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7 Qualities of a Successful Dental Assistant

Concorde Staff
Concorde Staff
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Updated November 30, 2022. The information contained in this blog is current and accurate as of this date.
7 Qualities of a successful dental assistant

Dental assistants make it possible for dental offices to run smoothly and efficiently. Whether it's at the front desk, in the examination rooms, or behind the scenes, dental assistants help with it all. From helping with patient examinations, to processing important documents, to educating patients on proper dental hygiene, the work dental assistants perform helps dentists execute their jobs well, puts patients at ease, and keeps offices operating successfully.

If you're considering a career as a dental assistant, there are several qualities you should possess. Already having these qualities is a good first step, but it's also possible to develop these traits and succeed in your career. Honing your skills while earning your credentials can help you greatly in your role as a dental assistant. Of course, if you're on the fence about pursuing the eight-month program to train to become one, then this list can also help you determine if you're well suited to the role.

1. You're Well Organized and Meticulous

One quality of a successful dental assistant is that they're well organized and meticulous. This is for a few reasons and can help in multiple aspects of their work. Here's a closer look at the different areas of the role where being well organized and meticulous can help:

Keeping Documents

Dental assistants often help to keep important documents and patient files within an office organized. They might need to update files or take new patient information. Staying organized helps the office provide better quality care to its patients. It means all documents and files are up to date, giving easy and reliable access to relevant patient reports. It's important for patients to trust their dental care provider with their information, especially if it contains important medical records, personal information, or financial information.

Sanitizing Equipment

Being meticulous is also important for preparing and maintaining equipment and spaces within an office. Dental assistants are often responsible for arranging dentists' workstations and tools. Cleaning equipment properly ensures patient health and the professionalism of your office. Providing clean and organized workspaces for dentists makes their jobs easier and helps them offer a high level of care to their patients.

Assisting in Examinations

Dental assistants often work alongside dentists during examinations. They might take impressions, give summaries of patient needs and concerns, and manage the equipment as the dentist works. Having a working knowledge of tools and what the dentist needs requires dental assistants to be well organized.

Processing Billing and Payment

Sometimes, it's the duty of the dental assistant to take patient information like insurance and payment info. To do this, dental assistants must prepare receipts, record information accurately, and update patients' files and the office's books to reflect their payments. Staying organized keeps sensitive information safe and ensures the office charges for its services correctly.

Scheduling Patient Appointments

Dental assistants may also be responsible for scheduling patient appointments. Keeping an organized calendar helps assistants plan their days and keep patients on track for the correct services. Some offices choose to send out patient reminders, and organizational skills can help with this task, too.

2. You Can Multitask

Because dental assistants handle a myriad of responsibilities, it's important for them to be able to multitask successfully. They may, for example, be preparing patient rooms while also updating patient files or welcoming patients to their appointments. Completing these tasks simultaneously can make for a more seamless visit for patients and ensure everything runs smoothly during the day.

It's also important for them to be able to handle different responsibilities. Depending on their exact position, dental assistants often run multiple aspects of the office. This includes front desk work like filing, accepting payment, scheduling appointments, and giving patients the appropriate paperwork. It also includes helping dentists with their duties and assisting them as they perform examinations and conduct procedures. Being able to educate and communicate with patients is another important aspect of the job.

With so many diverse job responsibilities, the ability to multitask is very important for dental assistants.

3. You Have Strong Communication Skills

Strong communication skills are necessary for dental assistants, too. These skills can facilitate their interactions with both patients and the dentists they assist. Here's a closer look at specific responsibilities where communication skills are critical:

Educating Patients

One important responsibility of dental assistants is educating patients on proper dental hygiene and best practices. They might also inform patients on the specifics of certain procedures or examination elements. The ability to educate patients successfully so they understand valuable information about their health is vital to the success of a dental assistant.

Listening to Patient Updates

Communicating with patients is a two-way street. As important as it is for to be able to speak so they understand what's happening and what actions they need to perform, the dental assistant also need to be able to listen to their concerns, updates, or questions. Sometimes, dental assistants spend more time with patients than dentists do. Being a compassionate listener and noticing important details can help provide the best care for patients' needs.

Communicating Important Patient Information to Dentists

Patients often speak to dental assistants about their concerns, needs, updates, or questions. When appropriate, assistants can communicate summaries to dentists so that the dentist can provide the right type of care to the patient. Listening for relevant information that the dentist needs to know is a crucial aspect of the job.

Assisting Dentists With Their Activities

During examinations and procedures. working seamlessly with the dentist is essential for a positive patient experience. Anticipating the dentist's needs, answering questions quickly and accurately, and responding to requests in a timely manner ensures patients get the care they need effectively. Strong communication skills can help with providing the right information and actions at the right time.

