What makes a successful sale?

Preparing for the sale

Set Expectations:

Understand what buyers are looking for and gauge the timing of the sale.

Maximize your curb appeal by discovering what a buyer wants

When you are selling your practice, it is helpful to understand what the "typical" buyer is looking for so you can understand how your practice compares. Look at your practice from the buyer's point of view and see if you can do things to make it stand out in a crowd!

To-do: Download the practice assessment worksheet (XLS) to determine how buyers might see your practice.

Understanding Your Score

Remember that this is not a comprehensive assessment of your unique practice situation. There are many things that come into play when selling your practice. This is a simple tool that provides a high-level overview of how your practice measures up against what we have found the typical buyer is looking for.

Evaluation Results

Your score is 55-45

Your practice financials and location appear to be in great shape for a buyer to come right in! Assemble your team and make sure you have all the documents ready (a comprehensive list can be found in the ‘Gather Documents’ section) for your potential buyers so the process can go smoothly once you find your perfect match.

Your score is 44-30

Things are overall very attractive to buyers, maybe your location is not ideal or there is something in your financials that could be tweaked. Depending on which categories were impacted, you may or may not be able to increase your score. Make sure you are ready with all the documents that you will need to have your transition go smoothly once you connect with your best match.

Your score is 29-18

You may want to evaluate your less-than-ideal scores and see if there are changes you could implement immediately to improve your overall total. You will want to do what you can to increase the ‘salability’ of the practice while ensuring that you balance that against the cost of implementation – look at some low-cost improvements that are easy to do now. This does not mean your practice will not sell, it does mean that it may take a bit more time to find the right person.

Your score is 17-0

Remember that this worksheet was created based on looking at the practice from the ‘typical’ buyer's point of view – and is not representative of all buyers. We encourage you to take a good look at where you may want to try and improve your score (e.g. adjust your collection policies and fee schedules) and weigh the pros and cons of doing so – often you can find the right buyer regardless, just be aware that it may take some time.

Set Goals:

Ensure you know what you want to achieve through this transition and plan how to get there.

It really is all about you! Understand what is most important to you when selling your practice

While your financial goals certainly play a part – if you are not financially ready, you may need an extended path – you can plan your transition to suit your needs.

Think about your ideal situation. Feel free to talk to your peers and ask them to share what went well and what could have gone better when selling a practice. A word of caution though, what worked great for a trusted colleague, may not fit for you, so take the time to understand your unique needs.

Determining Your Exit Strategy

Identify your ideal exit date and work backwards from there. Whether you envision six months or five years, begin talking to your family about your timeline and listen to their input. Consider any health issues or other factors that may accelerate your plans.

Exit Options

As you consider selling your practice, think about your ideal exit strategy: Do you want to sell 100% and immediately walk away? Would you prefer a long, gradual phase out? Or something in between? You have several different options.

Make a Complete Sale

In a complete sale, you are paid an agreed-upon cash settlement at the closing of the sale. Complete sales often include provisions for the seller to remain on as an associate for a set period, often 6 to 12 months. During this time, there should be an employment agreement drawn up specifying how the retiring dentist will be paid and what responsibilities will be allocated to the seller.

Be sure to review any contracts carefully with an attorney. Corporate buyouts often come with delayed payments and long-term employment contracts that may include production goals that must be reached before the full pay-out can occur. Make sure to fully understand these clauses and are comfortable with the possibility that collection policies may change under new owners. Even when selling directly to another dentist, make sure to review any contract provisions that may affect the ability to treat patients.

Hire an Associate with Future Purchase Agreement

If you are looking ahead to retiring within five to seven years, you may want to hire an associate who agrees to a complete sale at some predetermined point in the future.

In this case, you will draw up the associate employment agreement, the purchase and sale agreements, and your own post-closing employment agreement all at once, preferably within six months of the incoming dentist starting in the office

Typically, the signed purchase and sale agreement will close one to three years after the associate joins the practice, or earlier if circumstances merit (such as your own retirement, disability or death).

