How to Be a Better Dental Assistant

Here are some secrets to success in the field of dental assisting

If you’re studying to be a dental assistant, you’ll receive the technical skills and training you need to perform your responsibilities. But excelling at this job requires more than just know-how—it’s also about customer service and being sensitive to the needs of those around you.

Here we’ve provided some tips on the soft skills that, once you’re out in the field, can help you be truly effective in your chosen career…and be a healthier individual all around!

1. Take good care of yourself

It might not seem obvious, but one of the best things you can do in this role is to look after your own health first. Eat well, do some sort of daily exercise, and make sure you get quality sleep. The best dental assistants are bright and refreshed each day and ready to work—not run down after staying out late or feeling lethargic from eating and drinking too much. When you work in the healthcare field, you’ll find you can only truly do your best in taking care of others if you’re taking great care of yourself.

2. Help your patients relax

As a dental assistant, you’ll be faced time and again with nervous and anxious patients, and handling these individuals can make your job challenging. Everything goes more quickly and smoothly for you, the hygienist, and the dentist when a patient is relaxed, so part of your job will be to help the patient to find a calm place in that dentist’s chair. Let your patients know it’s okay to close their eyes, or even to fall asleep! Talk softly and help your patients focus on a relaxing image or story. For some patients, keeping the tray of dental instruments out of sight can help avoid unnecessary anxiety. It’s largely up to you to find ways to have a calming effect.

3. Find your own ways to relax

Given that part of your responsibilities are to help your patients relax, practice what you preach! Take time to discover what helps you relax when you’re not at work. Maybe it’s spending time in nature, reading a book, scrapbooking, or sitting in meditation. There are many ways to calm your mind, and practicing getting into a centered place can help you stay calm amidst any anxious people or situations at work.

4. Always be prepared

Get to know as many routine procedures as possible and pay attention to the specific way your dentist likes things done: the flow they prefer to the workday as well as their likes, dislikes, and expectations. Try to stay a step ahead, so you can anticipate the dentist’s next move and have everything ready before you’re asked.

No one wants to have to endure a bad day at the dentist—least of all, you! These suggestions can help with the preparation for that first job. Being new at a job can feel daunting, but career guidance is built into the training program of the American College for Medical Careers in Orlando, FL, so you’ll be ready to start your new profession with confidence. Good luck as you take steps towards a career in this important aspect of healthcare!


This article is part of the weekly blog of the American College for Medical Careers. Explore the possibilities we offer with our professional training programs by contacting us for more information.