Traits of a Successful Dental Assistant
Dental assisting is a great profession that is growing in demand. But it takes more than just a certification to really be successful. If you are thinking about a career in this field, consider these important traits that every dental assistant needs to be successful.
- Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail
A dentist office can be fast-paced and constantly changing, so it’s important to be able to keep things organized so that you can handle anything that comes up. By keeping things such as paperwork, patient schedules, and exam room prep in order, you can be sure that you’re always one step ahead and not be thrown off by anything. It also helps to have an eye for detail. This is important not just for your success, but to ensure patient safety and comfort in the office. Being able to recognize even the smallest details ensures such things as: that dental tools and instruments are properly sterilized and put away, patient records are accurately kept, and being able to recognize when a patient is nervous or in pain.
- Ability to multi-task
You’ll have many responsibilities as a dental assistant, which you’ll be expected to fulfill in a smooth, timely manner. Being able to handle multiple things at once (such as answering phone calls while preparing examination rooms and sterilizing equipment, as well as greeting and escorting patients and answering insurance and billing questions) ensures that the office can run smoothly.
- Good dexterity
Whether you’re assisting the dentist or hygienist, you’ll be working with your hands a lot as a dental assistant. Having good control of your hands and fingers is important when working in a tight space on a small part of the body. Good hand-eye coordination is also important in order to handle small tools and instruments with precision.
- Be a team player and have a professional demeanor
There’s no way to avoid working as part of a team when you’re a dental assistant, as you’ll be working directly alongside either a hygienist or dentist. To make sure that things go smoothly, you’ll have to keep in mind what tasks they’ll need help with and what other tasks need completing around the office.
- Strong communication skills and a professional demeanor
You’ll often be the first (and last) point of contact with patients in the office, so the way you behave reflects directly on the practice. As well as patients, you’ll be in constant contact with your coworkers. It’s important to know how to communicate with both groups, not just interacting in a respectful, professional manner, but also expressing yourself clearly so that no misunderstandings occur. To be able to communicate well, you also have to be a good listener. This is important when listening to instructions from the dentist as well as when listening to patients when they express concerns or have questions.
You probably are aware that many people have anxiety when it comes to visiting the dentist. Whether or not you can empathize with these patients, it’s important to be aware of this phobia and be understanding of it. If a patient has a positive experience at the dentist office, with compassionate hygienists and dental assistants, they may feel more confident in keeping their appointments in the future. This extends even to patients who don’t have any anxiety.