A dental office is an establishment wherein the dentists conducts his/her practice clubbed with accounting and financial services.
This establishment is a brick and mortar setup that is independently owned by the practicing dentist.
In a nutshell, the business dealings and practice pertaining to the field of dentistry is conducted from the dental office. Money is generated via the dental practice and accounts are maintained. Discounted deals as well as finance options are also provided here.
Here are some of the vital facts pertaining to dental offices that you need to know:
Dental Office Article Contents:
1) What is a Dental Office?
2) What is a Dental Clinic?
3) What all Services are Offered by a Dental Clinic?
4) How is a Dental Office Different from a Dental Clinic?
5) What all Services are offered by a Dental Office?
6) What Skills does a Dentist Require to Set-up a Dental Office?
7) Do You Need to Hire a Business Manager for Your Dental Clinic?
8) Top 10 Dental Office Management Tips to Grow Your Business
What is a Dental Office?
A dental office is a brick and mortar set-up that is established and governed by the practicing dentist. This office has no relation with a hospital and is run in an independent manner.
So over here, the entire governance of the dental office is taken care of by an individual and not an organization. The financial aspects as well as the account related aspects of the office are also handled by the dentist individually.
What all is Present in a Dental office?
A dental office is a place wherein dentistry related procedures are diligently followed. As I have mentioned above, the dental office is run by an individual. So the involvement of an organization or a chain of hospitals is absent.
When you step inside a dental office, here are the following things that you shall usually find inside the premises:
The Sit-Out Area for Patients:
The moment a patient enters a dental office, he/she is usually greeted with a small area that is fortified with lounge chairs. It could be basic chairs with a center table filled with magazines.
The design of this area can be as per the taste of the dentist yet, it serves the same purpose – relaxation. This is where the patient sits and chills out before entering the doctor’s cabin. It is a place to chill and enquire (with the assistance of the receptionist present in the room).
Your History is Kept Intact:
As a patient, your records are kept intact in a dental office. So, every minor to major detail pertaining to your medical history is maintained here.
With the help of these records, the dentist can prescribe the best possible medication. These details help the dentist deliver apt treatment for the patient. The details could be either digital or written with the aid of a pen and paper.
The Basic Equipment:
A dental office may be different from a clinic yet, the procedure followed in both these set-ups is similar. So, an office shall contain machines and tools necessary for carrying out dental procedures.
Some of these include a chair made especially for dentists. Apart from this, machines for taking x-ray, irrigation, laser and other necessary oral procedures, is also kept within the office.
Insurance Claims & Fee Mechanism:
Last and final, the office that is run by a dentist has to have insurance delivering capabilities. Simply put, if a patient walks into the office with dental insurance then, the official staff present in the office should be able to provide justice to the claimant.
In certain cases, the dental office is a large organization that is run via the aid of several junior dentist and managerial staff. Such large dental offices offer financial support to patients that cannot afford the treatment.
The financial help is with special regards to offering insurance on dental services. Even EMI options are offered. This helps the patient take the desired dental treatment without getting financially burdened in the act.
What is a Dental Clinic?
A dental clinic is a place wherein all dental related procedures are performed. Dental clinics are run by a hospital, educational institute or other large organizations. They have a team of dental specialists that cater to your oral care needs.
Dental clinics too have the ability to insure the patient against dental procedures. Moreover, they also provide financial services that are linked to your dental procedures.
As compared to dental offices, dental clinics are less expensive in nature. So, these clinics are usually based out of hospitals or educational institutes. Dental hygienists, specialists, assistants and surgeons comprise of a dental clinic.
What all Services are Offered by a Dental Clinic?
There is a huge list of services offered by dental clinics. While I cannot mention all of these in this article, here is a list of the most important ones:
This is an invasive procedure wherein dental prosthesis is performed. While undergoing dental implants, the dentist restructures the jaw and the tooth using surgical procedures.
The bridge, the crown as well as the denture is involved in dental implant procedures. The most common procedure is replacing the roots of the original teeth. Damaged roots are either fixed or replaced to match the original ones.
This is a procedure wherein the facial bones, the tooth structure and the positioning of the jaw are witnessed in great detail. In an x-ray, ionized radiations are dispatched by the machine. These are either absorbed by the solid object or they merely pass through.
When they pass through, nothing is visible. When they are absorbed, they reveal the hidden nature of your tooth, gum, facial bones and jaw placements.
In adults, a dental X-Ray reveals decay of tooth/fillings, abscesses, bone loss, position of the teeth etc. In children, a dental x-ray reveals tooth decay, appearance of wisdom tooth, impacted teeth and space of gums to encompass emerging tooth.
