Dental Office Layout: Do You Know the Areas in a Dental Office?

Dental Office Layout: Do You Know the Areas in a Dental Office?

Dental assistants have a wide range of duties assigned to them, so it’s important that they know all the areas of a dental office in which they might be expected to perform. Here’s a rundown of the major office locations in which a dental assistant could end up working and tips for how to make the most of each area.

Reception Area

The reception area is the face of the dental office. It is what patients see when they enter and where they sit when they wait to see a dentist. It creates the first impression, so make sure it’s clean and inviting with enough seats for everyone. Dental assistants working in the reception area should make patients feel at home by greeting them warmly and directing them where to sit. Provide current reading materials for all ages and tidy the area up throughout the day to ensure it continues to be welcoming.

Front Desk/Administrative Area

The front desk, or administrative area, is where the business side of the dental office is handled. It typically includes a desk, telephones, computers, a photocopier, fax machine and a storage area for patients’ medical files. The dental assistant at the front desk should be polite, friendly and patient when interacting with patients in person handling payments and scheduling follow-up appointments, as well as on the phone answering calls and making arrangements with insurance companies and other business partners.

Operating/Exam Room

While the front desk is where the business aspects of a dental office are handled, the operating rooms, or exam rooms, are where the actual dental procedures are performed. Typically, dentists work out of two or more operating rooms, while a dental hygienist works out of one. Dental assistants prepare the rooms for use by keeping them clean and making sure they are stocked with sterilized instruments and supplies, organized for easy access.


The dental laboratory is an area where dentists perform lab work, creating dental appliances like plates, braces, crowns, caps, retainers and fillings. Dental assistants may help dentists in these lab procedures. The laboratory contains special equipment, such as a dental lathe, which polishes crowns and dentures, and model trimmers, which trim and shape dental models. The laboratory may also be used for storage.

Sterilization Area/Center

The sterilization area or center is used to clean, sterilize and store dental instruments — tasks normally performed by dental assistants. Disposable dental supplies may also be stored here. Assistants should ensure the supplies and instruments are organized and clean. The sterilization area is often located in a central location in the office and contains sterilization equipment like an autoclave.

Staff Room/Lounge

The staff room or lounge is a private area where dental assistants and other workers in the office can relax, eat and socialize. It typically contains a table and chairs, plus a refrigerator, microwave oven, coffeemaker and lockers that the staff can use to store their belongings while working.

Dentist’s Private Office

The dentist’s private office is a room that the dentist uses to perform non-clinical work, such as studying patient records and charts, in addition to conducting various business and personal matters. If need be, the dentist may also use the office to consult with patients on private matters. It usually contains a desk, chairs, telephone and computer.

(Sources:, Slideshare)