The fact that dental assistants are essential to the dental office perhaps has never been clearer. Especially in the context of the pandemic, dental teams and patients have seen firsthand the critical role dental assistants play in the office, particularly in the areas of 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? These 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 providing patient care, assistants also must have a positive attitude, strong communication skills, empathy, patience, and more. Ultimately, if the patient leaves satisfied with their dental care and treatment, and feels motivated to come back to the office, then the appointment was a successful one. The best dental assistants keep this fact at top of mind from start to finish of 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 yous” received from patients for a job well done fill my heart with gratitude.”
Commitment to teamwork
Of course, delivering the best patient care isn’t the dental assistant’s responsibility alone. That’s why it’s important for dental assistants to be able to work seamlessly with everyone on the dental team, including the front desk personnel, the hygienists and the dentists, to be able to meet patients’ needs expertly and efficiently throughout the appointment. A dental assistant is akin to a mind reader—able to anticipate what’s needed from each patient every step of the way—and to the ultimate team player, not only in caring for the patient, but also in supporting his or her colleagues.
Elaine B., CDA, always strives to be a contributing teammate and feels grateful to work among collaborative coworkers who have this same goal. “Every single person at my office is always willing to pitch in and do what needs to be done.”
Willingness to learn
Successful dental assistants also recognize that the dental field is an ever evolving one, and to best serve patients, they must always keep a finger on the pulse on the latest information in the field. To that end, many dental assistants are motivated to complete continuing dental education, such as the online options available through the DALE Foundation, the official affiliate of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), 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 are also aware that leadership is championed in the dental office. So those who seek out opportunities to step up and fill any 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 professionals.
In fact, one of the main benefits of holding DANB certification is being able to highlight your drive and initiative, and your employer, coworkers, and patients are likely to take notice.
Natalie K., CDA, COA, CPFDA, CRFDA, CDPMA, COMSA, agrees that holding DANB certification is essential for any dental assistant committed to going further in their career. “Holding DANB certification is a sign of achievement and fosters professional growth. As a career dental assistant, I feel every dental assistant should become DANB certified, maintain their certification, and use the credentials proudly.”
Learn more about DANB certification
DANB’s exams and certifications are recognized or required by 37 states, the District of Columbia, the US Air Force, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Earning DANB certification can help you meet state requirements, including qualifying to perform expanded functions and additional duties. To learn more about DANB exams and certification, visit danb.org.
Prepare for DANB exams with DALE Foundation resources
The DALE Foundation offers online review courses and practice tests to help dental assistants study for DANB exams, earn dental assisting certification and continue their education. To explore the product catalog, visit dalefoundation.org.