How to be a better dental assistant

There are always ways to become a better dental assistant.After earning a dental assistant degree and entering the working world, it’s important to constantly be looking for ways to improve patient care and be the best dental assistant you can be. While dental assistant school will give you the tools you need to be successful, it’s up to you to continually look for ways to improve patient care and help the office run smoothly.

Obtain licensure

While it is not required by all states, obtaining certification and/or licensure will not only help you find a job, it will also test you on the skills you need to be a better dental assistant. To become certified, you will need to take the Certified Dental Exam given by the Dental Assisting National Board. This can only be done after you graduate from an accredited dental assisting program and become CPR certified.1 Some states may also require you to be licensed with the DANB.2

Continually look for ways to help

When you have down time while on the job, continually look for ways to learn and help patients, hygienists and dentists. There’s always something more that can be done, whether it’s sterilizing instruments, organizing your area or engaging patients in conversation to put them at ease. Remember: You are being paid to work, and constantly looking for ways that you can contribute to making the office run smoothly will make you a better dental assistant.3

Have a positive attitude

No one wants to work with someone who has a negative attitude, so always strive to project positivity and be a team player. Patients will appreciate interacting with dental assistants who clearly love their jobs. Work will also be a more pleasant place to be if everyone is constantly looking for ways to help each other and remain cheerful throughout the day.4

Strive for patience

During your career as a dental assistant, there may be times when you are confronted by patients who have had unpleasant experiences at the dentist’s office. This can be challenging, particularly if the patient is irritable. However, it is your job as a dental assistant to put these individuals at ease and help them feel more comfortable with the situation in which they find themselves. While it can be frustrating, the best dental assistants are up for the challenge.5

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Dental Assistants,’ June 26, 2012 – http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm#tab-4
2 Dental Assisting National Board, ‘Search by State,’ 2013 – http://www.danb.org/Meet-State-Requirements/State-Specific-Information.aspx
3 Hahn, Dr. Christian W., Successful Dental Assisting, ‘Dental Assisting Tips – The Little Things Matter Most,’ Oct. 6, 2010 – http://highestpaiddentalassistant.com/dental-assisting-the-little-things-matter-most/
4 U.S. News, ‘Best Healthcare Jobs: Dental Assistant,’ 2012 – http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/dental-assistant
5 Safani, Barbara, Aol Jobs, ‘Dental Assistant: Is It a Good Career Choice for You?’ Feb. 6, 2010 – http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2010/02/06/dental-assistant-is-it-a-good-career-choice-for-you/