This type of agreement can work especially well if you are thinking ahead and want to groom a dentist who can care for your patients in the same manner to which they have become accustomed. It also works for dentists who lack the funds to purchase the practice outright.

In this type of sale, the practice value should be established on the date that your associate’s contract begins, and again after one year. A percentage of the growth in practice value following the first year is typically attributed to the associate and would not be considered as “goodwill.” The criteria for establishing the purchase price should be decided and put in the contract BEFORE the incoming dentist’s first day in the office.

The key in an associate sale is to establish all the terms and conditions at the very beginning of the relationship, with attorneys who can outline every condition. Decide what happens if you change your mind and do not want to sell or if the associate either cannot or will not complete the purchase. Would you nullify the entire contract if you terminated the associate – or if they terminated you after the sale? Think through these eventualities and protect your interests.

Bring on a Partner with Future Purchase Agreement

Like hiring an associate, you can bring in a partner whose stake will grow over time. A partner could buy an initial stake – such as 25 or 50 percent – with an agreement to purchase additional stakes over a set period. Be sure to negotiate and define the duties and expectations during the contracts phase. In addition, be aware that any true partners share the liability for any claims made against the practice. Again, you should draw up all the relevant paperwork at the beginning of the relationship.


Mergers can make sense for dentists who want to work for about one year, have a smaller practice and have some reason for not doing a conventional sale. Some common reasons include:

  • The practice location will need to change, often due to lease or facility problems
  • The practice has been ‘on the market’ in the past with no offers
  • The area is saturated, and the dentist has a good relationship with a neighboring practitioner, and the seller wants to see their patients in that practice once they retire.

With a merger, you can work in the new practice facility under an office-sharing arrangement until you decide to retire; then the other practice will fold your patients into their patient pool. Typically, the first part of the sale occurs at retirement. A year later, the value of the transferred “goodwill” is calculated. The transferred goodwill is calculated based on the number of patients that have been retained and the dollar value of the treatment that was done on the transferred patients. As always, make sure the particulars of how the purchase price and goodwill will be calculated are included in the original merger agreement so there is no confusion.

Sell Goodwill – also called a chart sale

With a Goodwill sale, you ‘sell’ the patient base to another practice with you ending your clinical career at the time of sale. Much like a merger, the understanding is that these patients, that you have built up a high level of trust (goodwill) with, will give the new dentist a try based on your recommendation. The most successful chart sales will occur when the same criteria as a merger are met. Namely, the purchasing practice is close, shares a common philosophy of care, the patient/Dr. relationship is strong, and there are outstanding treatments that need to be performed.

The purchase price is often determined the same as the merger. At closing, the seller closes their current practice and encourages all patients to change to the buyer. The buyer delivers a portion of the negotiated purchase price at this time with the remainder being delivered at a future date based on how many patients were retained and how much treatment was performed. Alternatively, the buyer may simply pay an agreed upon amount up front. While this does simplify the transaction, the purchase price may be somewhat reduced since it is based on a ‘best guess’ of how many patients will be retained and how much actual treatment will be performed.

Walk Away

If you do not want to or are unable to identify a successor and sell your practice, and you can make the financials work, you can choose to close your practice and walk away. However, be aware of state regulations around patient records and notification that may govern your decision.

Closing a practice can be very difficult for patients, especially if you are in an underserved rural area where there may not be many other options.

Making Decisions that Retain Patients and Staff

Many dentists are unsure of mentioning that they are looking to transition due to a fear of losing current patients. However, the reality of it is that patients and staff tend to understand that you will eventually be phasing out.

Strategies for Transition

Sow the seeds of your decision early

Talk to staff about your long-term plans before you actively begin the process. This can take place over months – even years – before your decision, and it can be very informal. Start mentioning your reasons, such as:

  • Your (grand)kids are growing up and you wish you had more time with them – perhaps you could cut back your own hours if you brought in another dentist
  • You have been dreaming of sandy beaches and are looking forward to retirement
  • A family member’s health issue is demanding more of your time
  • Plant these seeds with your staff early so they gradually become used to the idea and are not blindsided by your announcement. You can do the same with patients by mentioning that you are nearing retirement and may cut back your hours. Of course, you should reassure both patients and staff that the practice will continue to deliver the highest quality care.

