Dental Talent – A Quick Guide on How to Staff Your Dental Practice Reopening

Reopening your dental practice may seem as simple as picking up where you left off before the lockdowns. The truth of the matter is that it isn’t as straightforward as this.

It pays to remember that the present times are far from normal. First, there are strict health and safety measures you must implement to keep your patients, your staff and yourself safe. Aside from this, you must also modify the way you accommodate patients to serve them as efficiently and safely as possible.

It’s also worth mentioning that the volume of patients you will serve during the first months of your reopening will naturally be lower than usual. For all of these reasons, you must carefully plan your staffing.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself When Determining Staffing Needs

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Planning for your reopening staffing can be quite overwhelming, especially if you do not know where or how to begin. To help you get started on the right track, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need the same number of staff as before?
  • Are there any roles that have shifted? How did they change?
  • Are our job descriptions still adequate, or should new responsibilities be added to them?
  • Are there any tasks that can be automated?

These are just some of the many questions that will help you reevaluate your human resource.

To further aid you in right-staffing your practice, here are some tips on bringing back the following personnel:

1. Front Office Staff

If you expect to accommodate less than 20 patients a day, bringing back one front office staff will be sufficient. To increase their efficiency in an eight-hour workday, you can let them work on nonpatient tasks for 240 minutes and patient tasks for the remaining 240.

However, if your daily number of patients start to increase, you may need to bring in a second employee.

Giving them correlating tasks is a great way to help them work efficiently. For example, you may let one staff focus on all tasks related to finances, such as billing, insurance and collections. You may let the other person work on patient tasks, such as checking patients in and out. 

2. Hygienist

Employing a hygienist during these critical times can be tricky. You must ensure that your payroll expenses are no more than a third of your hygienist’s net production to keep your practice afloat. However, various factors may impact your overall efficiency in this regard, such as broken appointments, unfilled slots, or faulty scheduling systems.

An effective way to address this challenge is by setting up appointments for patients in advance, enhancing your confirmation process, and educating your patients about the importance of return visits. Ultimately, you must coordinate with your hygienist when it comes to x-ray schedules to raise your production numbers.  

3. Dental Assistants

If you prefer to delegate advanced duties to your assistant, you may need more than one to help you effectively serve your patients.

However, on days where your number of patients aren’t as high, see to it that your assistants are working on something productive during their shift. Here are some productive tasks they can take on during gaps:

  • Assist the hygienist
  • Review lab cases and pending treatment plans with waiting patients
  • Follow up with yesterday’s patients to check on how they are doing
  • Contact past due patients following a script you provide
  • Create information sheets


Reopening your dental practice isn’t as simple as it seems. Aside from ensuring that your premises are safe and sanitised, you must also see to it that you have enough resources to keep your operations going. One particular aspect you will need to pay special attention to is your staffing. The number of people you bring on as you reopen your practice will significantly impact how your practice will perform amidst these challenging times.

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