6 traits of a successful dental assistant

By: Jamie Finch

Dentists may get the most credit for helping people achieve a perfect smile, but the contribution of their assistants should not be underestimated. Dental assistants perform many important roles that help keep a dental practice running smoothly, including assisting dentists in surgery.

The career of a dental assistant can be exciting, and having the right people in those roles can have a significant positive impact on the dental industry. However, being a dental assistant can be demanding, and if you’re interested in that career, having certain qualities can help you be successful.

6 Valuable Skills Every Dental Assistant Needs

Here are some of the key qualities you need to be a dental assistant.

1. Craftsmanship

Dentists and their assistants work with devices that can cause nerve damage, tooth damage, or infection if a patient has an accident. Procedures must be accurate and the smallest mistake can have disastrous consequences for both practices and their patients.

Dental Malpractice Statistics show that dentists are likely to be burdened with three to five lawsuits over the course of their careers. So to reduce the high risk of an accident, you need strong motor skills as a dental assistant.

They must be able to use tools accurately and with a steady hand to ensure that procedures run smoothly. This level of skill can take a lot of practice to acquire.

2. Organizational Skills

A dentist’s office is busy and things can quickly get mixed up if the practice is not organized. As a dental assistant, you need excellent organizational skills so you can keep up with the pace.

When a dental assistant is called in to do something, they must be prepared and ready to take on the task right away.

For example, you need to make sure the dentist has all their equipment on hand when needed, and keep patient records in order so that everything is easy to find when needed.

3. People Skills

Few people enjoy going to the dentist and some feel quite nervous during their appointment. However, everyone has to go to the dentist, so as a dental assistant you need the right people skills to reassure nervous or unwilling patients and keep them calm. Otherwise, it can be difficult for the dentist to do his job properly.

Strong communication skills are also important, not only when you are with patients, but also with the dentist and other staff. For example, a dental assistant must be able to take instructions and provide useful feedback and information.

4. Attention to detail

Any mistake in a dentist’s office can lead to negative outcomes for everyone involved, so as a dental assistant you need to pay close attention to detail.

Dental assistants must pay close attention when the dentist performs a procedure and meticulously keep a record of the patient’s dental records and other details. Any oversight, such as infection control breaches, can cause serious problems.

Attention to detail also ties in with your people skills. It will help you recognize when patients are nervous or in pain so you can help them relax as much as possible.

5. Reliability

If a dental assistant is late or does not show up for work, the dentist’s job can become much more challenging. This also puts much more pressure on other assistants and in some cases can cause inconvenience to patients when appointments are delayed.

Dental assistants also need to be reliable in their focus on the job. If their minds tend to wander or their work ethic is lacking, it’s important to strive for improvement so the rest of the team isn’t let down.

One mistake can have a serious negative impact on a dental practice, so it is essential that all dental assistants are reliable.

6. Ability to Multitask

With the fast pace of a dental office, dental assistants must be good at multitasking. There will be times when it will be necessary to do more than one thing at a time, and these tasks must be completed accurately and quickly.

For example, you must ensure that the dentist has the correct data for his patient and the correct tools. Some people are easily confused when asked to do several things at once, but a dental assistant must perform the tasks calmly and competently.

Do you have what it takes to be a good dental assistant?

The above is just a small sampling of the qualities required to be a successful dental assistant. You must also be intelligent, versatile, compassionate, resilient and have a desire to help other people.

Some states require you to undergo training and many dental offices expect you to be trained regardless of state regulations.

If you have what it takes and the will to succeed, dental assistants can be an exciting career.

Learn more:

  • Dental Assistant Requirements for New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oklahoma
  • Dental Assistant Requirements for Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota

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