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  • Writer's pictureJulie, Dental Assistant

Dental Assistant Characteristics: What are yours?

When I was born, I'm sure that after my parents looked at me, their first thought wasn't "Someday she is going to make an amazing Dental Assistant." Nope, not even close. They had thoughts about my personality, who I would look like, what characteristics/habits and much more I would develop. What or who I would develop into over the course of my childhood was up in the air.

Julie, Third Grade

Over the course of our life time, we are influenced by events, people and things that develop our characteristics, habits, personality or beliefs that make you you! We are all different and for that reason that is what makes us unique. Being unique is what every Dental Assistant is about. No two Dental Assistants are alike. Say it again " No two Dental Assistants are alike. "

Now, I am not the most scholar writer out there, I just write from the heart. However it comes out on paper, is what I go with. As many of us currently have some time on our hands, I decided to really over haul my Dental Assistant career. To evaluate what I am about and what characteristics make me... me, the Dental Assistant of 28 years.


As a Dental Assistant things are constantly changing. I believe that we need to learn how to adapt to the current situation at hand. Change is hard, but how we adapt and react to it is what matters the most. This was the first time in my career that I was unemployed, not chairside everyday or in an office. I honestly the first couple of days didn't know what to do with myself as my routine was disrupted. Time for a change.


One can say sometimes getting started in the field as a Dental Assistant is not an easy task. Finding the right office, the right hours and having someone just give you a chance because you lack experience can be frustrating. Be assertive with the drive to get what you want out of your career, that's key. Should we just give up on being a Dental Assistant because we were rejected from the first job we applied Just keep putting yourself out there, remember to focus on what you want not how they want you to be.


Do you know what your learning style is? Often when we accept a new position or need to learn something new, we may struggle depending on how the information is delivered. Knowing what type of learner you are, helps others to know how to deliver material for your success. I am a huge fan of the VARK Model, to determine the learning style. I am a visual and kinesthetic, which means seeing and hands-on learner. I do put this on my resume and also make sure that when I do interview I make them aware. What kind of learner are you?


We are all motivated by different things in life but without ambition that motivation is not there. Be a go-getter and goal-setter in your career. You want that raise or new office, make a plan, get up and go get it. Dental offices want dental assistants with drive, passion, to take the lead, be one step ahead and want to thrive chairside. Find your ambition, it's in you. I am ambitious to be better than the day before and to help others, this motivates me.


This word can mean several things. For me it means, receiving constructive criticism, owning mistakes and that someone can come to you anytime without hesitation. Trust me, I have made my share of mistakes in Dental Assisting, had to put my tale between my legs and own it. It is hard, I feel you. But we learn from it. This also means that if you're approachable, it shouldn't open a door for someone to nit-pick, or peck at you all day long, for that is not an ok behavior. There is a difference.


Yes, extrude confidence but in the humble manner way not the know it all vibe. Even if it is your first day as a Dental Assistant or your 20th year, hold your head up, smile and walk tall (posture matters). We don't know it all, so we shouldn't act like we do (I learn something every day still). Be confident in your skills, so that you can help others be confident in theirs. We can all learn from each other. Remember, nobody likes a know it all.


As a child, I would get in trouble often for asking to many questions, but it never shut me up. I am an engineer at heart, I like to know how things work and why. I was the type of child that when the VCR broke, I would take it all apart and put it back together. My thought is if we don't ask, we may never know. If we don't know, then we have set our self up for failing at things. It's ok to ask questions and lots of them. Especially if you are learning something new or just switched from a general to periodontic office. To know is to grow.


You are probably thinking..what no way. Yes, voice your opinions or concerns in a professional and polished mannerism, that gets someone to see your point of view. Have I always done this, nope. Open mouth, insert foot has happened to me several time throughout my career. I have learned when and how to convey my message without it coming off wrong. Still at times, I have to think before I speak my opinion.


When I was 18, I became pregnant and had to now think about another person but myself. I only had a year of Hygiene school under my belt, when someone said "Become a Dental Assistant." So off I went to find and land my first dental assisting job. Boy, was it work, heck I didn't even know what a resume was. Being resourceful uses tools like thinking outside the box, being one step ahead, and a great problem solver. Make a list of your tools that you can use to be resourceful. What's in your tool belt?


No matter how many times we get knocked down or fail at something, Dental Assistants always get back up. We need to forge forward and learn from our failures, that is what makes us better than the day before. Once we lick our wounds, it's time to put a plan into place for recovery for growth and success of our career. There were often times in my career that I failed at things, too many to count. I would step back, take time to reevaluate, reset and recharge my purpose with a new plan of action.

No matter if you have one or all of the characteristics listed above, remember to always be an authentic you. Can you improve on these character traits? Sure why not, we all have room for improvement, no one is perfect. I surely am not, and never claim to be. Improvement can be in the form of reading, classes, self care or surrounding yourself with ones that make you better everyday. No matter how you define your success, or decide what characteristics you value, remember it's your path and your journey. Stay Amazing.

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