Part 1 

Looking for dental assisting tips to help you become a better assistant

To start, you may want to check out our dental assistant skills checklist. Beyond that, you may want to know what dental assistants working in the field think are the most important tips of the trade. 

You’re in luck because we asked a few of our best dental assistants to share their top dental assisting tips. And you might be surprised at how many of these pro tips have nothing to do with the work of being a dental assistant. 

Hopefully, these will help you land (and keep) your dream dental assistant job.

Tip 1: Be on time 

Being on time was, by far, the most important tip all our dental assistants shared.

If you can’t be early, at least be punctual. 

However, if you can’t show up on time, the next best thing is to call the office or office manager to let them know you’re running late. 

Interestingly, some of our assistants felt like a text wasn’t enough. If you’re going to be late, their opinion was, you better call! 

Pro tip: Show up earlier than requested.

Tip #2: Show up dressed!

That’s right; it’s always good to show up, well, dressed…

And by that, we mean clean scrubs in good condition. This is a must for any dental assistant wanting to look the part (a.k.a. professional).

Related Post: Dental Assistant Work Attire

Tip #3: Be a team player

There’s nothing worse than a dental assistant who doesn’t play nice with the rest of the dental staff. Being a team player means having a positive attitude, being accountable, taking responsibility for your actions, adapting to quickly changing situations, and committing to the entire team's goals. Asking for feedback and volunteering for tough assignments are also some ways to show you're a team player.

Pro tip: According to Forbes, being a team player is one of the top 10 most in-demand skills for the next 10 years. It’s not going away… 

Related: The Top 10 Most In-Demand Skills For The Next 10 Years

Tip #4: Ask Questions

Believe it or not, the ability to ask questions is a key to your success as a dental assistant. The worst thing you can do is pretend you know something when you really don’t. It’s so important to be honest if you're unfamiliar with a procedure and ask questions if you’re unsure. It’s so much better to ask questions rather than trying to do something you don’t know enough about.

Pro tip: Be sure to pay attention to the answer. Stay engaged, don’t interrupt, and keep eye contact while something’s being explained.

Tip #5: Be a clear communicator

Clear communication goes hand-in-hand with tip #4. Communication is an important part of any job, but especially dental assisting. And it’s also among the top 10 most in-demand skills employers are looking for.

Communication encompasses your interactions with other staff members as well as patients. Active listening is something every dental assistant should work on. Understanding non-verbal cues, such as body language, gestures, tone of voice, and facial expression, is vital to your success.

When working with patients, be sure to communicate with the patient by letting them know what you are doing during their appointment and also checking in with them to make sure they are okay throughout the process. 

Related Post: Improving Communication in the Dental Office

Tip #6: Be friendly

Friendliness is a skill that can be learned. Start by smiling! Show interest in others and offer sincere appreciation when they do something nice or helpful. 

Using people’s names, especially for patients, shows them you genuinely care for them. Avoid criticisms, snarky comments, or complaints.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to smile!


That’s six tips from professional dental assistants. We share more dental assisting tips in part 2 of this series.

Chris Lewandowski

Published February 22, 2023

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