Why is Listening Such an Important Skill for Dental Assistants?

a dental assistant taking copious notes as a dentist explains a patient’s x-rays

Not everyone is a good listener. Some are easily distracted while others simply prefer to talk instead of hearing what someone else has to say. While in school, it is likely that you will learn the importance of listening while taking a dental assisting course or two. This beneficial skill will not only make you more appealing to potential employers, but it will also enable you to perform at a higher level. Learn more about why listening is one of the most vital tools you’ll need to make it as a dental assistant.

The Importance of Being a Good Listener

As a dental assistant, you are expected to have a specific set of skills when it comes to working in a dentist’s office. Not only are you responsible for maintaining equipment, sterilizing instruments, and organization the treatment room, but you are also an ear for patients to talk to. This means you must also be a good listener.

The truth is, you are there to help ensure that the patient has a positive experience, so don’t be surprised if they lean on you to discuss a few things they might choose not to share with the dentist. While in dental assisting school, you may discover there are a few reasons why listening at this time is incredibly important:

  1. You will begin to establish a patient-practice relationship that builds trust and will ultimately lead to a patient being more comfortable with a suggested treatment or procedure.
  2. You will, in an essence, encourage the patient to keep coming back for continued treatment.
  3. You will have the opportunity to provide a solution to help the patient in their time of need.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Ask “Why”

Some patients have difficulty discussing their dental problems due to embarrassment. Others may present themselves in a way that screams, “I don’t care about my oral health.” No matter what type of patient ends up in your chair, it’s always important to listen and ask questions, especially “Why?”

If the person you’re treating explains that they’ve had another form of treatment in the past out of convenience, you may be able to suggest an alternative solution that will prove more beneficial to their overall well-being in the long run. For example, if a patient had two teeth extracted and you asked why they were removed, you may learn it was because they opted to forgo good oral hygiene. If this is the case, you can begin to open a line of communication by suggesting another method of treatment (i.e. dental implants) and the many benefits they can provide throughout a person’s life.

Understanding and listening to the reasons or circumstances for a particular situation can give you the information you need to possibly change a patient’s life.

About Dental Assistant Pro
For more than 25 years, Dental Assistant Pro has been providing aspiring dental assistants with essential knowledge and hands-on skills learning. We offer a class-based instructional program that combines real-life experience in a dental office with lectures and time spent in operatory treatment rooms. To learn more about us, visit our website or call (513) 515-6611.