Managing a dental office requires a skilled and dedicated team of professionals to ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care and that the practice runs smoothly.
There are more than 201,927 dentists across the United States, as per the latest available data by the Kaiser Family Foundation, across specializations. In such an industry with so much competition, a dentist will need a team to help them provide patient satisfaction and retain business.
A successful dental practice requires a variety of staff, including dentists, hygienists, assistants, and front office personnel. Each team member has a specific role and responsibilities that are essential to the overall operation of the practice. They work together to ensure that patients are satisfied with their experience at the practice.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the key staff members needed to manage a dental office, their roles and responsibilities, and how they work together to provide excellent patient care and ensure the practice’s success.
1. Front Desk Receptionist
The front office receptionist is often the first point of contact for patients and can play a vital role in creating a positive patient experience and maintaining a smooth flow of operations in the dental office. They may perform a variety of tasks, such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, greeting patients, and handling patient registration and check-in.
In smaller offices, where there’s no designated billing specialist or office manager, the receptionist is engaged in collecting payments as well as managing insurance billing and claims. This may result in your receptionist overloading, more wait time for your patients, and delays in billing-related tasks.
In such a scenario, opting for a virtual solution to perform automated tasks like answering routine calls could help ensure the receptionist is able to prioritize their tasks as per their schedule. As a dentist planning to upgrade the customer experience for your practice, you locate an answering service for dental offices by browsing reliable online resources which provide you with more information on the same.
Your receptionist will thus be free to perform more value-added tasks like coordinating the schedules of the dental staff, including the dentist and hygienists, and ensuring that there is enough coverage for all patients. They can also focus on managing patient relationships, handling complaints, and resolving issues that may arise.
2. Office Manager
For a larger practice, your receptionist may be unable to manage independently. An office manager can help manage a rapidly growing practice and free up the receptionist’s bandwidth to perform the critical task of patient communications.
An office manager in a dentist’s office plays a critical role in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the practice. They are responsible for managing the office’s administrative, financial and clinical aspects.
Some of the specific responsibilities of an office manager in a dentist’s office may include the ones mentioned below.
- Hiring, training, and supervising staff, including receptionists, dental assistants, and hygienists.
- Managing the financial aspects of the practice, including budgeting, billing, and collections. They ensure that the practice is financially stable and that all financial records are accurate and up-to-date.
- An office manager is responsible for ensuring that the practice is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, such as HIPAA, OSHA, and state dental board rules.
- An office manager may also be responsible for promoting the practice and attracting new patients through marketing efforts.
An office manager in a dentist’s office acts as the glue that holds everything together. They are responsible for making sure that the practice runs smoothly and efficiently and that patients are satisfied with their experience.
3. Dental Assistant
A dental assistant maintains instruments in a sterilized state, takes X-rays of teeth and gums, and assists the dentist during procedures.
They also may perform administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments and maintaining patient records. The specific duties and responsibilities of a dental assistant may vary depending on the dental office and state regulations.
While hiring a dental assistant, it is important you focus on their technical skills and know-how, as they will be responsible for maintaining all the equipment in your practice.
4. Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist is a licensed oral healthcare professional who works under the supervision of a dentist to provide preventive and therapeutic care to patients. In a dental office, a dental hygienist typically performs tasks such as cleaning teeth, taking X-rays, and educating patients about oral hygiene.
The role of a dental hygienist becomes even more relevant in a scenario where even gum health becomes significant, with more than 70% of American adults above the age of 75 suffering from periodontal diseases, according to facts reported by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another alarming fact in the same report is that 47% of adults above 30 years also have periodontal disease or gum inflammation. Thus, raising awareness of patients regarding oral hygiene is an important part of the dental hygienist’s job.
They also may be responsible for charting the patient’s oral condition and providing treatment such as fluoride and sealant application and periodontal therapy.
Depending on the state and the office, a dental hygienist may also have expanded duties and responsibilities, such as administering local anesthesia, suture removal, and performing some restorative procedures under the general supervision of a dentist.
In the United States, a dentist retires at the age of 68 to 69 years, as per estimates by the American Dental Association. Once you reach an advanced age and your practice booms, it is important to hire a team to ensure you can focus on the important stuff, like attending to your patients. As your practice increases in size and revenue, you need to plan and strategize like an expanding business and scale up your team size accordingly.