What Does a Career As a Dental Assistant Look Like?

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Do you love working with people? Is the idea of working in a dentist’s office appealing to you? Then you may consider learning the skills you need to be a part of a dental care team. In this field, you could enjoy a variety of responsibilities requiring a combination of both technical and interpersonal skills. Working as a dental assistant can give you the opportunity to work side by side with a dentist as part of a dental care team, as well as provide patients with the tools and knowledge they need to achieve good oral hygiene, assisting them throughout their appointments and after procedures. The work dental assistants can also have a big impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of the dentist office. Read on to learn more about what makes an effective dental assistant and how they contribute to dental care!

What Technology Do Dental Assistants Use?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for dental assistants is projected to grow by 11.2 percent between 2018 and 2028 in the U.S.. In this growing industry, dental offices are looking for professionals to assist in managing their practices. Dental Assistants are responsible for a broad range of tasks around the office. Technical work ranges from taking and developing X-rays, digital x-rays and taking casts of a patient’s teeth. Dental assistants can also take heart rate and blood pressure readings of patients and gather information on their medical history. dental assistant showing teeth x-rays They also work with the dentist during diagnostic, operative, and preventative procedures. This can include preparing the dentist’s workspace and passing them instruments during procedures. Dental assistants are responsible for ensuring the office they work in is a hygienic and safe place for everyone in it. By sterilizing instruments and keeping the workspace sanitary, they are responsible for preventing the spread of infection.

What Interpersonal Skills Do Dental Assistants Need?

While technical work is important, a lot of what dental assistants do involves working closely with patients. Building trusting relationships with patients is a critical part of the job. As a point of contact with patients, dental assistants work to:
  • Make sure patients are comfortable at the office
  • Provide information about dental hygiene and treatment post procedure
  • Handle administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling, billing, patient registration (both paper and computer versions using software like Dentrix), and answering phones
dental assistant talking with patient A study from the Dental Auxiliary Learning and Education (DALE) Foundation found that 97% of dentists and office managers believe that good dental assistants contribute to patient retention. The same study found that 91% believe that an effective dental assistant aids in a patient accepting the treatment recommended by the dentist. Dental appointments can be stressful for patients, but by interacting so closely with them, answering their questions and listening to them, dental assistants can make patients feel like a priority. As a dental assistant, you can positively impact patients and keep them coming back by building meaningful relationships with them.

How Do Dental Assistants Impact Productivity in Their Office

The work dental assistants do impacts more than just patients. They are part of the larger team that makes up the office, and play an essential role in its functioning. By assisting in both dental procedures and administrative duties, dental assistants can increase the productivity of the office. The study from the DALE foundation found that dental assistants allow dentists to see patients faster, leading to a more efficient and productive office. Effective dental assistants lead to improved teamwork and overall effectiveness of team members. About 86% of dentists surveyed in the study said that dental assistants help prevent dentists from becoming burnt out.

What Traits Make a Good Dental Assistant?

Now that you know what they do, you may be wondering what traits make a dental assistant effective? According to dentists and office managers surveyed, the following traits are important to being an effective dental assistant:
  • Having good patient care skills
  • Being a team player
  • Being willing to learn
  • Taking ownership of work
  • Showing initiative
Dental assistants fill a critical role in a dentist’s office and have a hand in many parts of the industry. They are the first friendly face you will see when coming into the dental practice! If you want to get a start in dental assisting, contact us for more information about our Dental Assisting Program and learn how to apply! If you want to learn more, check out our dental assisting program at a glance.
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