The fact that dental assistants are essential to the dental office perhaps has never been clearer.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, dental teams and patients have seen the critical role dental assistants play — particularly in providing patient care and ensuring that infection control protocols are followed.

It’s true: Dental offices and patients need dental assistants. But what do dental assistants need? Here are just a few of the qualities that help dental assistants bring value to the dental practice.


Patient care skills

Successful dental assistants share a passion for working with and helping others. To excel in the key area of patient care, assistants must also have a positive attitude, strong communication skills, empathy, patience and more.

Ultimately, if a patient leaves satisfied with their treatment and motivated to come back to the office, then you can count the appointment as successful. The best dental assistants keep this fact in mind during a patient’s visit.

“I love being a dental assistant, as I have for many years,” says Roberta F., CDA. “In particular, the smiles and thank-you’s received from patients for a job well done fill my heart with gratitude.”


Commitment to teamwork

Of course, delivering patient care isn’t the dental assistant’s responsibility alone. That’s why it’s important for dental assistants to work seamlessly with everyone on the dental team — including front desk personnel, hygienists and dentists — throughout the appointment.

A dental assistant is akin to a mind reader, able to anticipate what’s needed every step of the way. Whether caring for a patient or supporting colleagues, dental assistants are the ultimate team players.

Elaine B., CDA, always strives to be a contributing teammate and says she is grateful to work among collaborative co-workers who share the same goal: “Every single person at my office is always willing to pitch in and do what needs to be done.”

Plenty of dental professionals — including dentists — can speak to the importance of teamwork and the value of dental assistants on the team. “Dental emergencies are a team effort, and dentists must be able to rely on their teams,” shares John R., D.M.D. “Dental assistants are important. Dentists need their outstanding dental assistants to be fully trained and ready to provide critical guidance, as well as make critical patient safety contributions. Thank you, dental assistants.”


Willingness to learn

Successful dental assistants also recognize that dentistry is ever-evolving. To best serve patients, they must keep a finger on the pulse of the dental field. To that end, many dental assistants are motivated to complete continuing dental education — such as online options from the DALE Foundation — and pursue DANB certification, to best demonstrate their knowledge to their colleagues and patients.

“After 40 years of service as a practicing clinician and seven years as a college-level dental assisting educator, I tell my students this regularly: You ARE important, and you MUST continue growing and learning,” says Bonnie B., CDA.


Drive and initiative

Dental assistants also know that leadership is championed in the dental office. Those who seek out opportunities to fill needs in the dental office — through cross-training to work at the front desk, for example — are seen as going above and beyond, thus standing out as the ultimate dental professional.

“Sometimes being a dental assistant requires doing more work — but when it benefits the patients and practice, this pays off,” says Gina M. “And your teammates and employer will most likely take notice.”

Marcia A. agrees that for those who are dedicated, their career path can be a road to success: “For 28 years, I’ve gone many, many extra (extra, extra, extra) miles — and it has always been worth it.”


What else would you add to this list? Contact us.