Another service offered by dental clinic is pediatric dentistry. Over here, a trained dentist looks after the tooth and gums of infants. This dentist is trained to look into the oral cavity of teenage children as well. So, they specialize in kids only.
In this service, a tooth or gum that is damaged by bacterial infection is rectified. The damage is done to the tooth enamel and it has to be rectified. The cavity thus created can damage your tooth and even the gum.
Tooth decay is avoided by this procedure (dental restoration).
Fillings are either composite, amalgam or made from resin. As far as the crown of the tooth is concerned then, they are made from porcelain, metals or stainless steel.
This is yet another dental service provided in a dental office. These services are specialized in nature and only highly qualified dentists such as endodontics can handle them.
Only 2.9% of all dentists qualify to become endodontics. They have 2 years of additional educational qualification as compared to a regular dentist. These specialists offer services that are related to your tooth interiors (such as root canal treatment, dental implants, surgeries to repair damaged tooth/gums etc).
Yet another service offered in dental clinics is of dentures. A prosthodontist handles this aspect of dentistry. The dentists deal in crowns, TMJ disorders, TMD disorders, dental implants and placing bridges.
Rheumatology Services for Teeth:
Rheumatology is yet another service that is offered by a dental clinic. Rheumatologists enable you to correct various musculoskeletal conditions. They also help you steer clear of autoimmune diseases. Stiffness in joints and muscles are also corrected via the aid of this specialist.
Operations of the Tooth & Gum Area:
Yet another facility that you can avail at a dental clinic is reconstructive surgical procedures. These allow you to get your tooth, gum and jaw reconstructed via surgical procedures.
This procedure is performed by a specialist dental surgeon. It covers both maxillofacial as well as oral surgery. The surgical procedure could be owing to an accident/trauma or a natural defect.
Orthodontics Specialty Services:
This is yet another service offered by dental clinics. These dental specialists help you to restructure your jaw and teeth that are positioned in an incorrect manner.
In simpler words, if your teeth are aligned incorrectly, orthodontics help correct this malfunctioning. Dentofacial orthopaedics enables you to enjoy a younger looking and flawless denture.
Correction of the Bridge as well as the Crown:
The corrective procedure for damaged/imbalanced crown and bridges are also conducted at a dental clinic. These bridges or crowns (whichever of the two needs to be corrected) are sealed to the gum using cement.
So, you cannot remove these and clean them as per your discretion. Crowns and bridges can only be replaced or removed with the aid of a trained & certified dentist.
What are the Advantages of Visiting a Dental Clinic?
>>> The biggest advantage of paying a visit to a dental clinic is its low cost factor. You would definitely save money here as compared to stepping inside a dental office.
>>> Charity is available at most dental clinics. In case you do not have the right amount of funds in place, the dentist may help lower your cost (for the chosen treatment).
>>> You do not need to step into another dental clinic to get complete treatment. Everything is readily available under a single building (I am referring to dental services).
>>> When you get everything treated under a single building, you end up saving time. So, no more traveling to various dental clinics as all your oral issues shall be resolved under one roof.
>>> As compared to dental offices, dental clinics are usually open 7 days a week. You also have the ease of scheduling an appointment at your chosen hour. Patients however prefer getting their teeth and gums treated at home naturally.
What are the Disadvantages of Visiting a Dental Clinic?
>>> The biggest drawback is not being able to get complete treatment by a preferred dentist. If the procedure is complicated, you may have to seek help from another specialist at the same clinic. This may not be a suitable option for some.
>>> A dental clinic is run by a team of specialists. This implies that there is lack of personal touch in the services. You may get ‘A’ dentist today and dentist ‘B’, a week later.
>>> The staff in a dental clinic is often rotational. So, you may not find your preferred dentist when you step in for the next visit.
How is a Dental Office Different from a Dental Clinic?
While they do seem like two sides of the same coin, in reality, dental offices and dental clinics are poles apart. This is with regards to their structure as well as their functionality.
Well, here is how both differ from one another:
The Functionality Aspect:
In a dental clinic, all the procedures pertaining to your dental well-being are maintained. The clinic is supposed to be a part of a dental office. So, a clinic is a sub-set of an office.
In a dental office, insurance claims and financial records are also maintained. The record of the patient is also maintained by the dental office.
Individual Vs Organization:
The dental office is an independently run clinic. While it may have a team of specialists, it is managed by an independent individual. On the contrary, the dental office is managed by a larger organization (such as a hospital or an educational institute).