You can also ask staff for their input and involve them in the decision-making process. Often the staff feels like family and has a vested interest in the practice's success. Do everything you can to bolster this feeling and gain their support throughout the transition.

Get staff on board

Do everything you can to ensure the staff are ready to fully embrace the potential change in ownership. Find ways to involve them in the process – one great way to do this is to get their help with some of the details. You may find that this will alleviate some of the strain on you:

  • Ask them to do a narrative about the practice and community – you may be able to use parts of the narrative to show how great the opportunity is for a potential buyer. Be sure to include any community incentives!
  • Have them update their individual job descriptions and the practices policy manuals – the more organized your practice is, the better it looks to buyers.
  • Consider having them take a good look at your collection policies and make sure your accounts receivables are up to date.
  • Have them make a list of the ideal qualities they want to see in a new owner – include any skill sets the practices patients have been asking for.
  • Take a look at the necessary documents that will be required by buyers and lenders. Following is a list to work from:
    • Tax returns (last five years)
    • Employee list with compensation, dates of hire and job descriptions
    • Financial statements (last five years and YTD including P&L’s)
    • Description of services offered and referred, broken out by treatment codes
    • Copy of current lease and renewal amendments, or mortgage
    • List of all dental equipment with age and condition
    • List of all office equipment and furnishings to include in the sale

Be honest and open

There is no substitute for being honest about your intentions and timeline. If you find that this conversation is difficult, we suggest simply putting yourself in their shoes. You will know what to say if you treat them as you would want to be treated yourself – you have formed strong relationships with these individuals and you will not want to see them feeling hurt or confused – and they will feel the same about you.

Valuable Resources

Free to ADA members

Build Your Team

Make sure you understand the process and protect yourself by building your experienced team early in the process. Your team for the sale is your trusted advisors. You will not need this full team assembled on day one. However, all of the following team members will likely play an important role in the sale of your practice.

Team Members

Fiduciary or Financial Planner

It is time to consider your personal finances.

Smart planning will help you make sure your finances are in tip-top shape before making a purchase — and give you the confidence that your needs will be met for the long run.

If you do not already have one, you may want to meet with a certified financial planner in your area. Ask your friends for recommendations and remember that it is a good idea to interview at least three individuals and research their credentials before choosing one. You need to have someone you can trust to help you arrange your finances to meet your financial milestones.


As a practice owner, your personal and practice finances might be intertwined. It is important that you begin considering them separately. Talk with your CPA for recommendations.

Make sure you maximize the various aspects of the sale, including such opportunities as appraising any equipment that may enable you to take a tax credit, by engaging the services of a certified accountant who is experienced in dental practice sales.


You will want to hire an attorney experienced in dental practice purchases to ensure your interests are protected and you comply with all applicable laws.

Since specific laws vary from state to state, engage a local attorney to help navigate the details and answer questions along the way. The ADA offers guidance on finding and vetting a local attorney who is right to help you manage the transaction.

Real Estate Professional

Some states require the services of a real estate broker when a dental practice is sold - even when the sale of real estate is not involved. Make sure to consult with a real estate professional early in the process to ensure compliance with state laws.

Do Not Forget Your Most Important Team: Your Family

Your purchase will greatly affect how you and your partner’s finances and work-life balance. Make sure you include them in your decision-making process.

Valuable Resources

Free to ADA members

Steering clear of pitfalls

Gather Documents

Get Organized and Get Ahead of the Game

In order for a sale to proceed smoothly, you will need to have a number of documents ready to present to a dentist for them to make an offer on your practice. Although some of this information will need to be updated when a buyer is found, you should have the following documents ready to hand to a potential buyer. You want to show that you and your practice are organized and efficient.

