Belle DuCharme

CDPMA, Dental Training Consultant

What makes the “right fit” in a dental assistant?

Before recruiting a dental assistant for your dental practice, it is vital that detailed job description and a Practice Procedural Manual or Employee Policy Manual is available.  The two documents serve as written documentation of the standards by which you are employing staff and their responsibilities to delivering care to your patients.

Hiring an experienced, skilled, and licensed/certified dental assistant should be the goal.  “Do I have to hire a certified assistant?” you ask. According to the Dental Assistants National Board, or DANB (, the reasons for hiring a certified assistant are as follows:

  1. Surveys done show that dental assistants holding certification have been with the same employer for more than eight years.  Loyalty is a plus because it means cost savings with reduced turnover, and patients are happier seeing the same trusted assistant.
  2. DANB certified assistants are more likely to perform critical duties and contribute more to practice productivity and efficiency.
  3. Certified dental assistants are more apt to consider their work a valuable career instead of a job. They are taking their positions seriously by being committed to the success of the practice and to furthering their education in dentistry.

The licensing or certification requirements for dental assistants vary from state to state, so a formal education or certification may not always be required, but it certainly is a plus to the practice.  

Many dental assistants receive hands-on training while employed in a dental practice.  The method is successful, but the assistant is still limited in what work they are allowed to do until they are certified.  Certification after on the job training also differs from state to state, so contact your Dental State Board for the laws and rules that may affect your practice. 

Many dentists seek to build their “dream team,” however unless this is verbalized no one knows but the dentist what this term means.   One dentist explained his vision this way; “I want to walk into the treatment room with all the necessary instruments set-up, the patient is bibbed, has been told about the treatment to be performed, has signed consents and is ready for me.  Methodically and without a hitch, I expect my assistants to anticipate how the treatment is progressing and be able to create a smooth workflow. With a few words, we work to create the best result for the patient.  The result is a happy patient, a happy doctor, and a happy assistant.”

From this statement, perhaps the dentist is looking for these traits:

  1. Organizational skills, being able to efficiently set up the treatment room to be fully prepared for all procedures that the patient is planned to receive that day.
  2. Responsible and showing initiative by preparing the patient for the treatment and by having them sign the informed consent and explaining the procedure to be performed today.
  3. A great attitude toward their work and the patient.  The assistant wants to create a functional, smooth experience for the dentist and the patient.
  4. Dedication to their work and pride in being prepared.  A rare trait but one that is in high demand.

Create a job description based on the basics necessary for the position and then add those qualifications and attributes that you, as a dentist, feel are required for your practice success. 

 A trait often overlooked in a job interview is that of personality.  Many dentists hire based on experience and then find they don’t get along with the dental assistants’ temperament.  Define the type of personality that you find best for working side by side for eight hours or more per day. Some dentists value a friendly engaging personality above some chairside skills.  For temperament analytics, you might look to The Four Temperaments-Personality Page at  There is a simple test to get a base of a personality type.

Dentistry performed in an office setting is an extroverted business that requires personalities that like interfacing with people all day long.  Some personality types prefer quiet and working alone, which is contrary to the average day in a dental office.

If a particular type of personality is a requirement for the job in your office, be prepared to find out before you hire. 

 Remember, the job applicants will give their best during an interview, and most people are friendly and engaging when they want the job.  It is often challenging to find all the traits you want in one person, so flexibility and give and take are required.

There are newer and better ways of finding talent in today’s job market.  Cloud Dentistry, is a revolutionary new platform that matches dental offices and dental professionals. Valuable time and revenue are saved to serve the practice by keeping up with the demand for staffing temporarily and permanently.  

Before using any recruiting service, you still must define the job as you see it in your practice and then the professional skills, licensing requirements, and personality of the desired employee. 

Building your “dream team” can be a goal well worth the search and the extra time and patience in finding the right people for your practice.


Dental Billing Tips and News for Pros; Edition #141


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