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At the Dental Assisting Institute of Virginia, we run a successful dental assisting school in Colonial Heights, Virginia. Led by our practicing dentist, Dr. Tom G. Schleicher, in a real dental office, our team has been helping countless promising students begin their journey to a rewarding career in dental assisting. So what are some of the essential skills you should have if you are wanting a career in this field? Let’s take a look!

Manual dexterity: this is vital when you are handling tiny dental instruments where you need to be precise and accurate. You need full range of motion using your wrists, hands and fingers when you are working with clinical and laboratory instruments as well as syringes. You want to make sure you can safely support your patients.

Physical endurance: In addition to being capable of performing your daily tasks during your workday, you need to be able to help patients get settled in and out of the dental chair before and after treatment. You should also know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a patient if needed.

Highly professional: Do you dress properly for the office? Are you articulate and easy to be around? Whether welcoming patients, helping your dental team or working with your dentist, you’ll need good people skills to thrive. Making patients feel comfortable and safe, being a team player with your coworkers, helping the schedule run smoothly, being flexible and able to adapt to your environment to handle anything that comes up are all essential skills to be a good dental assistant.

Sharp thinker: You need to be able to quickly assess anything that may arise and be able to problem-solve when something unusual comes up to keep your patient calm and seamlessly assist your dentist and the dental team.

Good communicator: It’s important to build trust with your patient so they can confidently relax during their time in the office and in the chair. Calmly answering any questions that arise and responding positively to your patient’s needs can make you stand out as a supportive employee who can always be counted on.

A typical day as a dental assistant might involve checking your patient’s chart for their current medical history, ensuring their treatment plan is compatible with their health, preparing a syringe to numb a tooth in the back of the mouth, helping your patient if they have special needs (they are in a wheelchair), are all tasks you need to be able to perform.

Looking forward to your daily work is vital to being a great and effective dental assistant so that you can bring your best self to your job, and that includes a willingness to help others and having empathy and compassion even when you are under stress. Rest assured, these qualities will make you stand out and your patients will appreciate you. If you are excited about a career as a dental assistant, we invite you to call our team at the Dental Assisting Institute of Virginia at 804-526-0231. We look forward to helping you achieve your career goals!