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Updated: April 1st, 2020
As with any medical practice, running a dental practice requires specialized equipment. Not only do you need imaging machines, dental chairs, operatory lighting, and hygiene tools, but you also need computers, dental supplies, software, and dental office furniture.
Obtaining the right equipment is critical, but buying big-ticket items can disrupt your cash flow. Fortunately, dental equipment financing can help. Whether you’re building a dental practice from scratch or trying to grow your operations, financing your dental equipment can put you in a better position to succeed.
You might need new dental equipment for a handful of reasons. Maybe you’re starting your own dental practice, buying an existing practice that has outdated equipment, or planning to upgrade old machines.
As technology advances, you may need to purchase new medical equipment to facilitate operations or treatments. Top-of-the-line equipment and technology can help you expand your services, treat patients more easily, or improve admin work. A 3D printer, for example, makes it easier to create precise crown and bridge models, while advanced electronic health record (EHR) software can facilitate patient billing and payment.
Financing your equipment purchases is a particularly helpful solution if you have a growth project in mind that requires a lot of working capital. Think: hiring a new dental hygienist or upping your marketing budget. No matter your goals, financing can help you get the equipment you need to improve your practice without restricting your cash flow.
You can use equipment financing to cover a variety of different dental equipment costs, including the following:
Equipment financing can also cover other medical practice costs, like point-of-sale software, billing service software, computers, EHR software, and furniture for the office.
Similar to regular equipment financing, dental equipment financing is designed to help you purchase or replace the equipment you need to serve your patients and get ahead in the dental industry. There are two types of equipment financing: leases and loans.
Dental equipment leasing means you pay a monthly fee to rent your dental equipment for a set time period. At the end of your lease, you have the option to return the equipment, renew your lease, or buy the equipment at market value.
With a loan, you borrow money upfront to buy your dental equipment, then make monthly repayments on the equipment. Depending on your lender and personal and business credit scores, you may be able to finance up to 100% of the cost of your equipment. After you finish these repayments, you own the equipment outright.
Whether you choose a lease or loan depends on the type of equipment you’re interested in. Items with a high turnover are more likely to become outdated over time. Leasing is less of a commitment and ensures you can replace items easily if the technology becomes obsolete. High-tech imaging machines, for instance, usually require frequent upgrades to both your software and hardware (like cameras), which can be expensive.
However, if you’re planning to buy a piece of equipment you know will last 10 years or more, opting for a loan can save you money long-term and add value to your business assets. Plus, buying your equipment may help with tax deductions, too. According to Section 179 of the IRS’ revenue procedure, you may be able to deduct the cost of your equipment as an expense on your income taxes.
The lifespan of your dental equipment depends on how busy your practice is, as well as how well you’re able to maintain your items with regular service checks and repairs. In general, most dental equipment will last at least a decade, if not more. However, items like drills and X-ray machines may only last three to five years, depending on the quality of the items and how often you use them.
Most dental practice owners can qualify for an equipment loan, but the interest rates and terms you receive will depend on your equipment, credit score, business financials, and lender. Because the equipment usually acts as collateral in an equipment loan, you don’t need to have a perfect credit score to qualify, nor do you need to provide other business or personal assets to get approved.
Interest rates for equipment loans generally range from 5% to 30%, depending on the lender. Not every equipment loan requires you to provide a down payment, but if you’re able to put some money down, you may score a better interest rate.
You have a few different financing options for equipment loans. Bank loans and loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) usually offer the lowest interest rates and most favorable terms.
With online lenders, though, the financing process is much faster. Online lenders typically only ask for a few documents, like an invoice for the equipment and three to six months of bank statements. Depending on the lender, you might hear back within several hours or just a couple of days. If you’re approved, you can usually finance 80-100% of the cost of the equipment.
If you have a great credit score and can afford to wait several months for a response, you may want to try applying for a bank or SBA loan to score a better rate. On the other hand, if you need to buy or replace equipment quickly to keep operations running, using an online lender is your best bet.
At Funding Circle, our dental equipment term loans are designed to help dental practice owners like you get the equipment you need to meet your goals. If you qualify, the terms are flexible and for up to five years, with competitive interest rates. Plus, we offer fixed monthly payments (and no prepayment penalties), so you can manage your practice’s cash flow more easily.
The application process takes just 10 minutes and you can get a decision in as little as 24 hours. Once you submit your documents, you’ll be assigned a dedicated account manager to help answer any questions you have.
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.