Great Expressions Dental Centers, the Michigan-based dental practice group, will add more practices in Ohio to its roster by buying Berning Dental, in Toledo.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed and both Great Expressions and its parent, private equity firm Audax Group, each did not respond to requests seeking comment.

Auxax does not have many holdings in the healthcare space; its only other current portfolio company is Colorado-based Denver Biomedical, a maker of medical devices for fluid management in the chest and abdomen.

However, the PE firm is poised to make plays in the healthcare space with an abundance of capital. It jointly controls HighPoint Capital with The Kraft Group, a finance company targeting lower middle market companies nationwide. Also, earlier this month, Audax commenced fundraising for its third mezzanine fund, Audax Mezzanine Fund III, with a $750 million target.

However, while the healthcare M&A space has been heating up over the course of this year, with mega-deals kick-starting activity in the sector to begin 2009, dealmakers project that businesses with dependence on federal reimbursement will have difficulty finding buyers.

Along with its Michigan and Ohio outlets, Great Expressions has a presence in Massachusetts, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and Connecticut.

Audax will continue to build on Great Expressions via M&A; at the PE firm’s Web site, it states it continues to seek add-ons. The PE firm bought Great Expressions in summer 2008 from founder Dr. Walter Knysz for terms undisclosed; in the time since that deal, the practice has added nearly 30% more outlets, or about 27 locations. At the time Audax bought Great Expressions, Audax co-chief executive Geoffrey Rehnert said the PE firm would look to execute “strategic add-on acquisitions.”