So you want to be a Dental Assistant? That’s great! With the right training and education, you can get on a fast track to becoming a Dental Assistant. But a career in dental assisting takes more than a certification. If you want to be successful, you’ll also need the right personality and attributes. Below we’re outlining the 10 important traits every Dental Assistant needs to be successful.
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1. Excellent organizational skillsThe environment in a dentist office is fast paced and ever changing, so as a Dental Assistant, you need to be prepared for anything. The best Dental Assistants take an active role in ensuring they’re always prepared by staying incredibly organized. From paperwork, to patient schedules, and exam room prep, there are many ways organization will help you be successful. For example:
- Keeping patient records in the proper location
- Maintaining accurate patient information
- Ensuring dental instruments and materials are in the right place
2. Detail-oriented personalityAttention to detail is an important trait when one of your primary job responsibilities is to ensure patient safety and comfort in the office. In order to be successful, you’ll need the ability to concentrate on and pay attention to even the smallest details. A detail-oriented personality will come in handy as you…
- Ensure dental tools and instruments are properly sterilized and put away
- Record patient details
- Maintain patient records
- Make certain all tasks are completed
- Identify whether or not your patient is nervous or in pain
3. Ability to manage multiple things at onceAs a Dental Assistant, your day-to-day responsibilities run the gamut. You’ll have to balance all your duties in a smooth and effortless manner. For example, between preparing examination rooms and sterilizing equipment, you’ll need to be ready to answer phone calls, greet and escort patients, answer insurance and billing questions, and assist the other dental staff with procedures. If you don’t like juggling multiple tasks in the span of an hour or even a few minutes, then Dental Assisting will likely be too stressful of a career path for you.
4. Good dexterity skillsAs a Dental Assistant, you’ll be working with your hands a lot. And when you’re assisting the dentist or dental hygienist, you’ll be working in a tight space on a small part of the body. Having great control of the small muscles of your hands and fingers is important. Great hand-eye coordination is also a must as you’ll need to work precisely with small tools and instruments.
5. Professional demeanorDental Assistants play an important role in patient satisfaction – you’ll often be the first and last person a patient interacts with! The way you act and present yourself will reflect (either positively or poorly) on the practice as a whole. What does it mean to be professional?
- Coming into work on time
- Always dressing appropriately
- Taking your work seriously
- Having a good attitude.
6. Strong communication skillsGreat communication is important in any workplace, but especially in a dental office environment. In order for the day to run smoothly and on-schedule, you’ll need to be in constant communication with the rest of the team. Additionally, you’ll often serve as a liaison between different parties, so you’ll need to communicate effectively with various types of people – from patients of all ages to dental staff and dentists. Great chairside manner is key! Here are some key types of communication you’ll need to perfect:
- Speaking face-to-face and over-the-phone
- Explaining complex subjects in a simple way (for example, billing and insurance)
- Initiating small talk with patients
- Describing dental care instructions
- Outlining patient status, room availability, and changes in the daily schedule
7. Great listening abilitiesA big part of being a good communicator is knowing how to listen, but it’s so important that it deserves its own point. Dental Assistants interact closely with patients every day. Your ability to correctly respond to patient’s concerns or questions starts by lending an ear and listening well. Additionally, you’ll need to have good listening skills in order to correctly follow instructions from dentist and dental hygienists. Being a good listener means looking the speaker in the eye, keeping an open mind while the person is talking, and giving regular feedback to better understand and confirm what the person is saying.
8. Compassionate attitudeDid you know that an estimated 60% of the population has anxiety about going to the dentist? Some people are so terrified of visiting the dentist that they’ll have trouble sleeping the night before and may even cry or have an anxiety attack once they get in the exam room. As a Dental Assistant, you need to be aware of this common phobia and provide a compassionate, empathetic attitude to patients at all times. You want to help patients feel calm and do your best to ensure they feel relaxed and confident throughout their appointment.
9. A desire to helpIf you’re not excited about the thought of assisting and helping others, then a career in dental assisting is certainly not for you. The most successful Dental Assistants love and take pride in doing everything they can to work as a team and help the Dentist and Dental Hygienists. As part of your responsibilities, you’ll be called on to assist and act as the right arm of the Hygienist and Dentist. You’ll be handing off instruments, keeping the patient’s mouth clean and dry, and moving their tongue or cheek while they’re examined. Throughout the day, your job is to be a team player, helping in whatever is necessary to keep the office running smoothly.
10. ResilienceDetermination and strong work ethic will go a long way toward your ability to be a successful Dental Assistant. Not every day will be a walk in the park. You’ll be faced with busy days, some unhappy patients, problems to solve, and more. Those who are resilient and dedicated to always giving their best will take these more challenging days in stride and bounce back quickly.
Do you have the traits of a successful Dental Assistant?
If dental assisting sounds like a career right up your alley, don’t wait to get started! Becoming a successful Dental Assistant begins by gaining the right knowledge and training.
At Pacific Northwest Dental Assisting School, our 12-week program offers hands-on training where you’ll learn everything you need to know to launch your career as a Dental Assistant.
We’ve helped hundreds of students throughout Camas and Vancouver take their natural traits and abilities on a fast track towards becoming a Dental Assistant. We even offer a Dental Assisting Externship!