Fourteen Things To Look Out For When Hiring A Dental Assistant

There are a number of things that you need to ensure upon when hiring new team members to work at your Dental Practice as part of your back-office team.

Some people consider the role of the dental assistant to be one of the “lesser” roles in the dental office.

However, the dental assistant plays an integral role in the total functionality of a dental office offering World Class Customer Service and an Ultimate Patient Experience.

Here are a few things you need to consider when interviewing for a Dental Assistant to join your team:

Can they look after your patients?

Are they the kind of person who prides themselves on the care that they show for another human being?

Some Dental Assistants behave as if the patient is disposable, and easily replaceable. These dental assistants are the ones who leave patients alone in treatment rooms, and they also fail to engage in conversations with the patients.

Patients need to always be made to feel welcomed, comfortable, important and understood.

A great dental assistant needs to manage these four expectations for their patients.

Work Within Systems

Is this dental assistant able to work within well-constructed systems and protocols?

Are they comfortable conforming to new systems that they may not be familiar with?

A new employee’s ability to be able to adapt and settle in to a new way of doing things is an important consideration. After all, your systems have been developed for a reason.

Treatment room set-ups and tear-downs, including instrument flow.

The ability of a team member to efficiently and correctly set up a treatment room for the next patient, to the standards expected, is an inherent part of the success of the dental practice.

The understanding of the purpose of what needs to be where, and when, is very important.

Time wasted in gathering things and in time taken in excess, can never be recaptured. It is lost forever.

And that time is money.

Conducting perfect handovers.

The ability to understand the purpose of the perfect patient handover, and the importance of the congruity of each and every step, is paramount.

Poor handover protocols result in confused patients who lack clarity about what their next step needs to be.

These patients then tend to fail to make their next appointment or they cancel their next appointment.

And this is neither good for the patient or for the dental practice.

Talking treatment with patients.

A great dental assistant knows how to talk treatment with patients. They know what to say to patients at which moments that will put the patient at ease about their decision to have the treatment completed.

A good dental assistant understands what will happen to the patient if they fail to complete their treatment.

A great dental assistant sees herself as an integral member of the dental team when it comes to helping patients understand their next appointments.

Preparing for, and participating in daily huddles.

The daily huddle is an integral part of the successful dental practice.

The purpose of the huddle is to introduce each guest to the team and discuss the service we intend to provide to that guest based upon who they are, what they are having done, and what we have done for them in the past.

Our knowledge of each guest as a person is paramount. It is more important than what treatment they are having done.

Stock control.

A great Dental Assistant knows the importance of a well-maintained stock of trade.

They never over-order supplies.

And they never run short.

Laboratory work flow and audits.

The flow of dental laboratory work is important in the day to day and week to week functionality of the patient.

Dental laboratory work needs to be well and truly in our practice before the patient arrives. Preferably days before.

Last minute rushing is never a good look, and is to be avoided.

Working with a templated appointment book.

A templated appointment book provides for a well-structured day that produces a handsome collection goal with minimal fuss and disruption.

On the other hand, an appointment book without structure produces stressful days of variable results.

A great dental assistant knows the difference and helps to work towards the well-balanced structure.

Conducting social conversations with people from a variety of ages and occupations.

The ability to be able to hold conversation with a variety of people of different ages, genders, occupations, religions, and ethnicities is a very important asset.

Knowing what to say, and to whom, as a conversation starter and as a conversation continuer, is a learnt skill.

It is easy to master for those willing to learn.

Following up on any comments or tasks given by the dentist.

Sometimes the dental assistant is asked to help the dentist to remember an upcoming task or event or action that the dentist needs to perform.

A great dental assistant is attuned to this role, and performs the role well.

Keeping essential statistics for end of day.

A great dental assistant knows the targets and goals that the practice sets itself, and performs her duties with the intention of helping the practice achieve its goals.

Maintaining a tidy and clean environment in the treatment rooms as well as in the steri area and stock areas.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Our patients will judge our dentistry on how clean, and how neat and tidy our dental treatment rooms and dental facility are kept.

There is no silver medal for dental cleanliness.

Planning the next day, week, month and year.

 A great dental assistant knows what next week and next month and next year need to look like for the dentist and for the dental practice.

And she goes about her day with these purposes in mind.


There’s a whole lot more to being a dental assistant, and a great dental assistant, than most people think.

Ultimately, a great dental assistant is a team player.


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