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Chapter 3: How Much Do Dental Supplies Cost?

January 12, 2022

 

According to Pediatric Dentistry Today, about 4% to 6% of a dental office’s revenue goes towards dental supplies —  in other words, if an office generates $1 million in revenue, $40,000 to $60,000 will go towards dental supplies. This number may be lower or higher depending on a practice’s purchasing behaviors. For example, a dental practice might spend much more than 6% of revenue on supplies if it doesn’t establish a budget and stick to it. By contrast, a practice can reach its overhead goals if it keeps an accurate inventory count, comparison shops and only orders what it needs.

What can you do if you’re spending too much on dental supplies? Creating a budget is the first step to gaining control of your spending. This chapter explores how to budget for the essentials and includes the average cost of basic dental supplies so you know where to start.

If you already set your budget and want to find the best prices on dental supplies quickly, Method can help you save more in less time.

Dental Supplies Price List

Dental supply prices vary greatly depending on the brand, style and material used. Product costs also differ depending on the supplier and the deals they offer. If you order dental supplies online, you’ll face a wide range of prices.

To show you what to expect, here’s a list of basic supplies and their typical costs:

  • Mouth mirror: $1 to $7
  • Single-ended explorer: $4 to $26
  • Periodontal probe: $8 to $14
  • Bib holder: $2 to $12
  • Patient bibs: $13 to $94 per 500
  • Cotton rolls: $10 to $104 per 2,000
  • 2-by-2-inch gauze: $11 to $126 per 5,000
  • Saliva ejector: $3 to $41 per 100
  • Syringe tip: $7 to $109 per 250
  • Sickle scaler: $8 to $59
  • Prophy paste: $11 to $79 per 200 units
  • Dental tray: $3 to $24

How to Budget for Dental Supplies

Your practice does not have to settle for cheap dental supplies to keep overhead low. By creating and following a budget, you can be sure you have enough money for the most important items. Here are steps to creating a budget for supplies:

  1. List what you have and need: First, evaluate what supplies you already have and determine what you need to order. Create a list of everything you have and need, and include how often you restock these items. You can look at past records to forecast your future use.
  2. Estimate costs: Estimate how much money you need for each item on the list and include a monthly amount. You can use past invoices to jot down the costs of items you regularly buy. If you need to budget for new supplies, consider getting quotes from suppliers.
  3. Add it all up: Add up all the items to get a yearly amount. Is the total 4% to 6% of your annual overhead costs? If it’s way over, you’ll need to make some adjustments.
  4. Cut unnecessary items: Look at your list and determine if there are items you don’t need to buy again or restock as often as you do. Cut any supplies that don’t benefit your patients or your bottom line.
  5. Review: Aim to review your budget every month and change the prices and supply usage as needed. This will give you the most accurate view of your spending and help you reach your overhead goals.

If you already have a budget, compare it to how much you’re actually spending every month. If the numbers match, you’re on the right track. If they don’t, it’s time to cut some costs.

How to Gain Oversight of Dental Supply Purchases

 

Did your budget reveal overspending? Dental supplies can easily cost more if you don’t have the appropriate controls in place. Here’s what you can do to increase the visibility of all your dental supply purchases:

  • Set access controls: As we mentioned in the first chapter, access controls let you manage who can make supply purchases. For example, you might require employees to enter a password before accessing your purchasing software. You can also use access controls to keep duties segregated.
  • Assign one employee to order supplies: If you only let one trusted employee do all the ordering, you’ll know who to hold accountable if overspending occurs. Plus, with only one person in charge of restocking supplies, there will be less risk of errors or double-ordering.
  • Review purchases regularly: Even if you completely trust the employee responsible for ordering supplies, you’ll still want to review purchases regularly to make sure they’re sticking to the budget. With purchasing software like Method, you’ll have easy access to all the documents you need to monitor spending, including receipts, invoices and payments.
  • Audit your inventory: Although you might use an inventory management system to track stock levels, you should still take a physical count every so often. By counting what you have on hand, you can ensure it matches what you think you have. During your audit, check product expiration dates and remove supplies that won’t get used before they expire. If you find many expired or near-expired products, ask your employee to order fewer of these items.

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