The 5 habits of a highly effective dental assistant

The 5 habits of a highly effective dental assistant

What habits make a dental assistant highly effective?

Being a dental assistant is a stressful but rewarding career path. As a dental assistant, you spend hours assisting dentists, working closely with dental hygienists to ensure quality patient care, and handle administrative tasks. Dental assistants do it all. They take their job seriously and strive to be successful and help those around them. 

What makes them effective at their job? For one, dental assistants must proactive when working with staff and patients plus staying in the know.  There are many ways a dental assistant can be effective and succeed during their years in practice.  Check out 5 habits of a highly effective dental assistant.

Be a good communicator

As the saying goes, no two patients are alike. Having strong communication skills goes a long way, especially when working with patients. As the liaison between patients, dentists, and insurance companies, dental assistants actively communicate patient needs. Whether they explain dental hygiene procedures to patients and guardians or share information or billing questions with insurance companies for payment processes, assistants are always conversing.

Dental Assistant Communication Responsibilities

  • Virtually chatting with patients about their next visit
  • Connecting with patient and insurance companies on billing issues
  • Communicating dentist orders to patient or pharmacy
  • Scheduling patient for appointments
  • Working with dental hygienists and dentists during procedures

Actively Listening

In dentistry, actively listening is as important as communication. When assistants actively listen and take patients’ thoughts and concerns into consideration, they feel safe and cared for.  Also, actively listening allows dental assistants to pay attention to details that dental hygienists or dentists may not know. For example, listening to patients about their previous dental office experience can help you ease their fears, especially if they’ve had negative experiences, or it’s their first dental visit. Dental assistants can share those concerns with staff before the procedure, allowing staff to take care of patient needs during and after the procedure. Plus, listening reduces the risk of making mistakes or ignoring important information. 

Note: Check out Mind Tool’s tips on Actively Listening 

Staying current 

Dental assistants need to keep up with dental trends, procedures, skills, and technology, especially now, as the pandemic continues. Dental assistants can attend continuing education courses, webinars, or workshops to stay current and keep their skills sharp. As most things shift online, dental assistants work with staff members to implement new virtual technology and procedures. Learning more about telehealth and receiving certification helps dental assistants effectively assist patients and staff, improve their skills, and increase their pay. 

CE and Webinars to Check out in 2021

Note: CDC  procedures for guidelines for dental offices.

Be Proactive

As a dental assistant, sometimes the days are long, hectic, and challenging, especially when working during a pandemic. Still, dental assistants must stay proactive, whether it means straightening the waiting room, doing office inventory,  developing effective hygiene packages for patients, talking to patients who may be uneasy about visits, and communicating concerns to staff. Being proactive also means creating new office focused procedures. If you have ideas about easing patient visits or recruitment and retention of patients, bring them to the staff meeting.  Be confident in yourself, your thoughts, and your work.

Be Professional, Organized, and Aware

Dental assistants are working to maintain order inside and outside of the procedural rooms.  At the front desk, dental assistants greet patients, schedule, take payments, and answer questions at the front desk. They assist dentists during procedures, whether it’s changing instruments or writing notes. 

To be a highly effective dental assistant, you must be observant. That means staying organized, checking materials, and ensuring equipment and tools are functioning and sanitized. Working next to the dentist often means expecting what tools they need during procedures.  The dental assistants should be aware of patient needs and ready to answer questions and concerns at the front desk. 

Being a highly effective dental assistant can help patients feel comfortable and cared for during their visit. A highly effective dental assistant is an asset to any dental office. Not only that, but it increases their job satisfaction. 

Are you a highly effective dental assistant looking for a job? Do you have experience as a dental assistant or hygienist? Create an account here, and we will match your profile when the best job offers in your area.


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About the author

Joycelyn Ghansah

Joycelyn Ghansah is a former Healthcare Organizer with a background public health, include reproductive and sexual health. When she's not freelance writing, she's transcribing interviews and researching ways to strengthen healthcare labor laws.

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