Dental Staffing

Guidelines for the Dental Office Manager


The primary function of a Dental Office Manager is to oversee all operations of the Dental Practice. To ensure all staff work to become more efficient, productive, and competent, thus helping to create a profitable practice that delivers excellent service to patients.

Dental Office Managers must maintain a high level of competence and integrity that is not only witnessed, but mirrored by the entire Dental Team. The Office Manager, along with the Dental Practice Owner, sets the bar for competence and integrity. If employees find themselves working for someone whose competence and integrity is lower than their own, they will eventually jump ship. How can they work for someone they don’t respect?

Dental Office Manager Mission:

  1. To help create an efficient and profitable practice that is well known in the community for excellent service to its patients.
  2. To help create a harmonious work environment.
  3. To ensure that quality patient care guides all decision-making.

Two critical systems:

These two systems are critical to keep a practice from running into trouble. An office manager needs to be aware of these and adept at using them.

  1. The office manager needs to establish and maintain a monthly budget to exercise control over the operating expenses, such as supplies, equipment, payroll, and more. The term “budget” is often misconstrued to mean “can’t spend money.” According to the Oxford Concise English Dictionary, budget means, “The amount of money needed or available. Estimate of revenue or income and expenditure made by a company, family, private individual, etc.”
  2. The office manager needs to create job description manuals that are customized for every position in the practice. The purpose of this is to provide written procedures that are specific to each position in the office. Having written policies and procedures gives an office manager an effective means of training and correcting staff by referring to established protocols that have been approved by the owner.

It is not efficient to correct the behavior of an employee without having a written policy or procedure to provide reference and direction. Without that piece of paper, it can become very tense and often results in bad morale. This is one of the primary reasons owners and office managers seldom confront and deal with employees until they’ve reached the point of termination.

Many good and capable staff have quit or been released from a Dental Practice unnecessarily. The reverse is also true—negative and nonproductive staff members have remained when they should have been released from their position. To save everyone headaches, get your “how to” policies in writing and keep them up to date.

Code of conduct:

People who work together require guidelines. The purpose of such guidelines is to improve staff relationships and enhance production. Guidelines should be enforced in a constructive manner. It is important to clearly define and make these guidelines available in writing so the Dental Team can become familiar with what is expected. As a result, disciplinary action becomes predictable and not based on opinions or bias.

Violation of acceptable conduct may result in a verbal or written warning and possible discharge. To arrive at the proper action, consider the seriousness of the violation, the past record of the employee, the circumstances surrounding the matter, and the consequences that resulted from the violation.

Although it’s impossible to identify every violation in a code of conduct, here is a partial list of violations that may result in warnings or discharge:

  1. Ineffective use of work time
  2. Failure to maintain effective working relationships with fellow employees, management, and patients
  3. Gossiping
  4. Divulging confidential information
  5. Negligence or deliberate inattention to patient care
  6. Frequent and unexcused absence or tardiness
  7. Creating a disturbance in the workplace
  8. Reporting to work in an unfit condition
  9. Theft

Keep the Doctor focused

The Dental Practice Owner should focus on treating the patients and providing the best possible care. The office manager should stay focused on management of the systems, under the guidance of the Practice Owner.

Office manager daily checklist:

1.      Morning Huddle:

  • Monthly production to date
  • Production for the day
  • Production status going forward
  • Short call list in case of cancellations

2.      Review the schedule and patient charts.

  • Identify patients where possible treatment/production goals can be increased
  • Start seeing patients on time, while creating extra production in coordination with the staff.
  • Meet with the scheduling coordinator.
  • Find out the number of new patients are scheduled and how production booked for the next day and the next two weeks. Plan/coordinate where necessary.

3.      Review the accounts receivable with the accounts manager. Ensure that past due accounts are followed up on.

4.      Review with Insurance and treatment coordinators to review and any past due insurance and accounts payable accounts.

5.      Determine any past due reviews, schedule where necessary

6.      Refer staff to written procedures when asked about something already covered in the policy or procedures.

Office Manager’s weekly checklist

1.   Make sure all Administrative  Staff have all necessary information/tools to fully perform duties

2.   Meet with the owner about week.

  • Coordinate activities regarding patients and the upcoming week. and
  • Validate the office production, especially if a new level was reached that week.

3. At the end of the week, review the bills. This report should have:

  • A list of all vendors with invoices due
  • A list of any late accounts payable
  • Collection total and in the bank each week
  • Budget amount indicated for the week
  • Handle accounts payable and savings deposits by end of work week.

4.  Conduct monthly staff meeting. Staff Members should:             

  • Report on any production issues and the highlights of their week.
  • Staff should be briefed on any new developments and new policies discussed as needed.
  • Staff should be invited to share problems with solutions and any success stories from patients
  • Staff should be validated for jobs well done.
  • Report any needed coordination between the Administration and Clinical Teams should be discussed.
  • Needed training such as role playing should be conducted.
  • Team goals should be set for the next week and month.
  • An upbeat acknowledgement or instructions should end the meeting.

5.  Review your written plans. Check off any things to do that were completed that week and mark the ones to be completed in the upcoming week. Acknowledge any incomplete projects and implement plans to complete, including any delegation needed.

6.  Office Manager Apprenticeship checklist. When moving into the position of a Dental Practice:
Manager, it’s important to remember the role certainly has its challenges. The Dental Practice Owner determines the time limit for the apprenticeship checklist to be mastered. The office manager should meet a minimum of once a week to review progress on the checklist. The practice owner should refer the office manager to the appropriate policies for any needed review or added information relating to the position.

  • Communicates well with Practice Owner, Dental Team, and patients Competently runs the morning huddles.
  • Appears to have gained respect of the Dental Team.
  • Competently interviews and hires staff.
  • Provides each employee with necessary training tools.
  • Knows how to competently performs reviews with Dental Staff.
  • Knows how to step into clinical role if necessary.
  • Works closely with the assistants and receptionist to encourage all patients to complete their treatment plans.
  • Sets a good example for other staff.
  • Contributes to an upbeat and harmonious Dental Practice through his or her actions and attitude.
  • Keeps patients informed of the practice’s internal referral program and encourages patients to refer family and friends.
  • Adheres to the policies and procedures of the Office Manual.
  • Maintains a professional appearance.
  • Is competent with the office’s practice management software and can train others.
  • Refers others to appropriate company policies as opposed to giving verbal opinions on policy and procedures.
  • Has proven ability to insure prompt payment of accounts receivable and insurance claims.
  • Has a displayed positive ability to manage upset patients.
  • Provides the owner with an up-to-date summary of the accounts payable and accounts receivable each week.
  • Maintains budget of expenses and works to maintain an excellent profit for the practice.

For more information read our articles:

  1. Dental Job Descriptions: Is Your Office Manual Up to Date?
  2. A Great Reminder for the Modern Dental Office Manager
  3. Are You Ready to Do the Job of a Dental Office Manager?
  4. 5 Must-Have Qualities of a Dental Office Appointment Scheduler
  5. Dentists! Great Schedulers of Dental Treatment Reduce Stress and increase Productivity
  6. High Five to the Dental Administrative Team: The Gatekeepers
  7. Are You Ready to do the Job of a Dental Office Manager?
  8. The Dental Office Manager’s Salary: You Get What You Pay For
  9. The Magnificent Dental Administration Team
  10. What It Takes to Acquire a Dental Administrative Position
  11. Why Does Every Dental Practice Need a Great Dental Office Manager?


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To handle yourself, use your head;
to handle others, use your heart.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt