What Are the Different Roles for the Front Office and Back Office?

When talking about dental assistants, it’s important to remember that there are several types, each with its own duties and responsibilities. On the one hand, there are Hygiene, Clinical Dental, Endodontic, Orthodontist, and Expanded Duties Dental Assistants, while on the other hand, we have Office Managers in charge of running a dental office. All of them are considered dental assistants and all of them are tasked to see the seamless and efficient operation of a dental office.

When applying for a dental assistant position, however, you might be asked to provide any relevant experience as either a back or front office. And while dental assistants may sometimes be asked to work in both positions, it’s best to know what are the responsibilities and roles of each. That said, here is a rundown of both front office and back office dental assistants.

Front Office Dental Assistants

As the name of the position suggests, front office dental assistants work around the front door of a dental office. They usually sit at the front desk, near the waiting room and are the first point of contact between the dental office and the patients. This position handles more of the administrative side of a dental office and may require more people-oriented skills than back office dental assistants.

Due to the nature of their work, front office assistants will benefit by possessing the following skills:

  • Organizational skills
  • Reception skills
  • Communication skills
  • Listening abilities
  • Interpersonal skills
  • A positive attitude, and pleasant personality
  • A clear speaking voice, and telephone etiquette
  • A proper work demeanor, dress code, and grooming
  • Computer proficiency
  • Understanding of dental practice management software
  • Records management capabilities
  • Knowledge of various types of insurance coverage, billing procedures, forms, etc.
  • Treatment and payment plants

These skills will be helpful when working as a front office dental assistant. The duties and roles of this position can vary, depending on each dental office, but will generally include the following:

  • Greeting and checking in patients
  • Customer relations
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Answering phones, sending reminders, faxing, copying, and other general office duties
  • Supporting marketing teams with referrals
  • Data entry
  • Mail processing
  • Billing
  • General bookkeeping
  • Estimating patients’ share of the cost
  • Collecting payments
  • Handling insurance claims
  • Treatment planning
  • Records management
  • Developing and maintaining the back office schedule

Back Office Dental Assistants

Back office dental assistants, on the other hand, are more directly involved in the clinical procedures that go on in the office. Back-end dental assistants will help dentists, orthodontists, endodontists, prosthodontists, surgeons, etc., prior, during, and after the dental procedure.

Some useful skills that can help back office dental assistants may include the following:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Knowledge of dental equipment as well as how to use and maintain them
  • Laboratory skills
  • Knowledge of safety and sanitation procedures and regulations
  • Knowledge of preventive dentistry techniques
  • Understanding of the oral anatomy
  • X-ray operation
  • Anesthesia administration
  • Sterilization procedures

Depending on the exact type of back office dental assistant, the duties that are allowed to be carried out under the general or direct supervision of the dentist. These can include the following:

  • Assisting dentists in the examination process, as well as during the procedures. It involves identifying the dental instruments and handing them to the dentist.
  • Operating the dental equipment
  • Administering anesthesia
  • Sterilizing dental instruments
  • Responding to dental office emergencies
  • Cleaning, sterilizing, and organizing exam rooms
  • Instructing patients on oral hygiene, postoperative procedures, and preventive dentistry.


These skills and roles presented here are some of the main differences between front and back office dental assistants. If you are looking to start a career in this profession, or are looking to further your knowledge, Dental Specialties Inc. offers a wide array of programs and certifications. Contact us today for more information!