental implants, shade matching of replacement crowns, and even the administration of nitrous oxide.
Read more . . .

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Why New Dentists Should Consider Becoming Associates

What is a dental associateship?

For recent graduates of dental school, it is crucial to get hands on experience, and earn a living, especially given the fact the student loans will need to be paid off. While some new dentists may have the business savvy and access to financing needed to launch their own practice, another option is to become a dental associate.

What is a dental associate?

As the name implies, dental associates are dentists who work in a dental practice but are not owners. Instead, they either work as an employee of an established practice or, in the alternative, as an independent contractor.

In an employee arrangement, it is common to enter into an employment contract that clarifies the dentist's relationship with the practice and the rights and responsibilities of both parties.

Read more . . .

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Benefits of Owning a Dental Practice

Today, there are a number of challenges related to owning a dental practice not the least of which is lower reimbursements from managed care. In addition, dentists must also contend with significant regulation and fierce competition from the corporate dental industry. Nonetheless, there are still opportunities for independent dentists to operate successful businesses.

While it is critical to be a well educated and trained clinician, running a successful practice also requires having a fundamental understanding of business. Of course, most dental schools don't teach these skills, and dentists who are new to the profession are prone to making mistakes that could lead to profit losses.
Read more . . .

Monday, August 31, 2015

Do you have a Death or Disability Clause in your Office Lease?

This past week I negotiated a lease on behalf of an ophthalmologist and I wanted to share an essential but often overlooked lease provision, “Termination upon Death or Disability.”  If a closely-held company is entering into a lease, the company needs to consider whether it can continue to operate if a critical owner or employee dies or becomes disabled and cannot work.  Examples include physicians, dentists, veterinarians, attorneys, architects, chiropractors and other types of unique personal services where another person cannot easily step in and run the company.  The company must have the ability to terminate the lease if it loses its critical person.

Without protective language in the lease, the company will remain bound to the lease despite the absence of the critical person.  The lease is often between the company and the landlord, so the company still legally survives and remains obligated to perform under the lease.  If the company defaults, the landlord can strip the company of its assets.  Even worse, the lease could be personally guaranteed and the guarantors or guarantors’ estate could remain liable for the company’s performance under the lease.

These types of companies must include a “death and disability” clause in their leases to allow lease termination in the event of a death or disability of a critical person.  Following is an example of a “death and disability” clause:

In the event of the death of ____________ (the “Critical Person”), or in the event the Critical Person becomes Disabled (as defined below), Tenant shall have the option of terminating this Lease upon thirty (30) days’ written notice to Landlord. The effective date of such termination shall be the thirtieth (30th) day following delivery of such written notice. On such termination date, Tenant shall surrender the Premises to Landlord in accordance with this Lease, this Lease shall terminate and neither party will have any further obligations with respect to this Lease. For purposes of this section, “Disabled” shall mean the inability of the Critical Person to perform his/her customary duties for Tenant for a period of at least one hundred eighty (180) consecutive days. In the event the Landlord disputes whether the Critical Person is Disabled, the Critical Person shall submit to examinations by two medical doctors, one selected by the Tenant and the other selected by the Landlord. The two medical doctors shall examine the Critical Person and determine whether it is more likely than not that the Critical Person will be unable to perform his/her customary duties for Tenant for a period of one hundred eighty (180) consecutive days from the date of the examination. If the two medical doctors agree, their decision shall be binding and final. If the two medical doctors disagree, they shall select a third medical doctor, whose determination shall be final and binding.

Prior to using any language or concepts from this blog entry, consult with an attorney.


The LaMaster Law Firm, PLLC, a boutique style law firm committed to delivering legal services to healthcare professionals and their practices.  Our services include assisting with the purchase and sale of practices, leasing, employment law matters, regulatory compliance, and other legal matters.

For more information about Matt LaMaster, The LaMaster Law Firm, PLLC, and dental specific legal services, visit

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Beware of the "Bundled" Loan and Mortgage If You're Buying a Practice

Here's some information for those dentists who are looking to finance their practice acquisition. 


