Dental office managers depend on great dental assistants to help them lead a healthy, efficient practice. Follow these five tips to make yourself a crucial partner with your office leadership.


1. Find the Best Way to Communicate

First, to have strong rapport with the office manager, you’ll want to ensure you’re communicating well and often — starting at the beginning of the workday, during a morning “huddle” meeting. And you’ll want to be prepared for this meeting. You might consider arriving to work a few minutes early to have all of your notes ready for the huddle.

Beyond talking during the huddle, you also could consider stopping by the office manager’s office at the same time each day to discuss specific items. Or, if something less formal works for you, you could write down your thoughts on a sticky note to review with the office manager later, especially on a busy workday. Bottom line: Find the best way to communicate with the office manager each day, do it every day and keep it simple. Consistency is key.


2. Prioritize Your Talking Points

Second, you’ll want to make sure you always highlight what’s most important when communicating with the office manager. You might consider this question: What’s the most important thing you need to do your job? Is it having a particular piece of equipment in the operatory repaired? Rearranging the schedule so that you and the dentist aren’t doing back-to-back intense procedures? Restocking a particular item more frequently?

Let your office manager know what you believe your biggest needs are so she doesn’t have to assume or guess. When office managers know what’s most important, they will be more likely to help you in a timely manner, especially if they’re managing other employees’ needs throughout the week as well.


3. Be a Leader

Demonstrating your ability to be a leader in your department also can be helpful. Your office manager depends on you to make important decisions for the team and your part of the office. While some assistants may be hesitant to ask for permission to make choices related to the clinical area of the practice, doing so can help your office manager tackle other projects and empower you in your own professional role.


4. Initiate Training

Another way to ensure a cohesive partnership with the office manager is by always pursuing the latest knowledge. As a chairside assistant, you know what you’re best at (and which areas you likely need more information or training on). Be on the lookout for courses, classes and seminars that can help you take your skills to the next level. More often than not, your office manager looks to you and to the dentist for input on the types of continuing education to pursue for the practice.


5. Respect All Staff Members

Finally, as a dental assistant, always be mindful of maintaining a positive rapport not only with the office manager, but with all members of the dental team. One of the last things most office managers want to do is moderate personnel issues among team members. Do your best to get along, and make gentle suggestions to the person involved when there needs to be a change (remember, you attract more flies with honey). Only take a personnel issue to the manager if there’s no way to resolve it on your own.

A high percentage of dental practice managers come into their role after previous employment as a chairside assistant — so it’s likely that you and your office manager are similarly trained and knowledgeable. For this reason, the dental assistant and dental office manager typically make a great team! Through nourishing and developing your partnership in healthy ways, your partnership, as well as your practice’s future (and your career), will be more likely to bloom!


About the Author of this Post

Heather Colicchio is the Founder and President of the American Association of Dental Office Management. For more information about AADOM, visit