Skills and Habits a Dental Assistant Needs to Have Before They Start

Skills and Habits a Dental Assistant Needs to Have Before They Start
  • Opening Intro -

    A dental assistant works at an office, orthodontic practice, or oral surgical center.

    They do oral cleanings, take x-rays, assist with the dentist on procedures and examinations, and carry out administrative tasks.


According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 300,000 dental assistants currently employed, and that number is only expected to increase over the next decade.

If you’ve been thinking of becoming a dental assistant, there are some skills and habits you need to have before your start. Some of these may come naturally to you while others may need to be practiced and learned.

Customer Service Skills

Customer service is important in any type of industry where you deal with the public. However, it’s especially needed in the medical industry and as a dental assistant.

Most obviously, you’ll be working with the patients every single day. You need to be able to properly communicate with them about scheduled appointments, post-treatment instructions, and care recommendations.

In addition to the expected, however, you need to remember that many of the people coming into the office will be nervous, at least mildly. This means that their tempers will be shorter than usual, and they may react or speak harshly. You need to calm those individuals who have a fear of certain oral procedures.

Sanitation Skills

Maintaining a clean examination space and person is critical in the medical sector. This is especially true when it comes to dentists. If you or your equipment aren’t properly cleaned, you could cause severe problems during or after procedures.

Because of this, you must learn and keep the habit of keeping clean. Wear a mask during all examinations. Also, even though you wear gloves, wash your hands regularly. Furthermore, as a dental assistant, you will need to sterilize all your equipment whether or not the instruments were used.

Troubleshooting Skills

There are moments where your tools or machines will break down unexpectedly. You won’t be able to rely on the dentist or maintenance professionals to get these repaired right away, because they have a lot of other issues to deal with. So, in your role as a dental assistant, you need to have troubleshooting skills to diagnose and resolve issues.

This means you need to know the technology behind these tools ahead of time. Some of this should come through on-the-job training. While you won’t be expected to fix complex machines on your own, you should know how to respond to common errors and issues.


You can’t take on this position without dental assistant training. There are different paths to reach this goal. Depending on a state’s regulations, you may need to pass an exam to graduate from an accredited program. In other situations, the dental assistant training is completed through on-the-job education.

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Desire to Learn

Your education as a dental assistant doesn’t stop when you receive your certificate. Technology and procedures change rapidly within the industry. So, you must have the desire to continue learning. Taking further classes and keeping up-to-date on current studies can make you eligible for promotions and other professional opportunities.

Oral health is an important and often overlooked aspect of a person’s overall health. As a dental assistant, you can help individuals learn better oral hygiene practices and strategies so that they can live healthier and happier lives.

You can also aid dentists in surgeries and other procedures to help correct dental issues in your patients. However, to be a truly successful dental assistant, there are certain skills you need to have. A training program or on-the-job training can help you develop these skills.

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Categories: Career Planning