If you read part one of my dental assisting tips, you know any good assistant should show up on time, dressed, and caffeinated. Okay, I made that last one up, but what are some other good tips to help dental assistants be their best? 

We spoke to some of our dental assistants at Princess Dental Staffing to find out what they felt were the most important tips to share. And seeing as this week is dental assistant appreciation week, it's a great topic to explore.

Before we get started, be sure you thank/recognize the multi-talented members of your dental team!

Now, are you ready for some pro tips...? 

1. Provide great patient care

Patient care is a big part of dental assisting. Making the patient feel comfortable is the #1 priority for most dental assistants. As one assistant shared, “the patient in the chair is the most important patient.”

Another assistant shared that she always does what’s best for the patient. That’s another great tip to follow! 

Having amazing people skills will take you a long way in the field of dental assisting. This means having a welcoming attitude towards all patients, being kind and attentive, and offering great communication.

Other things that help create a great customer service experience include: 

  • Communicating with the patient by letting them know what you are doing during their appointment
  • Checking in with the patient to make sure they are okay. 
  • Providing post-op instructions for any procedure. 
  • Talking with the doctor and communicating during the procedure/appointment to make sure the patient gets quality care. 

One other pro tip that will probably score you bonus points with the doctor is to be conservative with materials. By making sure you don’t waste them or use excessive amounts, the office saves on costs and that makes a big difference.

Pro tip: The patient in the chair is the most important patient.

2. Keep one jump ahead

You gotta keep one jump ahead of the doctor. One jump ahead of the brush. These guys don’t appreciate you’re rushed…. 

You gotta think, one jump ahead of the dentist, one jump, and that’s no joke…these guys don’t appreciate you’re broke…


Seriously though…the top tip from our dental assistants is that you should think like the doctor, as if you were the doctor, and pretend to do the procedure in your head so that the instrument to be used next is ready to go before it is actually needed.

Pro Tip: Think ahead during procedures so you’re ready to pass the right instrument.

3. Be willing to learn

No matter how long you've been working in the field, there's always room to grow and improve. That goes for everyone, including the dentist, hygienist, and assistant. One of the best skills to have for any assistant is the willingness to learn. For some, that may mean staying up-to-date on the latest information in the dental field. For others, it may mean being open-minded and willing to help in other areas of the dental practice. Good assistants make themselves indispensable by understanding both the front and back office.

Pro Tip: Consider joining organizations like the ADA, ADAA, or your state dental association to get access to continuing education.

4. Use time wisely

I see many people on their phones these days, and a phone in a dental office can be a big distraction. Being distracted at work reduces productivity and may lead to life-threatening mishaps. Not only that, but nothing makes you more exceptional than how you use your time at the office. Using your time well and productively will definitely be noticed by the doctor and other staff. So think about that before you sit down in the back office and pull out your phone. What else could you do to use your time wisely?

Pro Tip: If you want to impress the office staff, consider doing things like taking out the trash, confirming appointments, or calling patients with incomplete treatment plans.

5. Be positive, prepared, and proactive!

Always be positive when starting work. A positive attitude was one of the key success factors listed by our assistants. For example, if you're on your own with little or no help, think about how it’s a great way to boost your confidence in your own skill and how to handle stressful situations.

Related article: Embrace positive thinking

Always be prepared. Being prepared means thinking ahead about the job. If your job is two hours away from home, pack an extra pair of casual clothes and scrubs in case of accidents. You may also want to pack extra snacks and drinks to keep yourself from buying expensive takeout. 

Be proactive. Listen closely to how the provider educates the patient to keep up-to-date on new treatment options. Watching how other assistants work can help you discover more effective and easier ways to do your job. As one assistant shared, "being able to do your job without breaking a sweat is always my personal goal." If that's your goal too, then be proactive!

Your #1 Dental Assisting Tip

What's you're number one tip for dental assisting? Drop it in a comment on Facebook or YouTube, or share it with us!

Chris Lewandowski

Published March 08, 2023

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