Five Skills You Need To Be An Amazing Dental Assistant
Being an amazing dental assistant isn’t as easy as you might think. While it is incredibly important to be able to carry out tasks such as taking X-rays and handing the dentist the right dental instrument at the right time, there are many more behind-the-scenes skills that are important to have if you really want to excel in this role.
According to Cloud Dentistry, if you’re a dental assistant, ask yourself if you’ve got the following skills. If you do—that’s great, you’re an amazing dental assistant. If you don’t—it’s worth trying to develop the skills to increase your value in the practice.
1. Have a professional, clean-cut appearance
As a dental assistant, you work in full view of patients every day. To maintain the prestige of a great dental practice, it’s important all staff, including dental assistants, take a lot of care when it comes to their appearance.
- Uniforms should always be exact (no substitutions), clean and well-ironed
- Hair should always be neat and away from the face
- Makeup should be minimal
- Jewelry should be tasteful and nominal
Patients equate the cleanliness and professionalism of staff to that of the practice and you don’t want to give a bad impression. A well put-together team of staff suggests a professional, clean dental practice that knows what it’s doing.
2. Know the stages of all procedures
It’s usually a dental assistant’s job to prepare the room for the dentist before treatment begins. This requires making sure all the instruments are easily available and, ideally, having them lined up in the order they’ll be used. It also involves making sure all the required machines are present and plugged in, the proper handpiece is ready and the correct bur is inside the handpiece to begin the treatment.
The last thing you want to do is have to run out of the room in the middle of a treatment to get an instrument you forgot. If it helps, until you can memorize it, you can create a checklist of all the instruments needed for each treatment and refer to it when preparing the room.
3. Understand when to be quiet
Knowing when it’s an appropriate time to chat and when it’s best to stay quiet is one of the most important skills of an amazing dental assistant. Clear communication is vital so everyone is on the same page during treatments and if a little bit of chat can also help a patient feel more relaxed. But knowing when the dentist requires their full concentration, or you need to listen for some complex instructions coming your way soon is also crucial.
Unlike some of the skills on this list which you can develop on your own, on your own time, this skill is only really developed on the job when you’re working with the dentist and patients.
4. Be a team player
When a member of staff gets sick, goes on vacation or has a family emergency, the practice owner has two choices: get the remaining staff to pitch in and take up the slack or hire temp dental staff to help fill in. As a dental assistant, you could be asked to do everything from basic admin usually carried out by the dental receptionist or a simple teeth cleaning usually performed by a dental hygienist. You should always have a proactive attitude and be ready to help whenever asked.
It’s worth going the extra mile and finding out how the dental software works just in case you are asked to collect payments due, schedule an appointment or input a patient’s past treatment. It’s also wise to find out how to carry out some of the simple dental treatments in case you’re asked to perform them during someone’s absence.
While it’s important to be a team player, it’s also important to know your limits. Never try and execute a task if you don’t feel qualified to do it.
5. Strive to learn more
The tools and techniques involved in dentistry are constantly advancing. To stay up-to-date and ensure the practice provides patients with the best treatment it can, all dental staff should continuously develop their skills and acquire new knowledge.
Most dentists regularly attend courses on the latest progress made in dentistry and improved ways to manage their practice. They need a keen dental assistant to take the new changes and ideas on board and work with them. A dental assistant who doesn’t embrace change might soon be without a job.
One great way you can expand your knowledge and skills as a dental assistant is to work at different dental practices. With Cloud Dentistry, you can create an online profile for free and provide your services to practices across your local area on a freelance basis. You get to decide when you work, where you work and how much you get paid.