What Is a Dentist Office?

A dental office is a business establishment that handles both clinical and clerical concerns. In a large practice, a dental office may include multiple dentists, dental hygienists, and front desk staff.

Most dental offices have a reception area, which resembles a lounge and contains couches with entertainment options. Patient records are also located here.
Reception area

The reception area is the first place patients encounter in a dental clinic. It is important that it is inviting and comfortable. It is also important to provide amenities to help patients pass the time while waiting for their appointment. This can include books, magazines, and toys for children.

Having attractive wall decorations and decor is also helpful. Choosing soft colors will create a calming environment for patients. It is also important to use art work that does not clash with the walls. A good way to decorate the reception area is by putting up artwork that depicts natural landscapes and flowers. According to a study published by the College of Nursing and Health at Drexel University, merely observing such paintings can reduce cortisol levels in an individual.

Make sure to keep a variety of magazines on hand, including lifestyle and news publications. This will help ease the minds of patients who are nervous about their upcoming appointment.
Treatment area

The treatment area, also known as the dental operatory, is where all clinical procedures take place in a dentist office. This room is equipped with a dental chair, lighting equipment, and devices used to assist the dentist during procedures. The equipment in the treatment area must be properly maintained to ensure safety and cleanliness.

Most DSOs offer a variety of services that can help dentists focus on providing quality care to patients. These services include:

Many dental offices use nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” to sedate their patients during treatment. This form of sedation is safe for most people and is a great alternative to IV, oral, or general anesthesia.

The best way to minimize the risk of infection is to wash your hands after each visit to a dentist. Also, avoid touching surfaces that may have been touched by other people. You should also avoid contaminated tools, which can lead to illness and infection.
Patient records area

Regardless of who documents information in the dental chart, it is the dentist’s responsibility to document accurately the procedures performed. It is also important to keep in mind that federal protections and patient rights dictate the release of record components.

All clinical procedures should take place in the treatment area (Fig. 32-4). This space should be equipped with dental instruments, a sink, a chair, a desk, a treatment coordinator station and an area to store supplies, tools and materials.

It is essential to have a designated area for patient records, whether electronic or in paper charts. Most offices use a color coded system for patients’ files, which makes it easier to locate and retrieve the file. Offices that use paper files often apply a year aging label to the tabs, which is useful when reviewing active records. Also, it is a good practice to separate financial information from the medical records. Doing so will avoid confusion when transferring the chart to another dental professional.
Laboratory fees

Lab fees are a significant cost to dental practices. They are needed to create crowns, retainers, bridges and other gear that cannot be created in the practice due to space constraints, specialized equipment and personnel. These costs can account for up to 80 percent of total overhead expenses in a typical dental practice.

Many dentists use fee guides to determine what they should charge for particular procedures. The fee guides usually list a range of suggested fees and provide instructions that describe how the dentist should determine a customized fee for his or her own practice based on circumstances applicable to that specific location.

Overhead costs are a fact of life in the world of dentistry and continue to rise. They are a necessary expense of operating any business and must be factored into the ultimate fee charged to patients. One digital x-ray sensor alone can cost over $10,000. In addition, many practices have loaned out money to purchase specialized equipment like 3D printers which can reduce overall overhead by producing in-office the parts and products required for specific cases.

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