What buyers need from you for financing

Buyers, and their lender, will need access to several financial documents as a first step of the sale. You will need to gather all of the following:

  • Tax returns (last five years)
  • Employee list with compensation, dates of hire and job descriptions
  • Financial statements (last five years and YTD including P&L’s)
  • Description of services offered and referred, broken out by treatment codes
  • Copy of current lease and renewal amendments, or mortgage
  • List of all dental equipment with age and condition
  • List of all office equipment and furnishings to include in the sale

You May Also Need

This transition will generate a lot of paperwork. Beyond those needed for financing, many other documents may be needed as part of the transition whether you are choosing to make a complete sale or to gradually transition your practice to an associate.

Additional Documentation

Documents to Gather for Due Diligence

Due Diligence is the time for the buyer to understand the inner workings of the practice and ensure that they are getting what they are paying for. Let's look at how the buyer will be looking at your practice during this critical time. The buyer's due diligence checklist should include answering questions regarding the following:

Compatibility: First and foremost, are the philosophies of care in alignment? The buyer may want to ask you questions about how you would approach certain cases, or whether you share an enthusiasm for certain protocols. Additionally, do you share a work ethic and personal values? This may be harder to determine but can be very telling.

Treatment philosophy: The buyer may ask to see work in progress, including lab work, x-rays, doctor treatment plans, impressions and before/after photos.

Reputation: How is the practice viewed in the community? Are you well regarded by other dentists? How do specialists view the practice? The buyer will probably even look at online reviews to get a sense of the practice’s reputation.

Financials: Is the practice in strong financial shape? An informed buyer will ask about gross production and collections by doctor and hygienist (over 5 years and year-to-date) and other financial markers.

Practice facility: What is its overall appearance? Fresh, modern, or dated? Is the equipment up-to-date or will the practice need expensive upgrades? Is there sufficient parking or is it near public transit? The buyer will need information about the length and terms of the current lease.

Operational: How many new patients join each month? How many active patients does the practice have – and how many inactive? What is the recall system? Is the current fee schedule competitive for the area? When was it last updated? Which procedures are offered, and which are referred? Which insurance policies are accepted? The buyer may ask to review some charts to assess the quality of record keeping.

Legal matters: Are there any pending or threatened litigation matters? Is the practice in good standing with its liability insurance provider (and the IRS)?

Patient relationships: Do not be surprised if the buyer calls the office as a patient to see how the staff treats the average person. They will want to understand the practice from the patients' point of view and the clinical operations.

Confidentiality Agreements

Before a potential purchaser can review a valuation, financials or patient information, they must sign a confidentiality agreement. The confidentiality agreement is a legal, non-disclosure document that disallows the dentist from viewing confidential or proprietary information and from sharing any of the details they see. You will have the opportunity to access and review a template NDA when you have a potential buyer. Always make sure to have documents reviewed by your legal counsel.

Employment Agreements

If you choose an associate-to-ownership scenario, you will need a detailed employment agreement — potentially one for each party. These documents typically have several key elements, which the Dentist Employment Agreements: Key Legal Provisions guide covers in great detail. The guide (free to ADA members) includes samples you can use to structure your own agreements. Be sure to consider at least, the following:

Employee (associate)vs. independent contractor: This choice has major implications and should be determined based upon the structure of how the dentist is working in the practice. An independent contractor is contracted to provide care for some of the owner dentist’s patients. The contractor maintains control over all treatment decisions and acts as a business owner by managing their own schedule, fees, appointments and treatment planning. The contractor has responsibility for staffing, supply and maintenance costs, while paying their own salary, taxes and benefits. On the other hand, if you intend to hire an employee dentist, you will set the associate’s schedule, establish their vacation time, and pay for their benefits package. Practice owners often act as a mentor to associates, particularly if the associate is less experienced. This can be very rewarding for both sides. Be sure to understand the federal laws and penalties for incorrectly classifying independent contractor's vs employees.

Employee duties: The Duties section sets expectations for both sides, including the technical requirements of the role (licensure, legal compliance, etc.), the hours to be worked, hours on call, and any collection responsibilities or administrative duties. Compensation: No matter how much someone enjoys dentistry, they work to get paid. Again, this provision ensures that both parties agree to everything that may have been discussed during negotiation including salary, commission, methods of calculation, commission base and benefits.

