Ready to begin a rewarding career as a dental assistant? You’ll likely receive plenty of hands-on and classroom tutorials in any dental assistant training program. However, there also are many everyday tools that you won’t necessarily pick up during your tutorials that may help you excel as a dental assistant.
So what does it take to succeed as a dental assistant day after day? Here are five tools you’ll need to thrive as a dental assistant:
1. Strong motor skills
Gross and fine motor skills are paramount for dental assistants, as these professionals are responsible for handling small instruments with accuracy and precision.
Also, dental assistants must maintain full dexterity of their arms, wrists, hands and fingers – and for good reason. These professionals need to be able to use clinical and laboratory instruments and syringes properly at all times. And with strong fine and gross motor control, a dental assistant can ensure that he or she can provide safe, effective patient support consistently.
2. Physical endurance
Dental assistants require sufficient physical strength to help patients in a number of ways, including:
• Ensuring a patient can get in and out of a dental chair.
• Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a patient for an extended period of time.
• Being able to move across a dental office freely.
Ultimately, physical endurance ensures a dental assistant is equipped to perform his or her daily responsibilities over the course of several hours. And with sufficient strength, a dental assistant should have no trouble helping patients day after day.
3. Professional attitude
For today’s dental assistants, maintaining a professional, positive attitude can help them create a comfortable setting for patients.
As part of a professional attitude, dental assistants must be willing to remain flexible and adapt to their patients’ requests as needed. In addition, acting and dressing professionally helps a dental assistant make a positive first impression on a patient and may help set the foundation for a long-lasting partnership.
4. Cognitive skills
Are you a good problem-solver? If not, you may struggle at times, as dental assistants must possess cognitive skills that allow them to look beyond the surface of a problem and explore multiple potential solutions simultaneously.
Strong cognitive skills can help differentiate a good dental assistant from a great one. Because a top-notch dental assistant is committed to constantly building his or her skill set and learning new things, this professional likely with thrive if he or she harnesses cognitive skills to problem-solve.
5. Communication skills
How a dental assistant interacts with a patient says a lot about this professional’s ability to build trust with patients.
For example, a dental assistant who ignores a patient’s questions or is unprepared to deal with patient queries may struggle due to a lack of consistent communication skills.
On the other hand, a dental assistant who focuses on performing his or her job well and responds to patients’ needs continuously can use his or her communication skills to provide outstanding support to patients every day.