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What Is Required to Be a Dental Receptionist?

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson, studioD

Going to the dentist can be nerve-wracking, but a friendly face at the reception desk can calm those nerves. A dental receptionist is responsible not only for helping arriving and departing patients, but also for keeping dentists on schedule, and handling phone calls and insurance claims. A dentist looking to hire a receptionist may seek an engaging person who puts people at ease and is good at multi-tasking.

Education and Experience

No specific set of requirements or degree is needed to become a dental receptionist. Look for applicants who have taken classes that best prepare them for the job. College-level courses in topics such as health administration or accounting are helpful. Some schools also offer dental receptionist certificates or training programs that cover basic skills. These can be as long as a year or as short as a month. Strong candidates have previous experience in a dentist's office as a volunteer, or has worked as a receptionist or secretary in another type of office.


A friendly and comforting personality is one of the most important aspects to look for in a dental receptionist. A receptionist is the first person a patient interacts with when he enters or calls the office. The receptionist will also be the person who first interacts with sales representatives and insurance companies.


Dental receptionists must be very organized. Dental receptionists schedule appointments according to the dentists' calendars; keep track of patients and when they are due for followup appointments; and deal with insurance claims. Falling behind on any of these tasks can harm a dentist office's productivity and profits.


Strong written and verbal communication skills are a requirement for a dental receptionist. Not only does the receptionist make phone calls, but she also sends out all official correspondence from the office. A particularly skilled receptionist may be put in charge of marketing efforts, such as placing ads or writing press releases. This is one of the main ways dentist offices bring in clients, so vetting a job candidate's communication skills is vital to making a hiring decision.

Computer Skills

Save time and money by hiring a receptionist who is already familiar with scheduling software. She should also know accounting and spreadsheet software if she will be responsible for running the end-of-day reports, balancing money collected, or overseeing accounts payable and payroll.

About the Author

With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

Photo Credits

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