The Level of Service:
If you want to fix your tooth ache or get a regular check-up, head to a dental clinic. Simply put, if you want to fix your jaw or gums that have been annihilated by bacterial invasion, you need to head to a dental clinic.
Ironically, cosmetic treatments for appearing good are usually performed at a dental office. With that being said, dental offices also perform almost all the relevant dental treatments offered in a clinic.
The Working Hours & Waiting Time:
Dental offices have a fixed time table. So, the working hours are well defined. In case you have an emergency situation that requires immediate assistance then, you need to pay a visit to a dental clinic.
At the same time, the waiting time at a dental office is bare minimal. There is a dedicated reception area that helps you kill time pleasantly in case more patients are lined up before you.
A dental clinic lacks such an organized waiting area thereby making it an unpleasant place to wait for your turn.
Money is What Matters Here:
When the question revolves around cost then, a dental office is definitely an expensive choice. A dental clinic on the other hand offers reasonable pricing structure.
Dental offices have a pre-determined fee structure for all its dental procedures. Discounts are usually not offered. The equipment at the dental office is of very high standard.
Dental clinics may lack the latest equipment. So, they are cost effective and even subsidized (government clinics are a classic example of the same).
The Ownership Factor:
A dental clinic has several dentists working under one roof. This in turn implies that they are on a salary and working under an organization. A board of directors run a dental clinic.
A dental office is run by an individual dentist. He or she has the authority to take decisions pertaining to the functioning of the clinic. There is no management involved in running a dental office.
What all Services are offered by a Dental Office?
As I have already mentioned above, a dental office is much more than just a clinic. It offers financial services and also handles patient records. Moreover, it is run by an individual (in most cases) and is never governed by an organization.
Here are the following services that you can hope to avail while paying a visit to the dental office:
>>> You have access to a trained dentist that specializes in various aspects of dentistry.
>>> When you enter the dental office, you have the added advantage of getting treated by a single individual. You do not have to rely on other specialists (as is the case in a dental clinic).
>>> Besides personal touch, you also have complete records being maintained by the accounts department present in the official premises.
>>> The state of art machines and equipment that a dental office has is incomparable in nature. A clinic usually lacks the latest dental machines.
>>> There is minimal waiting time. Even if you do have to wait, a dedicated reception area caters to all your needs. So, waiting for your appointment with the dentist at the office is a breezy task.
>>> As everything is managed by an individual, you do not have to seek permissions from multiple dentists to get the job done. The entire process is streamlined.
>>> While the cost of getting treated at a dental office is high, the facilities provided here do compensate for the high cost.
What Skills does a Dentist Require to Set-up a Dental Office?
Merely getting a degree and starting practice is not everything that a dentist needs to run a profitable business. You need to have a specialized set of skills to run a dental office. This is besides your regular medical qualification.
Let us discuss these skill-sets in brief:
>>> First and foremost, you need to establish a plan of action. This is a blueprint as to how you shall establish the dental office and run it successfully.
>>> The second step is to gather vital details that shall determine what all your business requires to flourish. These details could be collected via patient surveys or the internet.
>>> You need to establish a small office within your premises that handles the financial aspects of your business. It can be termed as the accounts department.
>>> The next step is to make a list of equipment suppliers. You need to tally the cost per piece of machinery manufactured by a supplier. Choose the supplier that is giving you the best piece of dental equipment at a competitive price.
>>> Gone are the days wherein you could spread the word about your dental office via meeting people in person. Nowadays you need to establish an online presence of your business. For this very reason, you need to make use of social media channels to popularize your dental business.
>>> You need to offer free consultation to patients to encourage repeat customers. This also helps reduce patients opting for another clinic.
>>> A receptionist that is apt at accounting should always be present in your dental office. He/she shall cater to the patients’ needs and also manage their records.
Do You Need to Hire a Business Manager for Your Dental Clinic?
In my personal opinion, you do need to ensure that your dental office is functioning flawlessly. A vital aspect for this is flawless finances. To ensure that your accounts book is hale and hearty, you need a managerial assistant.
Here is how a financial assistant can help your dental office:
>>> The accounts manager shall analyze whether patients are paying their bills on time or not. If not then, measures to extract the money are put in place.
>>> If patients are not coming back after a successful treatment then, the financial manager shall assess the cause. If the cost of treatment is too high then, measures need to be taken to reduce the cost.
>>> The location of the dental office is also to be considered here. If it is located in a busy marketplace then, all is good. If it is located in a scheduled place then, seek a better location for the same.
