Interview with Multi-Practice Owner
Dr. Mark Costes

Owning a dental practice isn’t an endeavor in which every dentist can succeed, and few know that better than Dr. Mark Costes.

Watch Dr. Costes discuss controlling chaos in a dental practice.


Listen to ownR's podcast with Dr. Costes

As an owner of ten practices, Costes’ path to becoming a multi-practice owner began at a young age, but not without inspiration from family members that prepared him for challenges later in life.


“Entrepreneurship goes generationally back in my genes,” Costes said. “My grandma — I hear stories about my grandma all the time, who was my mother's mom, who was the consummate entrepreneur. She had lots of small businesses.”


Costes’ father also played an instrumental role in his dental career. Costes and his father benefited from what he calls the “immigrant edge.” Costes was able to witness his father’s struggles moving through life and absorb those experiences while fueling his desire to one day be a successful dental practice owner. Following his father's example, Costes flexed his entrepreneurial muscles while working his way into dental school by pursuing different business opportunities, one of which was a single catering truck.

Before Costes became a practice owner, he experienced the dental profession in a way that could quickly leave many with nightmares. Following an accident during a baseball game, Costes suffered an injury that left him with a broken jaw and damaged teeth. After being referred to different specialty offices and requiring oral surgery and even a plastic surgeon, Costes found mentors in the dental professionals who helped him. Over the course of his twelve-month recovery period, Costes decided that he wanted to become a dentist.


After setting his sights on becoming a dentist, with a desire to own his own practice, Costes would be put to the test. Given his success, it might be hard to imagine Costes had a difficult time making it through dental school, let alone that he failed admission on multiple occasions. It took Costes three years and twenty-one attempts to get into dental school, a time during which he honed the entrepreneurial skills that eventually prepared him for taking up the mantle of a business owner.

Q&A with Dr. Costes

Costes said that he continued working towards dentistry as opposed to pharmacy or other healthcare fields due to the appeal of being an independent business owner.


“Because a lot of the same prerequisite classes are required, I decided on dentistry because I saw the writing on the wall that pharmacy, there are very few independent pharmacies now left in the world,” he said. “They've all gone corporate. Very few private practitioners in medicine. Most of them work for either a huge group or work for a hospital. But dentistry, at the time, was very much a cottage industry. It allowed much more opportunity to be a small business owner, and that's what attracted me.”

Before Costes became a practice owner, he experienced the dental profession in a way that could quickly leave many with nightmares. Following an accident during a baseball game, Costes suffered an injury that left him with a broken jaw and damaged teeth. After being referred to different specialty offices and requiring oral surgery and even a plastic surgeon, Costes found mentors in the dental professionals who helped him. Over the course of his 12-month recovery period, Costes decided that he wanted to become a dentist.


After setting his sights on becoming a dentist, with a desire to own his own practice, Costes would be put to the test. Given his success, it might be hard to imagine Costes had a difficult time making it through dental school, let alone that he failed admission on multiple occasions. It took Costes three years and twenty-one attempts to get into dental school, a time during which he honed the entrepreneurial skills that eventually prepared him for taking up the mantle of a business owner.

Formal education can only take one so far. Costes’ view is that self-education is just as instrumental to becoming successful. Dental schools often focus on ensuring that every student becomes a careful, experienced dentist capable of administering services safely, but the business aspect of being a dentist and owning a practice doesn’t receive quite as much attention. That’s not the fault of the schools considering how packed a dental student’s curriculum is, but Costes says that that’s where the independent, self-educating aspect becomes vital.

Now a successful dentist and business owner himself, Costes says that he’s not immune to the problems and mistakes that other dental professionals experience during their day-to-day operations. From patients who’d rather be anywhere instead of a dentist’s chair to Costes' making “more mistakes than pretty much anybody in private practice,” he now seeks to impart his expertise on other dental students. He’s spoken at over 20 dental schools by now, gearing his talks towards the business aspect of being a dentist and a practice owner and stressing the importance of communication and leadership, two qualities that he said can be strengthened through practice.

“So, if I was going to tell a young dental student the one thing that's going to make the biggest difference in whether or not they're going to be a success in their career, as far as a business owner, as far as a spouse, as far as a member of society, it's whether or not they're a good communicator and whether or not they have a knack to be a leader. Which I believe you could develop, just like any muscle.”

Photography by Maite Perez

Dr. Costes at the Voices of Dentistry Podcast Summit

Photography by Maite Perez

And for Costes’ peers who have their own practices, some of the best advice Costes offers is for them to structure their lives in the best way possible, be that by getting their personal lives in order or by surrounding themselves with the right team. From the time a patient walks through the door to the moment that patient stands up from the dentist’s chair, relying on support staff that help everything run smoothly is the fastest way to alleviate the stress of being an owner. But at the end of each business day, it’s still up to the owners not to slack on the hard-working qualities that make them successful.


“The fact that we are perfectionists, and the fact that we're detail-oriented, and we have Type A personalities, and we're super driven, that got us to where we are right now,” Costes says in closing. “But it's not necessarily that attitude and that drive and that inflexibility that's going to make us have a very well-rounded and happy life. We have to be smart enough to outsmart our tendencies of Type A and perfectionism and take a long look at the bigger picture and see how we could design our lives to be happier and more well-rounded.”