Scaling a Dental Practice with Lollipop Dental

10 years ago, Mary Pham launched Lollipop Dental with a simple vision: to serve as many kids as possible with pediatric dentistry and orthodontics. She and her husband—a dentist and an orthodontist, respectively—had just graduated with a whopping amount of debt. But they found an affordable office space in Placentia, CA, that only needed to be stocked with equipment and supplies. Thus, Lollipop was born.

The name came from the xylitol lollipops they passed out to patients in goodie bags. Since its inception, Lollipop has grown to seven locations with 200 team members. In 2022, they saw more than 50,000 patients! Skytale founder, Ben Hernandez, spoke with Pham about her tips for scaling a dental practice. You can listen to the podcast here or read on for a few key takeaways.

Tips for Scaling a Dental Practice From a Successful Practice Owner

Here are a few best practices that Pham and her team have used to run a successful business:


As Pham’s practice scaled, she realized that what works for one location might not translate to another. And with so many locations, it’s impossible for a practice owner to do everything on your own. In fact, Pham thinks you can only manage around five to seven people. After that, you have to choose the right people to delegate to.

She also says that their team members’ responsibilities currently last about six months. As the company scales, things change at an exponential rate—including employee tasks. Helping employees understand their scope, and putting strong managers in place, is key to keeping every location running smoothly.

Offer Growth Opportunities

At one point, one of Pham’s dentists asked if there was growth for her beyond being an associate. Pham tasked her with making a list of parts of town where she was interested in living or serving. Many of the other dentists began participating in the experiment, as well. Pham wrote down each of the locations and did a demographic study to find out if there was a need for a Lollipop location there.

Ultimately, these new locations offered the dentists a new level of growth under Lollipop’s umbrella. It was a creative solution to grow the practice while supporting the staff.

Plan for Challenges and Difficulties

Pham suggests focusing on growth, staying resilient, responding to problems quickly, and trusting your team. “There will always be fires to put out, but don’t let it get you down,” she says. One of the company’s core values is problem-solving. By hiring people who can think through challenges and building a chain of command, she can trust that issues will be handled by the first responders.

Additionally, Pham explains that “every time we make a decision, we realize we should’ve done that sooner.” Problems can quickly fester and grow bigger, so it’s better to act proactively than reactively.

Be an Early Adopter

Lollipop Dental is an early adopter of technology. The company will invest in anything that’s exciting and might create a better patient experience. “The investment should serve a purpose or grow the business,” Pham says.

Could dental AI or other technology be the next step for scaling your dental practice? If so, consider building capital expenses into your budget. Budgeting gives you the power to plan the next steps for your practice.

Improve Employee Retention

In the early days, Lollipop Dental wasn’t retaining as many employees as they’d like. So Pham and her team decided to look seriously at why people were leaving and what they could do better.

They realized the company needed to do a better job explaining what the potential job roles and responsibilities were to applicants. They also decided to touch in with new employees more frequently at the 7, 14, 30, 60, and 90-day marks. Finally, during the interview process, they began honing in on applicants with aligned core values and without red flags—not just a warm body.

Find Creative Ways to Market

Much of Lollipop Dental’s patient acquisition has been organic. The company doesn’t spend much money on advertising. But they do spend on people, two in particular—a PR team member and social media manager.

Lollipop has a strong online presence with positive reviews and active social media content. Potential patients can engage in contests, community outreach, FAQs, and meet the team on social media. But at the end of the day, it’s about “serving the needs of patients the best we can,” Pham says. A high quality experience will usually lead to return visits and referrals, which ultimately can help a practice grow. 

Learn More From the Skytale Podcast

Did you know that we regularly release podcast interviews with industry experts like Mary Pham? We think that learning from other leaders is one of the best ways to grow your business and help it thrive. Listen to the full podcast with Pham or view more podcasts here!