If you’re opening up a new dental practice—or even reorganizing an established dentistry practice—then maintaining a thorough dental office inventory list is critical. That’s because even the smallest dental offices have an ultra-long list of supplies, materials, and assets to manage.
This brief article will outline how to organize dental inventory and provide a dental office inventory management template to help you get started with tracking inventory right away.
How to organize dental inventory
Eager to get your dental practice organized? Once your shelves, storage cabinets, and exam rooms are cleaned out, you’re ready to get started. Here are your next steps:
1. Figure out what dental inventory you’ll need—and where to put it
Now that your dental office is organized, decide precisely what you’ll need to buy to keep operations running smoothly. This includes supplies, materials, and equipment used to practice dentistry.
If you practice a dental specialty, your inventory needs might be different or more complex than those of a traditional dentist. But in general, all types of dentistry practices stock many of the same items. For example, all dentists need dental surgical kits, disposable bibs, professional-grade toothpaste, mouth trays, and face masks. You’ll also want to stock up on dental tips, evacuators, mixing pads, and positioning devices.
If you give your patients new toothbrushes or ask them to self-address postcards as appointment reminders, you’ll need to keep these items on hand, too.
If your practice provides X-ray services, you’ll need to acquire an X-ray machine, imaging supplies, and the personal protective equipment required to keep you and your patients safe.
You’ll also need to account for any supplies and technology your administrative team will need. This includes computers, phones, printers, paper and ink, pens, notepads, stamps, file folders and cabinets, and so on.
Finally, you’ll need to determine where all of the items you need will be stocked. Plan to place a week or so worth of supplies in each exam room, then keep backup storage nearby in a supply closet. A backroom or storage unit is a great place to keep overflow inventory and extra office supplies.
2. Create your dental office supply inventory list
As you decide what you’ll buy, make an exhaustive, detailed list. If your practice is already open or you’ve purchased an existing practice, take stock of what you already own, too. You can create this inventory list on paper, using a spreadsheet, or by inputting data directly into an inventory app.
However you decide to create this list, you’ll want to include every last detail about the products you plan to carry. This includes the item name, serial number, SKU, vendor details, item location, minimum quantity, expiry date, quantity in stock, and any other details that matter to you. (If you’re using an inventory app, you can also add pictures and a barcode/QR code.)
Once you’ve finished gathering all these details, you’ll have effectively created a dental inventory checklist.
If that feels daunting, you can use Sortly’s dental office inventory spreadsheet (see below) as a jumping-off point—we’ve pre-filled it with some of the most popular items found in dental offices.
Choosing an inventory management system
How do you know whether you should create an inventory list using a sheet of paper, a spreadsheet, or inventory management software? There are pros and cons to all three of these inventory systems.
In theory, a sheet of paper is the simplest way to track inventory. But there are tons of limitations, from simply misplacing that inventory sheet to realizing that this kind of tracking system is unsustainable. After all, as your dental practice grows, you’ll find tracking every last dental supply by hand is virtually impossible.
An inventory spreadsheet has limitations, too, but it is an excellent tool for beginners looking to organize their dental practices. Of course, spreadsheets are vulnerable to human error, especially when employees transfer data from a piece of paper into a spreadsheet. Plus, when items have similar names, it can be hard to differentiate products.
An inventory app or inventory management software is the most advanced tool for tracking inventory, although many products are customizable and intuitive to use. Sortly, for instance, offers key features like a highly-visual inventory list, low stock alerts, and easy barcode and QR code scanning for checking items in and out.
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3. Set alerts for dwindling stock or approaching warranty end, expiry dates
Your dental practice will need to avoid stockouts and inventory spoilage to keep productivity up and costs down. And to do that properly, you’ll need to stay on top of low stock, upcoming warranty end dates, approaching expiration dates, and scheduled maintenance.
You can create a calendar to track all these dates to do this manually. However, you’ll need to count inventory regularly to stay on top of dwindling stock.
If managing these dates and stock levels sounds too time-consuming, consider switching to inventory management software. Solutions like Sortly can keep track of these dates and stock levels for you, sending the right person customized in-app notifications and email alerts at just the right time.
Related: More about Sortly’s low stock alert feature
4. Maintain an accurate dental inventory list
If you’ve decided to use a dental inventory spreadsheet to maintain your inventory, you’ll have to determine just how frequently your team will physically count inventory. Your dental practice could count inventory every morning and evening, on Friday afternoons, once a month—whatever works for you.
The more frequently you count inventory, the more accurate your inventory list will be. Still, you’ll have to balance these inventory responsibilities with all the other tasks your team tends to—including taking care of your patients.
One option to free up time is to upgrade to a perpetual inventory system. This means that your dental office’s inventory numbers will always be accurate because you update your inventory system every time a product is checked in or out.
Thanks to lightning-fast barcode and QR code scanners built into your smartphone or tablet, practicing perpetual inventory management with an inventory app is intuitive and efficient.
You’ll still want to count inventory at the end of the year to hedge against inventory loss and double-check the whereabouts of your highest-value assets. But the process will feel more like an audit, not a full-blown inventory count.
Related: What’s the difference between physical and perpetual inventory?
Dental Office Inventory Template
Looking for a dental inventory checklist to get your practice organized? Our free dental office inventory template is the perfect starting-off point. And to help you get organized even faster, we’ve prepopulated the template with some of the most common items found in general dentistry practices.
The template is yours to customize, so feel free to input your practice’s unique inventory and assets. If you decide to upgrade to Sortly, you’ll be able to bulk import your customized template right into the inventory app at any time.
Sortly is a top-rated inventory app designed for businesses of all shapes and sizes, including dental practices. Our easy-to-use software works on smartphones, tablets, and computers and is designed for even the least tech-savvy users.
Best of all, Sortly automates some of the most time-consuming inventory management practices, from tracking what’s in every exam room to alerting you when you’re running low on dental bibs.
Plus, with customizable reports, the ability to bundle your inventory into kits, and tons of powerful automation features, Sortly can help your dental office stay organized for good.
Ready to get started with Sortly today? Claim your free, two-week trial today! Even if you’re not ready to try Sortly quite yet, you can always import your inventory spreadsheet right into the app.