4. You're Self Motivated and Prepared

For dental assistants, bringing your A-game to work is imperative. When it comes to patients, working effectively and efficiently means a higher standard of care to patients. Dental assistants are part of important healthcare teams. By working together with the others on your team, you can ensure a positive experience. Here's a closer look at how each of these traits can help you in your role:

Being Self-Motivated

Dental assistants who are self-motivated and independent often find greater success in their roles. Because assistants work as part of a team, it's important that they carry their own weight and provide value. Usually, there won't be someone there reminding you of what to do and when to do it. It's important to look around and see what needs to be done. Doing this keeps things in the office moving and helps those around you perform their own tasks more successfully. Because everyone is busy, having the confidence to do your job independently matters.

Being Prepared

Being focused and prepared is also important in a dental assistant's role. Often, dentists rely on the help of their assistants in order to complete their work with patients successfully. They might request patient files or information, and being able to access this information quickly ensures dentists have what they need when they need it. That's where being prepared and anticipating what the dentist or other member of the care team will require matters.

Staying focused during examinations and procedures is also valuable for keeping the process moving. Do your best to familiarize yourself with an appointment before the patient arrives. Understand the services they're receiving and what the dentist might need to complete the appointment successfully. Doing this can save valuable time and energy and make you a better asset to your team.

5. You Possess Exceptional Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is one of the most important skills a dental assistant can have. They can apply this skill in multiple aspects of their job, like sanitizing equipment, finding relevant information in patient files, and preparing examination rooms and patient care rooms successfully.

When preparing rooms, attention to detail helps assistants check supply levels, get materials for specific appointments ready in advance, and notice if a room requires additional cleaning. With paperwork, attention to detail makes it possible to notice if any information is incorrect or missing. It also helps assistants to locate relevant and important information that a dentist may need to know about a patient.

6. You're Committed to Professionalism

Remaining professional in your position carries value in so many aspects of the dental assistant role. The position demands a lot, and staying professional helps you represent your workplace and yourself well. Being professional is important for:

Representing Yourself

Dental assistants perform important roles and have high expectations to meet. Being professional helps assure employers and team members that you have what it takes to execute the duties of the position with tact, decorum, and authority. Being professional also helps you appear more credible, both to patients and to the professionals you work with in your role. This can help you maintain your reputation and advance in your career successfully.

Representing Your Office Well

When you interact with patients, team members, and other care providers on behalf of your office, your actions represent your workplace. Being professional helps your office maintain credibility and respect and shows that you value providing the best care to your patients. This means better patient sentiments and an improved ability to provide quality, long-term services to your patients. Many offices depend on reviews, referrals, and strong patient relationships to grow and thrive. Representing your office well helps elevate the level of care it can provide.

Representing Your Team Well

Not only does your professionalism reflect on your employer, but it also reflects on your fellow team members. By being respectful and taking your role seriously, you can make it easier for others to perform their jobs well, too. Take pride in your attitude and contributions.

7. You're Helpful and Compassionate

Many patients fear the dentist. It's important to approach patients with kindness and empathy to help them feel at ease and to make their experience a positive one. Working in healthcare can require a degree of selflessness. It's part of what makes the job so rewarding. Your helpfulness and compassion can help you:

Build Patient Trust

Building patient relationships is often a top priority of most dental offices. Patient trust means that patients feel comfortable around you, trust their dental health to you, and feel confident in the level of care you can provide. You can build trust by being patient and kind. By listening compassionately when patients share concerns or questions, you can put them at ease and develop your relationship. A strong relationship can also mean a stronger willingness to follow instructions and recommendations they hear during their appointment.

Improve Your Office's Reputation

When patients feel that they are heard and cared for, they're more likely to enjoy their experience. By leaving a positive impression on patients, you increase the chances of them sharing their approval with friends or in a review. This can boost your office's ability to reach patients and help you establish yourself as a trusted care professional.

Offer High-Level Patient Care

Having a goal to provide the best possible patient care should be a top priority for every dental assistant. Compassion and caring is an important aspect of this. By being kind, respectful, and compassionate, you can offer a top-tier experience to patients and ensure they leave your office feeling cared for and heard. No matter how busy you are or how basic something might appear, it's crucial to always put the patient first in your work as a dental assistant.

Do these qualities describe you? If so, chances are you'd make a great dental assistant. Dental assistants have great jobs where they can interact with patients, provide memorable and important care to those in need, and never suffer from a boring or monotonous career. At Concorde, you can have the opportunity to learn and develop the skills and experience needed for the role in our dental assistant program, helping you train for a career you can feel good about. Dental assistants are valuable members of a healthcare team, and the work they do can change patients' lives.