Characteristics of Dental Assistants: Is It for You?

Creative Commons image by Judy Baxter.
Creative Commons image by Judy Baxter.

Dental assisting is a growing and thriving career option in the healthcare field. More and more people are understanding the importance of good dental care, the baby boomers are aging and needing more dental work than before, and more adults and children may be obtaining dental insurance as a rider along with their mandated health insurance. In addition, there are many specialty dental offices serving patients with a variety of needs, and they all need dental assistants!

While dental assisting can be an excellent career choice for many, there are some people who might be exceptionally well-suited for this type of job. Look at this list of characteristics and see if you might make a great dental assistant!

Outgoing and friendly.
Are you naturally outgoing and do you find other people interesting? Working in this facet of healthcare means that you will need to be ready to make conversation with people who come into the office. Some topics will revolve around dental care and oral hygiene, but sometimes, you will simply need to make small talk. If you consider yourself friendly and easy to talk to, then this might be the career for you.

Reassuring and calm.
Some patients will be nervous and apprehensive, and it will be your job to help these patients relax. Also, sometimes patients will come in with a toothache, which can make even the nicest patient a bit short-tempered and upset. If you have a calming bedside demeanor, this can help your patients feel better. This, in turn, allows the dentist to work more efficiently and effectively.

Good with your hands.
You will need a good bit of manual dexterity in order to properly assist the dentist with complicated procedures. A lot of what you will be doing is providing the dentist with the instruments that he or she needs quickly and smoothly.

Precise and detail-oriented.
Part of your job will be to be sure that the dental instruments are properly bagged, sterilized and set up on dental trays. There is no room for error when it comes to sterilization techniques, so you will need to be able to focus on following protocols and procedures exactly.

Flexible and adaptable.
Sometimes things will not go as planned, and you will have to be able to work with flexibility. For example, if a patient calls who is in a lot of pain, he or she might be told to come to the office immediately. You might have to take your lunch later than expected or stay a bit late on short notice in this instance. Another consideration is that two or more dentists in the same office might prefer to have instruments handed to them in different ways, or for you to set up trays differently from one another. Being able to go with the flow and adapt to different styles is essential to being a valued dental assistant.

If these characteristics describe you and your working style, then you might really enjoy the challenging and rewarding career of dental assisting. At Sunrise School of Dental Assisting, we can answer your questions and get you set up on your path toward a career in this exciting field.