Many other elements of the employment agreement should be addressed verbally and in writing. These include the terms of the contract and what happens if things go wrong. You and the other dentist will have a greater chance of success by being prepared for any eventuality.

Since specific laws vary from state to state, engage an attorney experienced in dental transitions in your state to help navigate the details and manage the transaction. They can outline any additional required documentation or forms needed to complete your transition.

Valuable Resources

Free to ADA members

Establish the Value

How do you determine the price to place on your practice? You should know the value of your practice any time you are considering a practice transition. Remember that buyers will want to know your target price very early in your conversations - and the buyer will want the financials to back it up before making an offer.

A professional valuation can help you understand your practice's current value. You can always begin with your accountant who will need to be involved as you pull the needed paperwork together.

Making a ballpark estimate

It is typical for dental practices sell for 65-85% of the average of the last 3 years collections. For a very rough estimate of the target range, average your last 3 years collections and multiply by .65 for the low end and .85 for the top end.

This is a starting point! Make sure you compile the financials and other documents found on this page to justify the price and have them immediately available to an interested buyer.

Fair Market Value

Fair market value is usually defined as the cash, or cash equivalent price, for which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, both being adequately informed of the relevant facts, and neither being compelled to buy or sell. Fair market value also assumes prevailing economic and market conditions. Fair market value can also be thought of as the most likely price upon which a typical and rational buyer and seller will agree. Most dental practice valuations that are done in preparation for a sale strive to determine fair market value as the outcome.

The Bottom Line

Understanding your practice’s value is vital and gives you the information you need to make strategic financial decisions. That is why a practice valuation should be conducted annually, whether you are looking for a transition, or simply to understand the trends and how those may affect your financial future. If you are looking to make a significant change to your business, like bringing in a new dentist, you need to know your baseline so you can look back to ensure the new hire is having the financial impact you desired.

Understanding your valuation:

Valuators typically use multiple valuation methods and then weight them differently based on the practice to help them determine fair market value. The most common are:

  • Market approach: much like ‘comps’ when buying a home, the market value is determined largely by finding sale prices of similar practices in similar locations.
  • Asset approach: consider the equipment, supplies on hand, and the furnishings. The asset approach determines the value of the things you can touch and see.
  • Discounted cash approach: uses formulas to project future earnings based on historical performance. This is the approach that the banks are very interested in seeing in a business plan, and why showing growth over the last 5 years is a huge selling point for buyers.

What You Need for a Valuation

Regardless of how you determine the practice value, you will need to provide financial documentation for the purchaser to secure financing. Avoid any unnecessary slowdowns by having this information ready.

Practice Financials

  • Tax returns (last five years)
  • Financial statements (last five years and YTD)
  • Current fee schedule, accounts receivable, and collection rate

Practice Statistics

  • Employee list with compensation, dates of hire, and job descriptions
  • New patients per month, with referral source data
  • Case acceptance rate
  • Dentist and hygiene production and monthly hours worked
  • Description of services offered and those referred
  • Recare percentage
  • Ratio of fee-for-service to managed care

Practice Space and Assets

  • Copy of current lease and renewal amendments, or mortgage
  • List of all dental equipment with age and condition
  • List of all office equipment and furnishings to include in the sale
  • Floor plan of current facility and photos
  • Liability and insurance policies

A buyer would consider a practice to be fair if the revenue generated from the practice is able to do the following:

  • Meet all practice-related expenses
  • Draw a reasonable salary
  • Pay off the debt in 5-7 years

If your financial position allows you flexibility in the sale price, you may consider it more important to have the perfect person rather than the maximum price.

Valuable Resources

Free to ADA members

The Sale Process

Get Ready: Don’t skimp on this part! Some of the things you need to do BEFORE searching for buyers are to determine your motivation, objectively access your practice in light of your goals, implement updates appropriately, create a plan (and a backup plan), have a valuation done, put your transition team together, and determine how you will handle notifying staff of your intentions.

Get a non-disclosure agreement ready to be signed by you and potential buyers before having in-depth conversations. Before a potential purchaser or associate can review valuation, financials or patient information, they must sign a confidentiality agreement. This document simply precludes either of you from discussing any of the details about the potential purchase with anyone who is not directly involved in helping to make the final decision.

