Dental Receptionist Job Information

A dental receptionist's job is a lot more than sitting at a desk and occasionally answering phones. This role can be a whole series of jobs related to a dental practice.

The work environment

The real job of a dental receptionist is administrative, but the "simple" receptionist role alone has a range of duties:

  • Keeping appointment schedules
  • Dealing with inquiries
  • Prioritizing cases when there's an emergency, usually in consultation with the dentist
  • Acting as the contact point for the dental practice
  • Being the public face of the dental practice to clients
  • Communications and giving necessary advice to patients regarding scheduling of treatments

The administrative role is equally demanding:

  • Record keeping (This is a statutory requirement)
  • Accounts management where necessary
  • Ordering of materials and equipment
  • Petty cash where applicable
  • Stores and organization of office space and materials
  • Correspondence
  • Issuing of bills
  • Tracking information
  • Operation of computer systems and databases
  • Liaising with dental services like dental nurses, dental labs and dental hygienists

The administrative part of the dental receptionist's job is very much an organizational role. This work allows the dentist to avoid distractions, and greatly reduces the amount of time which has to be devoted to these very necessary functions. Dentists also rely on many of these function as essential parts of their professional operations. Record keeping, for example has to be done meticulously, not only for statutory reasons, but because the dental records form a vital part of the dentist's work, detailing often complex dental situations.

Dental practices also vary considerably. General dental practices are comparatively complex business operations. Specialists may require a lot of additional duties of their administrative staff, because of the additional technical and medical aspects of their work. In a dental clinic, the "receptionist" invariably doubles as an administrator, often on a large scale with a very high, and equally technical, workload.

Salaries: Median to low, averaging approximately $12 an hour. (Varies with qualifications, see below.)

Hours: Business or clinic hours. Some dental hospitals are open 24 hours.


The basic skill sets for dental receptionists are:

  • Administrative skills
  • Business skills
  • Communications skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Client relationship skills

Each skill set integrates with the needs of the dental practice. The requirements for levels of qualification, training and experience vary from low to fully qualified business and administrative skills.

The career environment

The skills requirements are all good indicators of possible career paths for dental receptionists. Each skill set, in combination with experience in dental practices, is a potential career motif. Administrative and business skills can both lead to advanced positions in management and administration of large dental clinics, hospitals, and private practices.

These higher positions are good in terms of career progression into the health care industry generally, in many cases. Experience in the health care sector is a primary requirement for higher positions, particularly in management and administration, where the technical issues in health care are very closely linked to the competencies required for higher roles.

The organizational skills involved in dental practices are good training for higher positions in the basic receptionist/administrator role, too, and can lead to higher paying jobs with large practices looking for experienced staff with good references. At higher levels, this practical experience also translates into training roles for supervisors and managers.