6 Essential Skills Every Dental Assistant Needs

Dental Assistants play an important role when it comes to a patient’s dental care and oral hygiene.

Assisting the Dentist during a number of procedures including cleaning and x-rays, the Dental Assistant must have excellent communication skills and be able to work calmly under pressure.

In order to succeed as a Dental Assistant, you need the right education along with crucial skills and attributes that will allow you to bring value to your dental practice and to your patients.

Below are the 6 essential skills every dental assistant needs to be successful in their career.

But first:

What is involved in being a Dental Assistant?

Curious to know what Dental Assistants do? Awesome! A career as a Dental Assistant is a rewarding one, with plenty of opportunities for growth and making a real difference in the comfort of patients both during and after their dental procedures.

A Dental Assistant will be responsible for assisting the Dentist with dental procedures such as tooth extractions, fillings and crowns. Here are just some of the duties you will be expected to carry out as a Dental Assistant:

  • Greeting the patient and helping them feel at ease
  • Guiding patients in proper oral hygiene
  • Arranging appointments
  • Keeping dental records
  • Performing x-rays
  • Sterilizing dental equipment
  • Preparing Dentist’s work area
  • Handing the correct tools to the Dentist
  • Assisting in office admin tasks such as billing and payment
  • Mixing and pouring dental moulds

Important skills needed as a Dental Assistant

Here are the 6 most important skills required to be a competent Dental Assistant. If you aspire to become a Dental Assistant, keep in mind that the following skills and attributes will help you have a successful and flourishing career.

The right education

While becoming an entry-level Dental Assistant requires no formal education, vocational training is highly recommended and will help give you a foot in the door when applying for entry-level roles. 

You can fast track your career as a Dental Assistant and expand your job prospects by completing a Certificate in Dental Assisting at an accredited education institution such as ICI Australia. 

Organizational skills

A dental practice is high-paced and forever changing. As such, you will need a high degree of organisational skills to be able to stay prepared and adapt to a wide variety of tasks.

Successful Dental Assistants are the ones who demonstrate their preparedness by:

  • Having a patient’s record ready prior to examination
  • Preparing the Dentist’s workstation 
  • Keeping patient records in the right location
  • Ensuring all tools and equipment are in order of use

Interpersonal skills

A Dental Assistant is client-facing, meaning they will be communicating and dealing with patients along with fellow workmates including Dentists, Hygienists and Receptionist staff. 

In order to ensure that all examinations run smoothly and there are no mistakes, a Dental Assistant must be able to communicate clearly and effectively. From acting as a liaison between patient and Dentist to explaining complex subjects to patients as well as maintaining great chairside manners, Dental Assistants are great communicators! 


Working on a patient’s teeth, you cannot afford a lapse in judgement or concentration! Therefore, Dental Assistants must be highly meticulous and able to get everything perfect right down to the tiniest detail.

From being able to read a patient’s behaviour to checking symptoms and ensuring proper sterilization of equipment, every task requires a high degree of professionalism and detail. 


Successful Dental Assistants must be able to juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities at once. 

There are so many things happening at any given time within a dental practice. As a Dental Assistant, you will sometimes be required to foresee tasks that need to be done along with tending to the tasks you have at hand. You will have to have a keen sense of time management and be able to mentally note and remember what tasks require your attention at any given time.

Having great multitasking skills will give you the ability to streamline your tasks and offer patient’s a more swift and comfortable service. 


A lot of people are afraid of the dentist! As a Dental Assistant, you have the chance to comfort patients and to give them the best experience possible so that they aren’t afraid of coming back!

Compassion and empathy are highly valued traits in a Dental Assistant. The best Dental Assistants know how to ease a patient’s nerves and provide a calming presence. 

You need to be able to decipher the difference between a patient being nervous and/or in pain and give them the reassurance they need so that they feel more confident about what to expect. 

Do you have the desire to help?

If Dental Assisting and the act of helping others sounds like something you would love, then take the first step toward your new career today!

Our ICI professionals are here to help you gain the education and skills you need to become a successful Dental Assistant.

Our 24-week online course is self-paced and designed to equip you with all the training you need.

Online, career focused education that suits your lifestyle.

See our courses
Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.