I have been a long time reader of your newsletter. I was wondering if you had an idea of how many assistants you would need. I am a general dentist for the last 31 years. I see anywhere from 12 to 24 general dental patients a day. I currently have three assistants and work out of 3 rooms. I wanted to know if you had a way to measure how many assistants are needed based on patients per day. Thanks in advance for your help with this.
John S., DDS, FAGD
Hi Dr. S,
Thank you so much for reading my newsletter. I think it’s been 8 years now!
I’m not sure that you know that I started as a dental assistant when I was 16 working in the office where my mother worked as a dental assistant. I later became Certified and also took the first expanded duties test in the state of Ohio to place restorative material in 1976 and taught dental assisting for 5 years from 1975 to 1980 when I started my consulting business.
So, I am coming from a position of knowing this area…..that was a long winded point, huh?
One assistant can assist with up to 13 doctor patients per day. It is an old wive’s tale that one assistant is needed for every treatment room you work out of. Suffice it to say, I would say that you are “probably” overloaded by 1 assistant. I say “probably” because I can’t see how you schedule, don’t know what state you are in to determine what the law is for delegation of duties to an assistant or that you agree with that. Expanded function scheduling where assistants would be allowed to place restorative material might be the only reason where 3 would be needed. Because, one is placing fillings while another might be making a temporary crown and the other one is with you. So, without looking at your schedule… I can’t tell for sure. But, I would be looking for times when a second or 3rd assistant is struggling trying to find something to do. I mean, let’s face it, there’s only so many cotton rolls you can stock in a drawer, right?
The 12 to 24 general patients should not include your hygiene exams on hygiene patients. Just your scheduled patients. Even so, I’m still guessing one too many assistants.
Hope this helps.