I was recently working with a dentist that was purchasing a practice and the accompanying real estate.  The practice was in a medical condominium complex with other dental and medical providers.  Originally, I was just asked to help the client clear up and obtain declination's of first rights of refusal that the other co-owners of the condominium association were given in the original condominium documents.  After that, my client asked me to review and help with the financing and closing of the real estate.

The client was obtaining financing from a rather large bank that does not typically deal with financing dental practices.  The bank offered her the “opportunity” to bundle the practice acquisition loan with a small loan that she needed to purchase the condominium.  The condominium was only selling for $33,000, while the practice was selling for around $250,000. 

During negotiations with her dental practice broker and the bank, the bank told her that they would not be taking out a mortgage for the purchase of the condominium because it was such a small portion of the total loan amount and her credit was stellar. 

Well, a few days before the closing when I received the closing documents things had drastically changed. You see, the bank was in fact going to record a mortgage and it was going to be for the entire amount of the loan.  My client went from being told that she would have no mortgage to having a mortgage of almost $290,000.  I truly believe that without an attorney my client would have likely signed those documents not knowing the potential repercussions.

So you may be asking, what are the repercussions?  To put this simply, my client would have taken a mortgage out that would have immediately be in an amount greater than the property was worth.  That means that in order for her to sell the property she would need to release the mortgage, which would have likely required her to pay off the promissory note that was tied to the mortgage in an amount that would be much greater than the property was worth.  The only way she could have done that would have been to sell the practice, or find the money somewhere else to pay off the amount of the loan.  Now, you may say why would she want to sell the condominium and not the practice?  Well, she will likely be very successful and may need or want a bigger and better practice location.

So, in this scenario having an attorney review the closing documents prior to closing may have saved this dentist and her practice.


Work with an attorney that can help identify the hidden risks and costs associated with bank loans, mortgages, and closing documents.


The author, Matt LaMaster, is the Founder and Principal Attorney of The LaMaster Law Firm, PLLC, a boutique style law firm committed to delivering legal services to dental practices, chiropractors, and healthcare facilities. 

For more information about Matt LaMaster, The LaMaster Law Firm, PLLC, and mortgages, visit

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Working Interviews: To Pay or Not to Pay?

I’ve heard the term “working interview” used often with dental and veterinarian practices.  A “working interview” is when the practice/employer wants to observe the clinical or clerical skills of job applicants (dentists, dental hygienists, veterinarians, assistants) or their clerical staff (front office and billing staff) by actually seeing the applicant perform essential job duties before they hire the applicant as an employee. 

The question is often raised, “do I need to pay wages for working interviews?”

The answer….it depends.  I know, that’s the typical lawyer answer.  But really, it depends on what the applicant is asked to do and the length of time they are performing the tasks.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), unpaid working interviews are only lawful if the work is not to the benefit of the enterprise and the interview is limited only to the necessary amount of time to test the applicant’s ability to perform the essential job functions.  So, if you have the applicant work an 8 hour day by seeing patients and performing services that you would have performed if not for them there, you really need to pay them. 

So, as an employer how can you “try it before you buy it?”

The answer is skills testing. The difference between working interviews and skills testing is the environment they are performed.  During a working interview, you ask the applicant to work alongside you during a regular workday and have him or her perform and demonstrate skills on patients.  In contrast, skills testing is when you set up a scenario and ask the applicant to walk you through it, as they understand it.  For example, take an assistant into a room and show him or her your set up.  Then ask the applicant to reproduce the set up in another operatory.  For a clinician applicant, create a chart for a fake patient (or use a real patient) and have the applicant tell you how they would proceed.  This skills testing method will grant you an inside look at the applicant’s skills and personality without requiring you to pay them.

In summary, by using the skills testing method you will have all the benefits of a working interview, but without the requirement to pay the applicant. Happy hiring!


The author, Matt LaMaster, is the Founder and Principal Attorney of The LaMaster Law Firm, PLLC, a boutique style law firm committed to delivering legal services to dental practices, chiropractors, veterinarians, and healthcare facilities. 

For more information about Matt LaMaster, The LaMaster Law Firm, PLLC, and employment related issues, visit

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