Find the right buyer who shares the practice’s treatment philosophy. Since the value in the practice is in the patient care that is delivered, it is important to find a buyer who shares the practice's mission, vision and values. Finding the right buyer will ensure continuity of patient care and ensure your legacy for years to come.

Work with the buyer to negotiate an offer or Letter of Intent (LOI) Although not legally binding (except for specific clauses which will be called out in the document) the LOI is the most important document generated during your sale. It will become the roadmap for the entire process and works best when the doctors work together to negotiate all the details.

This document delineates all the parameters of a sale and clearly articulates every aspect of the agreement you have negotiated, including:

  • Purchase price
  • Tax ramifications
  • Goodwill
  • Included and Excluded assets
  • Accounts receivable
  • Earnest money
  • Due diligence
  • Closing data
  • Representations and warranties (typically a separate legal document)
  • Restrictive covenant
  • Employment terms of the seller
  • Contingent upon financing clause
  • Lease agreement or real estate terms
  • Death or disability clause
  • Retreatment
  • Work in progress guidelines
  • Mutual indemnification

Due Diligence typically lasts about 45 days but if the incoming dentist has thoroughly evaluated the practice, from both the financial and the clinical sides, this period can be shortened substantially.

The Asset Purchase Agreement (Closing document)

Consider the APA or asset purchase agreement to be the final step in the transfer of ownership. This will be signed at, or very close to, the date the new dentist will be introduced as the new owner of the practice. These documents, unlike the letter of intent, are 100% legally binding. You should always have your attorney thoroughly review these for accuracy and to ensure they follow state laws. While you may have clauses specific to your situation in addition to this list, at a minimum (as applicable), confirm that your Purchase and Sale Agreement contains the following:

  • Sale of assets and assumption of contracts – usually refers to a list attached for all assets that will transfer to the buyer, which should specifically state the assets are free and clear of encumbrances. To the extent an asset may be unencumbered, the obligations the buyer will assume must be specifically stated in the asset list.
  • Sellers Debts and Obligations clause will specify any other obligations (including lease agreements) which buyer will assume.
  • Closing date – usually “on or before (DATE).” The time and place to be mutually agreeable.
  • Sellers Obligations at closing (documents seller must sign, transfer of books, files, stock transfer, etc.
  • Sellers continuing obligations – to execute and deliver documents as may be required with the intention to effectuate the obligations of the contract.
  • Organization of Seller – general language confirming seller’s authority to sell the business, including reference to outstanding capitalization (or lack thereof) or stock transfer issues. And acknowledgement to approval by partners or directors as applicable.
  • Seller’s acknowledgement of financial statements previously rendered and continued accuracy
  • Seller’s warranty as to existing lawsuits, pending claims or proceedings, acknowledgement of prior insurance coverage and obligation to maintain tail insurance; seller’s compliance with laws
  • Seller’s warranty of title to all assets being transferred and the same are not subject to any encumbrances
  • Seller’s warranty as to no knowledge of violation or claim of violation of any patents, copywrites or intellectual property claims, and that seller is under no obligation to pay any royalties or fees related to use of intellectual property related to Seller’s operation of business.
  • Warranty as to the presence or absence of an obligation to pay a broker. And provision for seller’s payment of broker absent any obligation by buyer.

Plan for Retirement

Many dentists are so focused on getting to retirement that they overlook making plans for what they will do in retirement. Do you want to travel? Devote time to causes you care about? Attend all your grandchildren’s soccer games? Move somewhere warm? Talk things through with your family to make plans for a satisfying retirement.

Retirement offers you the chance to follow personal interests — but it also allows you to contribute to the dental community in new ways through teaching, volunteering or mentoring. You could keep working in your practice a few days a month or you might consider serving new populations.

Imagine how you can apply your talents. Even if you are really looking forward to some well-earned downtime, complete the worksheet to see what may pique your interest. Consider how you might balance your passion for dentistry with other pursuits.

