Are All DSOs the Same?

DSOs: How to understand the differences and make the right choice for you, your patients, and your employees.

Dental Service Organizations (DSOs) have gained significant popularity in recent years. To many dental professionals, the draw to DSOs is their ability to help manage the business side of their practice. This allows the doctors to focus their efforts on providing quality care to their patients. DSOs offer a range of services, including administrative support, marketing, scheduling, patient outreach, and financial management. However, not all DSOs are created equal, and there are hundreds of options to choose from. It is essential to work with a partner who understands the differences between them in order to make the right choice for yourself, your partners, your patients, and your employees. In this article, we explore the key factors to consider when evaluating DSOs and their unique value propositions.


Values and Culture: One of the first things to consider when choosing a DSO is the company’s values and culture. Each DSO operates differently, with its unique set of goals and priorities. Certain DSOs will prioritize profitability above all else, while others place greater emphasis on patient care and employee satisfaction. It’s crucial to align your values – both financial and non-financial – with those of the DSO you choose. Establishing a harmonious working relationship between yourself and your new partner will result in the best outcomes for your team and your patients.


Patient Experience: The patient experience is a top priority for any dental practice, whether independent or part of a DSO. When evaluating potential DSO partners, consider how they prioritize patient care, satisfaction, and loyalty. Look for DSOs that invest in modern technologies, offer comprehensive treatment options, and prioritize patient communication and education. A DSO that values the patient experience will not only attract and retain patients but also enhance your professional reputation.

Support and Resources: One of the primary benefits of joining a DSO is gaining access to their wide range of support and resources. Something to look out for is the extent and quality of their resources, which can vary depending on the DSO. Evaluate the level of support the DSO provides in these areas: access to supplies, marketing, IT infrastructure, human resources, and continuing education. Consider the resources your practice currently lacks and utilize those deficiencies to determine which DSO can best fill those gaps. A DSO partner wants to see your practice grow, and filling the operational gaps of your current practice structure will enhance your practice’s efficiency and growth potential.

Autonomy and Decision Making: Maintaining clinical autonomy is important for many dental professionals. When examining DSO options, inquire about the level of autonomy you’ll have in making clinical decisions. Some DSOs allow dentists to operate independently within a set of established protocols, while others have more rigid guidelines in place. Find a balance that aligns with your professional outlook and allows you to continue to deliver the quality of care which your patients expect. This can be accomplished while simultaneously benefiting from the DSO’s operational efficiencies.

Employee Satisfaction: Your staff members play a crucial role in the success of your dental practice. In fact, DSOs will look at your current staff members when formulating their offers. Evaluate how a DSO will support and invest in the professional development and satisfaction of your team. Look for DSOs that provide ongoing training opportunities, promote a positive work environment, and maintain a competitive compensation and benefits packages. Engaged and motivated employees will not only provide better patient care but also continue to contribute to the ongoing success of your practice.


Financial Considerations: While joining a DSO can offer financial benefits, it’s essential to evaluate the financial aspects carefully. Compare the fee structure, revenue sharing model, and financial support provided by different DSOs. Consider how these factors align with your financial goals. Assess the DSO’s financial stability and track record to ensure that you’re entering into a partnership that will support your ongoing financial success.

Long-Term Partnership: Joining a DSO is a significant decision that has long-term implications for your dental practice. Evaluate the DSO’s track record, reputation, and future growth plans. Consider the length and terms of the partnership agreement, as well as any exit strategies available. Building a successful long-term partnership requires aligning your goals with those of the DSO and ensuring that both parties can thrive in the constantly evolving dental landscape.


Not all DSOs are the same, and choosing the right one requires careful evaluation and consideration. By assessing each of the factors discussed above, you can make an informed decision that benefits you, your patients, and your employees. Remember that the right DSO will align with your values, support your practice’s growth, and ultimately enhance the quality of care you provide to your patients. 




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