Dentistry is a service, certainly. But equally true is the fact that dentistry is a business. The most successful dental practices are those that give careful consideration and attention to both the service aspect and the business aspect of their practices.

A unified approach to serving your patients well and managing your business well will ensure your practice is poised for growth and success.

Here are five ways to make your dental practice run more smoothly on both fronts:

1. Market yourself

Let's be honest. Who really likes to go to the dentist?

Some people have had a negative dental experience. Others have dental anxiety. This can make it challenging to get patients through the door. Target your marketing to address and combat patient fears. Market your services as "comfortable," "painless" and "convenient." Then, make sure they are.

Do you offer oral sedation? Warm blankets? Noise-canceling headphones? Let potential patients know about these great amenities and services.

2. Create cash-flow channels

Jane Pack, CEO of the National Association of Women Business Owners, says many dental practices view billing as their sole opportunity to increase cash flow. Not true.

Marketing to new patients and paying attention to the metrics, investing in technology that has direct patient benefits and keeping a laser-like focus on inventory control are all ways to affect cash inflow and outflow in a positive manner.

3. Offer convenient financing options

The American Dental Association reports that one of the main reasons people fail to seek needed dental treatment is cost. Unfortunately, many people who need dental work either don't have dental insurance or don't have adequate coverage.

But your practice doesn't have to lose income due to financial barriers. Financing companies like CareCredit offer convenient financing for preventive, restorative and even cosmetic dental care. Have a well trained, sales-oriented team member dedicated to handling financing inquiries and enjoy the increase in booked procedures.

4. Offer extended hours

Individuals have many choices today in who they will select for their healthcare needs. Set your practice apart by offering extended hours as a convenience for busy people. Offer evening and weekend appointments, if at all possible.

Even if it's only one night a week or one weekend a month, these appointment slots are so valuable to business people, students, busy families and many others. During regular hours, leave a little room in the schedule for walk-ins and emergencies.

Remember, good dentistry is not enough. Good customer service is a must in today’s market.

5. Train your team

If the goal is growth, it's important to plan and be ready before that growth spurt happens. Recruit and train your team members so they are ready to wow new patients from day one.

Great technical skills are a must, but the soft skills (service, compassion, warmth, smiles) are just as important. Remember, the goal is to create generational patients, those who will return again and again and will tell their friends and family about their great experience at your practice.

Every industry evolves over time, and dentistry is no different. Great dental practices will embrace new trends and market demands.

Advances in technology and techniques have taken dentistry to new heights in recent years. But there is no substitute for excellent, highly individualized, compassionate care. This is where you distinguish yourself.

Make it your goal to provide a world-class dental experience to every patient, every time and watch your patient base grow.