>>> If your vendors are offering their services (such as equipment and machinery) at a high cost then, the finance manager shall negotiate the rates. He/she may even seek out other (more profitable) vendors.
>>> Total number of patient visits in the current month as compared to previous months is tallied by the business manager. This helps chalk out an action plan to attract more patients in the current and coming months.
>>> A reducing dental business needs to be tackled with via aggressive online and offline marketing. Perhaps the receptionist may need to be changed to attract more patients.
>>> Training and investing in the latest technology is imperative for any dental office to succeed. A business manager assigned for the job shall suggest training sessions to both the staff as well as the dentist. This helps the dental business grow.
Top 10 Dental Office Management Tips to Grow Your Business
Get in Touch with the Latest:
As a dentist running a dental office, you need to keep yourself ‘up to date’ with the latest best practices. For this, you need to encourage your staff to attend dental office courses.
These courses have been designed by specialists in the field of management. They enable you to develop the skills necessary for transforming your simple dental office into a profitable business.
Track The Progress or Downfall:
In order to make money from your dental business, you need to keep a track of where you are going right and where you need to improve. In simpler words, keep a list of the points that determine the true worth of your business.
Make sure that you are keeping a close watch on these pointers. Any deviations from these pointers denote that your business is suffering. This helps you manage your business optimally.
Never be a Miser with Your Employees:
While running a dental office, you need to maintain a staff of excellent caliber. Never ignore your employees and always be ready to ‘go the extra mile’ for their benefit.
Ensure to update your employees on the business best practices. Provide a salary raise wherever applicable and offer benefits to your employees.
When you invest in your employees, your staff shall be up to date. Increased knowledge shall ensure that your staff is well versed to handle adverse situations with utmost ease.
Highlight Your Day to Day Functioning:
The daily routine in your office needs to be established. This includes the time of reporting, food breaks, the usage of media devises, the dress to be worn, the manner in which patient reports are to be handled etc.
When your day to day activities have been highlighted, the chances of conflicts among employees are minimized. Make sure that you have the routine pinned to the wall cupboard for every employee to read.
Assign Different Tasks to Different Employees:
In order to perform in the most suitable manner, you need to assign official tasks to your team. Never hesitate to share your task with a capable employee.
Doing so gives you ample time to recover, recoup and focus on your core job (of being a dental specialist). It also helps you focus on improving your business & increasing your profit margin.
Create Job Description for Individual Employees:
In case you have a staff of 10 professionals working at your office then, each of these employees needs to have their tasks well defined.
This delegation of responsibility may change from time to time. Update your employee on the same and ensure that you are explaining them their job profile accurately.
Dispatch a written text explaining the responsibility of each employee. You may also have a one-on-one meeting with each of your employees to clarify any doubts that they may be having on their job profile.
Buy the Latest Medical Equipment:
You need to have state of art machinery in your dental office. At the same time, your reception area too needs to be swanky and comforting for the patients.
When you are in sync with modern technology, your business gets a direct boost. This is owing to the confidence your place instills in the minds of your patients.
Employee Meetings need to be Regularized:
In order to optimize the functioning of your dental office, you need to brief your team. For this very purpose, frequent meetings with the staff are of vital importance.
You may brief your staff every day for a short 5 minute session or hold an hour long meeting once every week. The idea here is to connect with your employees and brief them about the latest developments in this field.
Teach Your Staff How to Attract Clients:
While dentistry is a noble method to help men, women and children suffering from poor oral health to obtain a cure from their ailments, it is also a means of earning a livelihood (for the practicing dentist and his/her staff).
So, in order to make more money from this profession, the dentist needs to teach his/her staff the art of selling their services. When your patients buy your offer, only then do they pay you to get themselves treated at your dental office.
Keep Your Patients Happy:
Your dental office can be considered successful only when you have repeat customers. For this, you need to keep your patients happy. So, listen to their issues and resolve them as soon as possible.
The dentist can also offer discounts for repeat customers. In fact, you can easily hope to double your profits when your regular customers refer more patients to your dental office.
In order to survive in this highly competitive world of professional dentistry, you need to be a step ahead of your competition. I (LeanAndFit review staff) feel this is easier said than done.
Nonetheless, if you (as a professional dentist) follow the above mentioned steps, your business can flourish even in adverse conditions. In case you run your dental office in a haphazard manner then, you may not be able to turn your profession into a lucrative business.
For Dental Patients:
For patients seeking dental treatment, getting to know the difference between a clinic and an office is vital. Hopefully, this article has clarified this confusion. Now, you can choose whether to treat your dental issues by paying a visit to a dental clinic or a dental office.