DSO Myths and Facts

Dental support organizations like Heartland Dental have many myths surrounding them.
Redefining the stigma behind dental support organizations.

People talk, and when it comes to the topic of dental support organizations, people talk a lot. I’ve heard many misconceptions about what dental support organizations do and how we do it. I can see how the misunderstandings people have about DSOs could be of concern. However, that’s just it – they’re misunderstandings.

Myth 1: DSOs aren’t run by dentist. 

Fact: Although I no longer practice dentistry, I am a dentist by trade. I earned my Doctorate of Dental Medicine from Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine in 1980. I was a dentist for almost 20 years before I founded Heartland Dental. Today, our executive team is comprised of highly qualified dentists and skilled business men and women. Since we do support dentists’ non-clinical needs, the majority which are business related, I believe there needs to be a good mix of both (dentists and business professionals) to successfully support dentists. Our team works together to offer world-class support to dentists, often asking them for ideas and input and encouraging collaboration. If we didn’t work together, we wouldn’t operate as smoothly as we do.  

Myth 2: If I affiliate with a DSO, I will be stripped of my professional freedom. 

Fact: As a dental support organization, we provide non-clinical services to supported dentists and give them the tools they need to advance themselves and be successful. I know how important it is to be able to run your office the way you see fit, and we give supported dentists the freedom to do that. In fact, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Dentists make the final decision on all clinical matters. Even as far as non-clinical support, we always welcome your thoughts and opinions so that we can continue to improve upon the services we offer.

Myth 3: The sole focus of DSOs is production, not patients. 

Fact: Our main priority is patients. Without them, the dental industry would cease to exist. As stated in a previous post, at the end of the day all dental professionals have the same end goal of advancing the dental industry for the benefit of their patients. Whether your path to dentistry leads you to private practice or to be supported by a DSO, your passion for dentistry and your commitment to your patients should be no different. Our supported dentists are offered continuing education courses solely based on improving their leadership skills for the benefit of their office staff and patients. At Heartland Dental, we believe that the key to your success is doing right by every single patient every single time. 

Recently, Apex 360, an online news source and digital magazine for the dental industry, did an extensive feature dental support organizations. I felt the feature was well written and gave both private practice and dental support organizations equal representation and an opportunity for both their voices to be heard. To read the feature story in its entirety, click here.

The reality is, people are afraid of what they don’t know. At Heartland Dental, our focus is to make a positive impact on the dental industry and support our dentists in the best and most effective ways possible. Ultimately, we do what we do so that our supported dentists can focus on being dentists.



Rick Workman, DMD

Founder, Former CEO and Active Chairman, Heartland Dental

Rick Workman, DMD, graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine in 1980. After starting his own practice, he set out to create a world-class dental support organization that would relieve the management burden for dentists by offering them an array of non-clinical administrative support. Today, Heartland Dental is the largest dental support organization in the country. In addition to being the founder of Heartland Dental, he is also the past president of the Association of Dental Support Organizations. To read more about Dr. Rick Workman, click here