You have the technical skills and training, but what soft skills do you need to elevate your Dental Assistant abilities to the next level?
Let’s start with a question first…
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are generally considered traits or abilities that someone has that relate to work or work function, without being directly related to job function.
Organization is vital as a dental assistant. The organization of a dental assistant will drastically determine their effectiveness to assist a dentist or dental hygienist. It is relatively common for dental assistants to be in charge of preparations for treatments or procedures. Having a hand in these kinds of preparations requires a good dental assistant to be completely prepared once a procedure or treatment begins. They should know where every item is that can be requested by a dentist or dental hygienist respectively.
You may also have to wear many different hats as a dental assistant. There will be times where you must assist with scheduling patients or file organization in management. All of these require effective organization to maintain the office's documentation. This is even more crucial when it comes to temping. If you are temping as a dental assistant and you must assist in managing files then it is even more important to understand how their organization system works.
No dental office wants to bring in a dental assistant only to have the office more disorganized than when they came in.
As a dental assistant, you will have constant interaction with patients. The conversations with patients may vary depending on what is happening at the time. There may be instances where you are helping to check-in patients and you may have to listen to whatever issues they are facing.
As you have probably learned as a dental assistant, there will be times in which the issues they are expressing to you or not exactly dental-related. These can be complaints about traffic, or some people tend to share more personal matters as well.
The important part is to make the patient feel like you are listening to them, understanding them, and empathizing with their situation.
However, there will be many times as well where you will be able to provide advice about improving their oral hygiene. Before giving a direct recommendation to be sure you check with your office leadership team to determine whether or not they are comfortable with you doing so. Some offices prefer only dental hygienists and dentists to give recommendations and advice, while other offices are okay with dental assistants also giving advice.
Dental assistants have a vital role in the success of a dental office. Many dental office owners consider dental assistants to be the heartbeat of their dental office, and those that ensure that the dental office runs smoothly. This means that when a dental assistant is not dependable it can negatively affect the office in a big way.
One of the most important forms of dependability is ensuring that you show up on time at the start of your shift. This relates for both permanent positions that you currently work at, as well as positions that you are temping for.
Nothing will guarantee that you won't be asked back for another temping opportunity from a dental office like not showing up on time.
Another form of dependability that is important is the ability to show up and be prepared and ready to work. We understand that there are going to be some days that you aren't feeling bubbly or happy. However, it is important that your patients feel welcome and understood when they come to your dental office. We always recommend to our dental assistants to be as kind and professional as possible towards all patients. It is important to remember that you truly never know what is going on in someone else's life before they come into that dental office. It is also important to remember that you are helping individuals take care of their oral hygiene and become healthier with each visit and education.
Being around the field of Dentistry for as long as you have been and as long as we have been, we no longer have anxiety or fear when it comes to a dental office.
While also being in the dental industry for so long we know that no anxiety is not a common experience for most patients. A lot of patients have a lot of anxiety when it comes to going to a dental office
. You can read more about how we recommend dental assistants deal with patient anxiety here
A lot of dental anxiety comes from the anticipation of pain from a cleaning, or from not knowing what's happening. While it is commonly up to the dental hygienist and dentist to ensure the most minimal amount of pain occurs to a patient, you can still do your part to help ease their mind and help them relax. This can be through education about what they are there for. If you are confident in your ability to express what a procedure may entail in a calm and non-scary way then it may help a patient.
As we said before, you may not know what a patient is going through before they come in. They could be having one of the best days of their lives or one of the worst. It's always important to treat everybody with the golden rule if you can: treat others how you would like to be treated.