Skills to Support a Dentist: A Dental Assistant’s Guide

乐乐棋牌With the demand for dental assistants rapidly increasing, this is an excellent field for those interested in a career with great potential. Not only do dental assistants have a wonderful opportunity to interact with others, but they are also able to make a positive difference in the patient’s dental experience. They also significantly improve the dentist’s office efficiency by using their administrative skills. With more group dental offices growing more popular, the opportunities are increasing for dental assistants.

There are several skills that are required in becoming a dental assistant. Some of those skills include interpersonal, listening and communication skills. Other skills include being detail oriented, having good organization, knowledge of computers, good dexterity, professional appearance, and passion for one’s job.

Skill #1 – Interpersonal

This skill is very important for dental assistants to master. Visiting a dentist can be very fearful and scary for patients, especially young children. Interacting with patients in a professional and friendly manner is important. Patients may arrive in the office in severe pain or distress. The dental assistant must reassure the patient and offer empathy. They will need to remain as calm as possible if a patient is highly agitated. Being sensitive to a patient’s needs is critical in helping to relieve their stress and to ease their pain.

Skill #2 – Listening

Dental assistants need to listen carefully to patients as they describe the reason for their visit. They need to understand exactly what is causing the patient’s distress. The dental assistant also needs to follow instructions precisely from the dentist or dental hygienist. For instance, if the dental assistant is asked to take an x-ray, they will need to know exactly what the dentist requires in order to fully help the patient.

Skill #3 – Communication

Another important skill is communication, both verbal and written. Dental assistants are the only communicators between the dentists and patients. It’s imperative that they share the dentist’s instructions and concerns correctly with their patients. By doing so, the patient will fully understand what they can and cannot do before their next visit. The dental assistant may also assist the dentist in explaining about any prescriptions the patient may need for pain or an infection.

Skill #4 – Detail Oriented

Accuracy in following rules and regulations is significant when helping a dentist. Since healthcare fields are regulated by the state where they work, the dental assistant must be aware of those regulations. Handling day-to-day tasks and making sure everything is done correctly and efficiently will help the office run smoothly.

Skill #5 – Organization

In assisting a dentist, all dental tools must be kept in an orderly manner. The dentist or dental hygienist should always be able to find the tools they need without having to search for them. The dentist’s office needs to be kept un-cluttered, neat, and clean. It also helps if a dental assistant is efficient in multi-tasking and able to prioritize their schedules.

Skill #6 – Computer

A basic knowledge of software, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Quicken, and dental software may all be used in a dental office. Calculators or Ten Keys may also be used. Some of the specific software often used in dentist offices is: Eaglesoft Practice Management, Carestream Dental, and Dentrix.

Skill #7 – Dexterity

Another skill that is important to help a dentist is dexterity. This is a hands-on field, so it’s necessary for a dental assistant to work well with their hands. Being quick and skillful mentally is also essential, especially during minor dental surgery.

Skill #8 – Appearance

It’s imperative that a dental assistant have a professional appearance. Often, they are the first person a patient sees when walking into the dentist’s office. Scrubs are usually the chosen attire. The dental assistant needs to make sure their clothes are neat and comfortable. Being on their feet a good part of the day will require comfortable shoes that are kept clean and tidy. It’s also mandatory to have excellent hygiene as the dental assistant works closely with both the dentist and patient.

Skill #9. Passion

A dentist will want a dental assistant that takes pride in their work and loves helping others. Many times, the dental assistant is the dentist’s right arm. The dentist will depend on their knowledge and desire to help patients through any and all procedures and care.

Having the correct skills to become a dental assistant is obviously very important, but it also helps to know what sort of duties they can be expected to perform. Here are a few of those duties.

Administrative Duties

Dental assistants may help set up appointments for patients and call the patient to remind them of their up-coming appointment. They also assist patients with billing and payments. The dental assistant can be a great help in explaining a patient’s options.

Dental assistants also help with record-keeping for the office. They may be in charge of transcribing notes and keeping patient files. Another important duty is filing insurance claims and then follow-up on those claims. They may order all supplies and materials needed by dentists and the entire office. In some dental offices, a dental secretary will perform these administrative duties.

In helping with patient care, there are several things dental assistants facilitate, such as:

  1. Preparing the patient for their dental procedure
  2. Getting the work area ready for the patient and dentist
  3. Helping the patient to feel comfortable
  4. Sterilizing dental tools needed for procedures
  5. Assisting the dentist by handing them the needed equipment or tools
  6. Using the suction hose during a procedure to help dry a patient’s mouth
  7. Teaching the patient about good oral hygiene
  8. Assisting the dentist with the processing of x-rays
  9. Fulfilling lab tests requested by the dentist

The dental assistant will work in a private dentist’s office where there may be one or two dentists. There’s always the possibility of working in a larger clinic or hospital where several dentists may require the dental assistant’s expertise. 乐乐棋牌 healthcare services are becoming more common and outpatient care facilities also need dental assistants.

Here are some of the other duties dental assistants will help support, especially if they are working in a laboratory:

  1. Make casts of the patient’s teeth and mouth from impressions
  2. Polish and clean appliances that may be removable
  3. Make temporary crowns for patients


It goes without saying that a dental assistant will need to know the names of every tooth in order to properly assist a dentist. Other words that will be important for a dental assistant to know include tooth impaction, abscessed tooth, impression, malocclusion, maxilla, bite wing, and implant.

Wisdom teeth are an example of tooth impaction as they may need to be cut out of the jaw. An abscessed tooth is caused by an infection and can be quite painful. An impression is an imprint of the patient’s teeth to create a cast. Malocclusion is when a patient’s lower and upper teeth are misaligned. Maxilla is the medical term for jaw bone. Bite wing is an x-ray showing both upper and lower teeth. Implants are rods made from titanium used for teeth instead of dentures.

The career of a dental assistant can be a rewarding and fulfilling. Patients appreciate those who go out of their way to help them feel comfortable and relaxed. Dentists also appreciated a good dental assistant that can make their job easier and more efficient. The skills necessary for being a dental assistant are important and may come natural to some.

Interested in learning more about the skills to support a dentist? Do you need to become a dental assistant first? The Dental Assistant training program at Meridian College provides extensive hands-on training including a school externship at a dental office where you will assist the dentist in treating actual patients.

Contact Meridian College today to learn more about becoming a dental assistant.