Dental assistants are some of the most important people in your dental practice. Often the face of the practice, they are often the first people patients meet when they sit in your chair. They are by your patients’ sides throughout their time in your practice.
Because of the influence they have on the patient experience, developing top-performing dental assistants must be a high priority of dental practices. And for dental assistants who want to advance in their careers, consistent improvement in key areas can make you indispensable to your practice.
Here are six important functions top-performing dental assistants execute well.
Get to know each patient by name and face.
The best dental assistants know patients before they come into the office. Perhaps the practice can put a system in place to take pictures of each new patient for their chart. That way, the dental assistant can check the patient’s chart and greet patients by sight. This will make sure each patient knows they are not just a number. The practice cares about them enough learn their name and face.
If you don’t have patient pictures in their charts, the dental assistant should ask the receptionist which person in the waiting room is the next one. You don’t want your dental assistant to walk into the waiting room and call out the patient’s name. That is very impersonal. They should know who the patient is so that they can walk directly up to them and meet, greet, and then seat them by name.
Review medical history and patient forms before each appointment.
Before the patient comes in, the best dental assistants review their medical history and patient forms. Are there any medical conditions that require pre-med? Is there anything that needs updating? Taking just a few minutes to review medical history and patient forms makes the patient experience more efficient, customized, and welcoming.
Explain procedures and ensure informed consent is obtained.
Patients feel much more comfortable when they understand procedures in plain terms. This is where dental assistants can really stand out. Top-performing dental assistants know enough about procedures to explain them and answer questions. Once informed consent is obtained, dental assistants will also make sure it has been properly documented.
Help patients during procedures.
Throughout procedures, most dental assistants read the doctor’s needs to ensure she or he has everything required to perform the procedure. The best dental assistants anticipate these needs, ensuring the doctor has everything needed in real-time. This makes procedures smoother and quicker.
The best dental assistants do not only read the doctor’s needs, though; they also read the patients’ needs. They’ll notice if they’re tightening their grip or if they feel uncomfortable and either get your attention or adjust what they are doing to ensure the patient is comfortable.
Deliver post-procedure instructions.
Once the procedure is done, the best dental assistants reorient the patient and ensure they are ready to return to their daily life. If the patient is elderly or on nitrogen, they’ll make sure to sit them up slowly in order to avoid dizziness. They’ll give the patient time to get comfortable and ready to go. Once the patient is reoriented, dental assistants should give post-operative instructions in plain language. Then, they should invite the patient to call or return to the office with any questions.
Dismiss and hand off patients.
After post-procedure instructions are given, the best dental assistants ensure each patient is cleaned off then escort them to the front desk. Once there, they will update the front-desk staff with specific instructions about next steps needed for the patient. This reduces the chance of mistakes in billing or scheduling, two big patient frustrations.
Are your dental assistants top performers?
Dental assistants are with patients throughout their experience with your practice. They can make a big difference in patient experience, practice efficiency, and productivity.
If your dental assistants are not performing at the highest level, join the Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program where you can access top training and coaching from experts in all facets of running a practice.