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7 Reasons Why Your Dental Supply Costs are Too High


You may have heard of the rule where the total percentage that supply costs take up of your practices overall spend on an annual basis shouldn’t exceed 6%. Yes, it is common for practices to start out at this percentage, but then they don’t review prices regularly and this percentage ends up creeping up to around 10%, which can affect the profitability and the stability of the practice. To help you lower your percentage, here are seven reasons why we believe that your dental supply costs are too high.

You’re Paying Too Much

This may sound silly, and stating the obvious, but this is the main reason why your dental supply bills are so high. This is why we at GPSDental price our dental supplies competitively, because why would you pay for the same product at a higher price elsewhere? If you follow a sales rep’s advice on what supplies to buy, they will add their own mark-up and you could be paying a lot more than you should. I’ve often asked why dental offices do this, and I get the same stock answer that this is the way it’s always been done in our dental office. Yes, there is more time on your part needed to shop around for the best supplies, but you will be saving money.

You’re Buying Too Much

This is quite common where dental offices like to have an oversupply of everything they have – just in case. This is a bad idea as some items may go out of date before they get the chance to be used. I’ve seen ten units of impression material on one shelf in a treatment room before, and when I asked why the dentist had so many cases, they said it was because the sales rep ordered this for us. Only order this amount of material if you want to, not because your rep told you it was a good idea. Try and start an inventory control review system, which helps with keeping your purchases as lean as possible and only have a small amount of stock that will cover your operations, whilst not being excessive.

No Hoarding

It is common for staff members to hoard lots of supplies in their treatment rooms leaving the stock room bare, which can lead to over ordering. It’s a bad idea to keep five boxes of gloves in your cupboards for no good reason!

One Purchasing Person

We would recommend that you only have one person in sole charge of ordering supplies for your dental office. If multiple people are involved in purchasing supplies, they may not know what other people have ordered, which can lead to the over ordering of supplies. Multiple people ordering multiple products means that there is no accountability if you do over order. We would recommend giving your ordering person a reward if they keep costs down, but make sure they have a good enough budget to cover everything that is needed in the dental office. The last thing you want to do is to under order!


It could be the case that the dentists are seeing too many patients, and not being as productive as they should be. The more treatments that a dentist does on the patient in one appointment, the less cost of supplies there will be. Let’s take an example. The dentist may use cotton rolls, 2 by 2s and covers for the chairs and the cost of these supplies is the same whether the dentist does one prophy or one prophy with scaling and root planning. Therefore, encourage your dentists to do as much treatment as they can per appointment. High production procedures are a sure-fire way of reducing your supply percentage, whilst improving the oral health of all your patients.

Scrutinizing Supply Invoices

You may think, I have no time for this! But, we would encourage you to make time, as it could save you a lot of money. It is common for many of us to look at the charges for the supplies on our statements, think it is a bit high, then shrug our shoulders and move on to more important things. Do you really need to buy things that are readily available in Walmart for half the price such as notebooks, pens and other non-dental specific products? It is important not to be paranoid when you go through and take a close look at your supply invoices, but it can really help you keep costs down if you regularly review invoices and question whether the spend is absolutely necessary.

Non-Dental Products in the Dental Supply category

This is quite a common issue that we see. Some dental offices include their spend for non-dental specific products in their “dental supply” category. It is vitally important that you don’t mischaracterize your office supplies as dental supplies, and this is especially true if you buy these products from the same supplier where your real dental supplies are purchased from. It can be an expensive mistake if your office supplies are included in the supply column. Another thing that you should take into consideration is implant parts. These can result in a rise in the supply percentage if you are not careful. Equipment such as screws, analogs and abutments can be pricey, and it is essential that you add this equipment as a “lab cost”. Oh, and make sure other tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches for example are included as equipment, and not dental supplies. This may seem trivial, but all of these costs mount up over time if you continually make this mistake year on year.

Do you have other tips for helping to lower the dental supply percentage of your office’s annual spend? Be sure to let us know, and we may feature you in a future blog post to help others learn from your successes.