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Dental Office Procedures for Dental Assisting Exam Study Guide

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Updated on Jun 23, 2011

Practice problems for this study guide can be found at:

Dental Office Procedures for Dental Assisting Exam Practice Problems

In order for the dental practice to run efficiently, be productive, and make a profit, the dental assistant must understand dental practice management. Dentists are trained in dental school to diagnose dental diseases and problems, and to treat the patient. Dentists do not have as much training in practice management, which is why the business assistant or office manager becomes a vital member of the dental team. It is essential to maintain patient records, process business transactions, and communicate with the patients, staff, dentist, and the community.

One of the main reasons for good communication is patient retention. Patients seldom have cause to leave one dental practice for another because of unskilled or incompetent dentistry; however, they do leave if there was miscommunication with the dentist or the staff over errors on their statement or insurance submission, or if they feel that the dental staff did not clearly explain their treatment plan. This is why leadership and communication is essential in dental practice management.

Concepts and Skills

In this article, the questions will be based on the many characteristics, functions, and tasks of the dental practice business assistant. Dental office procedures consist of eight main topics:

  • Effective Leadership Skills
  • Working with Dental Office Documents
  • Appointment Management
  • Continuing Care/Recall Management
  • Accounts Receivable Management
  • Accounts Payable Management
  • Dental Insurance Management
  • Supplies/Inventory

Effective Leadership Skills

To be an effective leader one must be enthusiastic, be a team member, accept culturally diverse people, recognize others’ needs, be an effective listener and communicator, have self-confidence, be respectful, be organized and have time management skills, and be a genuine person.

Communication Skills

Communication is the process of understanding and being understood. There are many barriers to good communication, such as hearing but not listening, prejudging a person, and being preoccupied with your own ideas and thoughts so that you do not listen to the other person’s words.

Dental assistants must develop their communication skills to know how to handle unusual requests. For example, if a new patient calls asking the price to restore his or her complete mouth, the business assistant should ask the patient to come in for an exam and consultation. There are too many variables and unknowns, such as tooth surfaces involved, extent of decay, and periodontal conditions, to give out such information over the phone.

Part of communicating is ensuring that everyone is on the same page, which is why it is essential that every dental office have a personnel manual outlining office staff policies and benefits, along with the rules of the office for employees. All new employees should be given a copy of the company manual and should study it very carefully.

Telephone Skills

Ninety percent of all patients are introduced to a dental practice beginning with a telephone call to the office. Therefore, it is vital that the business assistant be knowledgeable in all aspects of dentistry, have excellent verbal skills, be enthusiastic, make the patient feel welcome to the office, and make the patient want to return.

Some telephone features in the dental practice include PC-linked phone systems, cellular phones, handsfree telephone systems, voicemail, call holding, caller identification, conference calling, speed dialing, and musicon- hold.

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