What Comes Next: Your Personal and Professional Growth

Share your skills to solve access to care issues

Many retiring dentists devote some time to solving access to care issues. If that sounds interesting, begin by deciding where you would like to take on the battle: in a private office, another clinic, the legislature, through professional leadership or even in another country. Review your options.

Improving access to care often starts close to home — even in a private office. Through programs like Dental Lifeline Network, Wounded Warriors, Give Kids a Smile and others, you can provide care to underserved populations right in the office with familiar equipment and supplies. You can control when you see patients and you do not need to travel anywhere. However, be aware that participating in these programs will take up chair time, often have a high no-show rate, and can come with hefty expenses. If you decide that this is something you would like to pursue, you may want to discuss it with the new owner of your practice as part of the sale.

Many Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Community Health Centers (CHCs) seek volunteers who can provide care within their clinics. The beauty of this model is that after you have been approved, you can typically let the clinic know what days you are available and what procedures you prefer to do — they will schedule the patients and you just show up and do dentistry! The clinic staff handles any follow up care so you really do only what you want on your own terms. In most cases, because you are covered under sovereign immunity, you do not need to carry any malpractice insurance; the only cost is truly time out of your day. Search your local area for “free dental clinics” or talk to your local association to learn what might be nearby. If you have allowed your dental license to lapse, you should check with the state dental board to see if there is a health access limited license that will allow you to see patients in healthcare access settings.

The ADA Foundation organizes dental Mission of Mercy clinics throughout the United States, with unlimited opportunities for dentists to practice dentistry or work with their state association to organize these free dental care events.

Lastly, some dentists elect to go to underserved countries and provide care in either a clinic setting or in rural locations. (Picture tooth extractions done in folding chairs on the side of a mountain!). There are many opportunities through organizations such as Doctors Without Borders or Haiti Outreach Ministries that organize these types of trips. You could also check with dental schools who offer these opportunities — they often need experienced dentists to oversee students as they provide care. Think about this as an opportunity to expand your horizons.

Share your knowledge through teaching

Lifelong learning has kept your skills sharp — and maybe you want to expand your skills even further. Finally, you have the time to attend some of the conferences you wish you had time for! Go one step further and consider speaking or presenting on a topic that you are passionate about.

Next, think about passing on the knowledge you have accumulated throughout your career to dental students or even high schools or colleges. If you live near a dental school, you might consider volunteering or becoming part-time faculty. Many schools have extramural rotation sites that are always looking for volunteers to work with their students. Especially if you are interested in supplementing your retirement income, you could work as a professor in a middle, high school or local college. Passing your knowledge to the next generation can be an incredibly rewarding endeavor.

Alternatively, you could mentor a local dentist through a study club or other arrangement. Many local ADA chapters have mentorship opportunities.

You might also join a peer review committee or other group. Contact your state dental association for available opportunities. You could even join product evaluation groups, such as the ADA Clinical Evaluators (ACE) Panel, which evaluates new dental products and techniques.

Leadership and Advocacy

Get involved with your local or state association. You can start small. Just go to a local meeting and think about running for office or becoming a delegate. Many state associations offer leadership training that will give you the skills you need — you just need the time. And if you are particularly passionate about an issue, you could join the ADA’s advocacy efforts and work with officials at the local, state or federal level.

Other Interests

Now is also the time to explore new interests or expand your commitment to activities beyond dentistry.

You can start with your community. Maybe you have been involved in a local organization or group for years and have thought about stepping into a more active role or formal leadership. Whether it is a local non-profit, church, children’s or grandchildren’s sports, or other activities, there are plenty of opportunities to get more involved.

Or perhaps you have always wanted to try cooking, learn a language, improve your bowling game, write a book — anything. While many of these can be self-directed, you can also look for local entities — a community college, library or park district, for example — that offer classes or meet-ups for like-minded people. Websites like Amava can also connect you with people who share your interests. If you have a hobby, you may want to investigate how you can use that to boost your retirement income while you do things that you love!

Both personal and professional development can open new doors. As you look to sell your practice, you will free up time and energy to pursue these very rewarding avenues.