When a patient goes to the dentist, the first person they encounter is
usually never the doctor. The first person encountered is the
receptionist. After checking in with the front desk, there is still one
or two people that patient will interact with prior to meeting with the
actual dentist. This suggests that the staff plays an important role in
making sure the patient, as a customer, is satisfied with their
Again the first person encountered in the office is the receptionist. He
or she must be cheery and helpful in order to set-up a good, overall
experience for the patient. Answering questions promptly and in a
friendly manner is also a must. Answering the telephone and multitasking
clients and phone calls will also be an important role of this person.
Patients have little experience in matters involving insurance. The
receptionist will often need to act as the liaison between the insurance
company and the patient. Because of the complex nature of insurance
claims, this person will need to have good skills in expediting this
process, both for the sake of their office and their patient. Of course,
along with the insurance paperwork is the general organizing of the
The next person, after the receptionist, is usually a hygienist or
dental aide or nurse. In large offices the aide will usually be the
person greeting the patient, after the receptionist determines they have
successfully completed the paperwork and are ready for the appointment.
The aide will quickly review their chart, determine the reasons for the
visit and get them set-up in the proper exam room.
Next, in the case of a patient needing a cleaning, the hygienist will
greet them. When a patient goes in for a cleaning and a check-up at
their primary dental office, it is actually the hygienist that they
spend the most time with. This person will actually check the health and
nature of the teeth, as well as oversee any x-rays prior to the
detailed cleaning. The x-rays and cleaning alone can take 30 to 45
After the hygienist has established what needs to be done with the
patient, whether its just a cleaning or if there are some trouble spots
that need to be tended to, the dentist can drop in at any time. The
doctor or specialist may be third, fourth or even fifth person the
patient has interacted with at this point.
Thats why it is vital that a dentist has good staff surrounding him or
her. If a grumpy receptionist or aide greets a patient, they may make up
their mind about the office. An opinion can be formed by the
interaction with the hygienist alone, so it is in the best interest of
the dental office to have excellent staff.
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