Dental assistants spend the majority of the day interacting with patients and assisting with procedures and dental exams. Working closely with patients and dentists requires a certain set of skills. While Florida National University (FNU) offers a Dental Assistant certificate program to help with the knowledge and terminology required for a dental assistant, there are six skills every dental assistant needs:
1. Organizational Skills
Dental assistants should be organized. When the dentist comes into work on a patient, the correct tools should be in place. Keeping the dental workspace organized and uncluttered is essential to keep things running smoothly. Staying physically organized will also keep your mind organized. When the dentist needs something quickly and you can’t find it, you’ll become flustered and the patient may become concerned. Keeping the examination stations clean and ready for the next patient will allow the dentist to move from patient to patient smoothly throughout the day.
2. Interpersonal Skills
Many people don’t like going to the dentist. Whether if it’s a routine cleaning or surgery for a root canal, visiting the dentist can cause anxiety in some patients. When patients are in pain or uncomfortable, they will be looking to someone for comfort. Showing sympathy to the patient is important for any dental assistant.
Interpersonal skills also include being a team player. Since dental assistants are in constant contact with both the dentist and the patient, working well with others is pertinent. Working well with others will ensure the procedure will be done as quickly and as painless as possible.
3. Professional Appearance
The dental assistant is often the first and last person a patient sees at the dentist’s office. With that being said, all dental assistants should keep a clean and professional appearance. You may be in close contact with patients and dentists in tight rooms, so good hygiene is a requirement for a dental assistant. The patient should be able to trust you in personal situations, so create an appearance they will appreciate.
4. Listening Skills
Dental assistants must have good listening skills. When you are talking with a patient, you need to know their issues and concerns. Since you need to relay this to the dentist, you will need to pay close attention to their needs. You will also need to listen closely to the dentist’s instructions. While knowledge of tools and operations are important, a dental assistant will still need to listen and follow direction.
5. Communication Skills
Communication skills and listening skills go hand in hand. A dental assistant must have good communication skills because you are the primary contact between patient and dentist. Once you’ve heard the patient’s issues and concerns, you will need to relay this information to the dentist. The dental assistant and dentist will need to communicate during the patient’s visit, so knowledge of terminology will be extremely helpful. Both verbal and non-verbal communication are important skills for any dental assistant.
Dental assistants generally work in tight areas using smaller precise tools and instruments, so you must be good at working with your hands. You will often have sharp tools in a patients’ mouth and if the patient happens to move, you will need to control your movements with theirs. Controlling the hands and fingers in conjunction with the eyes is essential for every dental assistant.
Florida National University Dental Assistant Certificate Program
Ready to become a dental assistant? FNU’s Dental Assistant Certificate program prepares students for entry-level employment as dental assistants and dental auxiliaries. Graduates from the program may apply to take the Certified Dental Assistant Examination given by the Dental Assisting National Board. Contact FNU at 305-821-3333 for more information on our Dental Assistant Certificate program.