Everywhere you look people seem to be texting, tweeting or taking a quick selfie — sometimes even at work.

In fact, one of the more common things we’ve heard dental assistants talk about is cell phone use in the office — when it’s okay, when it’s not okay, and how employers should handle it.

We’ve heard many opinions on the subject, so today we’ll present both sides and let you decide. What do you think about cell phone use in the dental office?


Using your cell phone at work is OK under certain circumstances.

Those who say it’s OK to use your cell phone at work stipulate that there is a right time and place to do so, such as:

  • When there is down time
  • During breaks
  • In an emergency


“I’ve told the assistants I supervise that if everything is done they can check their phones. But of course we all know when you’re a dental assistant, there is always something else to do!”


“I feel cell phones should only be accessible during lunch breaks or during morning/afternoon breaks — if you get one!”


“It isn’t good to spend a lot of time playing with your phone at work, but there are times people may need to check their phones during the day, like if they have a sick child.”


Using your cell phone at work is never OK.

Others say using your cell phone at work is never appropriate and reflects badly on the dental practice. The reasons they give are that it’s:

  • Unprofessional
  • Inappropriate
  • Bad for business
  • Patient privacy concerns


“My biggest pet peeve is co-workers checking their phones three to five times an hour. I finally told the other assistants that it isn’t acceptable — the doctor isn’t paying them to be on their phones.”  


“You would never be allowed to use the office phone for personal calls three or four times a day — so why should your cell phone be any different?”


“We have a problem with staff being on their phones and social media in between patients. This happens a lot at the front desk — it’s bad for patients who might see this behavior and for the staff members who are working hard in the back.”


Another reason cell phone use in the dental office is problematic is that it can open up issues around patient privacy. For example, it is never appropriate to take photos of patients without their permission or knowledge, even if they are in the background of the photo. Talk to your employer if you have questions about patient privacy laws.


It’s a hot topic for sure and we want to know what you think!

What do you think about personal cell phone use in the dental office? How often do you look at your phone during the work day? Does your office have a policy in place? Let us know in the comments!