It’s important to know the qualities of a dental assistant before heading into this career path. The best way to learn more about dental assistant qualities is to start by looking at the day-to-day work involved. Think back to the last time you visited your dentist’s office. No matter the reason you were there, you may have spent a lot of time with a dental assistant. They play a key role in keeping things running during your appointments.
You may have noticed the dental assistants working on a variety of important tasks for each patient, such as:
- Cleaning and sanitizing tools and surfaces
- Organizing the tools in the correct places for the dentist or dental hygienist
- Giving the dentist or hygienist the tools they ask for during a procedure
- Working with a dentist in a lab to prepare impressions or temporary crowns
- Performing administrative duties around the dental office
In a nutshell, dental assistants help with appointment scheduling, patient care, and record keeping. They play a vital role in keeping a patient’s teeth healthy!
Do you have the qualities of a dental assistant?
From looking at the list above, you might be able to list out some good qualities of a dental assistant. Some of the top skills for working as a dental assistant involve communication, flexibility, and organization. It is also important to keep a cool head under pressure. The dentist’s office is a busy place. There are lots of things, tools, paperwork, and people to keep track of. People who thrive when taking on a challenge might be a good fit for the work of a dental assistant.
Dental assistants also handle sensitive patient information. That includes billing and insurance, two areas where you will have to be careful and pay closer attention to the details, so no mistakes are made.
There are other key skills of a good dental assistant. They need to be:
- Team players
It’s okay if you don’t feel you have strong skills in some of these areas. That’s what a good training program is for!
An organized dental assistant is a key member of a dentist’s care team. They may assist dentists with things from a simple procedure to a more invasive one. Usually, the dental assistant keeps track of what tools are where, and when the dentist will need them. They may also document procedures and processes. Then, they make sure this information is available to their coworkers.
They also take care of scheduling and administration tasks. This includes patient appointments, billing, and other record keeping. Dental assistants need an organized system in place to prevent mistakes. Not only does this process need to be organized, but it also needs to be efficient. You may be spending time in patients’ rooms and in an administrative setting. Organization is a key skill you will need for success as a dental assistant because it will help you keep up with the workflow of a busy office.
Dental assistants spend most of the day working with other people. This includes patients, dentists, dental hygienists, and contractors or suppliers for the office. Because of this, a good dental assistant quality is being a team player. You will also need to practice active listening. This means paying attention to people when they speak to you. Then, being able to process the information and respond appropriately.
You will also need to follow directions from a dentist or dental hygienist to help patients. Working together as a team is important. Sometimes, a dentist or hygienist may relay complicated information to a dental assistant. It’s the assistant’s job to absorb this information, record it as part of a patient’s care plan, and then work on the team to execute that plan. You will also help communicate this information to the patient. A career as a dental assistant requires working on a care team and it is important to work together.
Finally, being a team player means being flexible. Sometimes there is only one dental assistant in an office. You may be asked to jump in on things in certain situations. Or you may need to juggle multiple duties at a time. Sometimes, you might need to work nights or weekends. All these activities can be part of the daily work routine. That is why being a team player is a key skill of a good dental assistant.
Dental assistants must be good at multitasking. They work with their hands in tight spaces and under tight deadlines. They will need to know the names of dental tools and dental terminology in quick moments. They will use scheduling software and must know where everything in the office is. A good dental assistant is a multitasker who can handle many projects at a time.
If you think back to that last dentist’s visit you had, it’s likely you were not the only patient there. The dental assistant involved in your appointment could have been handling several cases at a time. Keeping patient records straight, sanitizing rooms between appointments, helping schedule follow-up appointments — there are a lot of moving parts to a dental assistant’s workday, and being able to multitask is key!
Ready to get started on your Dental assistant career journey?
A good program can help you learn the skills required to become a dental assistant. You can have the opportunity to learn these skills through specific training. The only things needed to begin most dental assistant programs are a high school diploma or GED, and a willingness to learn. This makes it an exciting career option for a lot of people!
As you browse potential program options, be sure to consider:
- If the training program includes an externship (the opportunity to apply skills in a real-world environment)
- How long the program lasts (most are around a year)
- How much the program costs
- What else your state may require before you can work as a dental assistant
Dental Assistant training in Michigan at Dorsey College
The Dental Assistant training at Dorsey College in Michigan can help you prepare for your new career in just one year! During the Dental Assistant program, students have the opportunity to learn various skills. Some of those skills include administrative dental office procedures and electronic health records. Students will also cover dental anatomy and physiology, and terminology. Completion of the Dorsey College Dental Assistant program is designed to prepare students to challenge two components of a national certification exam. Learn more about our program today!
NOTE: The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Michigan Board of Dentistry are responsible for the licensing of individuals who want to practice dentistry, dental hygiene and advanced levels of dental assisting. Students attending a dental assisting program offered by a private college that is not accredited by the American Dental Association are not eligible for licensure in the State of Michigan. Dorsey College is classified as a private college and is not accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation; graduates of this program are not eligible for licensure as a Registered Dental Assistant in Michigan. However, graduates of this program may challenge a certification exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. after completing 3,500 hours of dental work experience. Dorsey’s Dental Assistant Program includes the opportunity to sit for the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) and the Infection Control (ICE) certification exams, which are two components of the Dental Assisting national Board (“DANB”) Certified Dental Assistant (“CDA”) exam. Graduates of this program may complete the third exam component necessary for DANB’s CDA credential, which is challenged after completing “a minimum of 3,500 hours’ work experience as a dental assistant, accrued over a period of at least two years (24 months, if employed fulltime) to a maximum of four years (48 months, if employed part-time) which employment must be verified by a licensed dentist.”