6 Soft Skills You Need as a Dental Assistant

dental assistant with patient
dental assistant with patient

6 Soft Skills You Need as a Dental Assistant

Dental assistants are often the first treatment professional that a patient interacts with during an appointment. They’re responsible for tasks like recordkeeping, taking x-rays and impressions, and preparing patients for oral surgery and other procedures.

While you need a solid foundation of technical skills to be a Dental Assistant, you also need to have the right soft skills. Check out the 6 soft skills you’ll need to succeed as a Dental Assistant. Which do you already possess, and which would you need to hone?

1. Interpersonal Skills

You’ll interact with people all day long. That requires excellent interpersonal skills, especially when it comes to the patient experience. You will be expected to greet patients in a friendly manner, show sensitivity toward patients who might be nervous about their appointment and solve problems quickly and professionally.

2. Dependability

Dentists rely on Dental Assistants to help keep the dental office running smoothly and keep patients satisfied. That means you need to show up to every shift on time, professionally dressed, and ready to work. You need a great attitude, a pleasant demeanor, and a good smile—even if it’s covered by a mask. If you aren’t reliable, it can affect the operation of the entire dental office.

3. Compassion for Patients

Many patients are fearful of the dentist, and sometimes even routine procedures can cause them anxiety. Whether you greet patients at the front desk or prepare a patient for a dental procedure, you need compassion and empathy. Do your best to put patients at ease and help them have the best experience possible.

4. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is critical to good dental care. Especially with regard to cleanliness and sterilization procedures, shoddy work or mistakes can lead to serious consequences. But you also need to pay attention when you schedule appointments, take X-rays, set up for procedures, update records, and assist the dentist chairside.

5. Strong Communication Skills

Strong communication skills will help you better serve the patients in your office, whether you’re behind the chair or behind the desk. Throughout your day, you’ll need to communicate with patients, their families, dentists, hygienists, receptionists, and insurance companies. You’ll need to listen, understand, and be able to accurately relay information to the appropriate people. Listening skills are especially important when a dentist gives you directions, like which x-rays a patient needs, or which tools you'll need to set up for an upcoming procedure.

6. Interest in Dentistry

If you’re going to be successful as a Dental Assistant, you need to have a keen interest in dentistry. When you’re interested in the field, you’re much more likely to remember important terminology, understand complex dental procedures, and be able to effectively explain treatments to patients, all of which will make you a more confident provider.


Think you would make a great Dental Assistant? Take the next step by enrolling in the Dental Assisting Program at YTI Career Institute in York. Our program combines online lectures with traditional on-campus lab instruction and an externship that provides hands-on training in a real dental office or clinic. Learn more about the Dental Assisting Program online, or apply today.