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Carrington College Blog

In Their Shoes – Dental Assisting

April 5, 2013

Dental AssistingWhen you start your new career it’s important to remember all that you learn at Carrington College California; not just the technical skills aligned with your new profession, but the softer ‘people’ skills that can be so important to your future success in your field.

Let’s examine the work of dental assistants from a different perspective; this feedback is a real patient comment. Davis, in Arizona, shared his experience of a dental assistant whose poor communication skills compounded her nervousness and obviously shaky technical skills.

“I was having a crown fitted; it was my second appointment. During the first appointment the dentist had been assisted by a very capable, and very personable, assistant who did her best to make me feel at ease from the moment I walked in the door. I’m not a great patient – too many bad experiences when I was younger I guess.

At the second appointment, much to my dismay, the dentist was being helped by a different dental assistant. This young lady didn’t smile much, or have anything to say while I got settled in the chair; when she started trying to remove the temporary crown, I knew this would be a long appointment.

Everyone has to gain experience before they perfect their skills, I know that. I wasn’t that concerned as she nervously tugged, pulled and clattered around in my mouth. I admit I did wince every time the instrument slipped and rattled into my good teeth. But I kept silent and let her try to do her job; but after about 5 minutes I had to put my hand up to ask her to give me a second.

After another couple of minutes fighting with my apparently not-so-temporary crown, I tapped out and suggested that maybe the dentist would have more success. She shrugged, dropped the instrument loudly on to the tray and walked off. A couple of minutes later the dentist appeared, and with one sharp twist removed the previously stubborn temporary, before proceeding to fit the permanent crown.

The point of this is not the fact that the young lady couldn’t remove the temporary, it was her attitude and demeanor as she tried that concerned me, and that was why I felt I had to say something to the office manager at the end of the appointment.

I’m very aware that everyone has to start somewhere, and the dentist did inform me that the assistant was not long out of school, but she could have done more to communicate with me throughout the entire process – and frankly she should have known she was beaten before I had to suggest otherwise.”

We all accept that dentistry is not hugely popular with the general public. I don’t know too many people who get up the morning of an appointment and are delighted to be going to the dentist that day, do you?

That’s something that dental assistants, dentists, and anyone who works in the field would do well to remember. 99% of your patients would rather be somewhere else than in that chair! But that’s why great communication and personal skills are just as important to your career as your technical skills with the instruments of your trade.

In your opinion, where did the dental assistant in Davis’ experience go wrong? We’d love to read your comments below.
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