Do you have the right stuff to be a great dentist? It takes more than just excellent grades and a background in science. What qualities and skills separate an okay dentist from a fantastic dentist? We’ve touched on what skills are needed to be a dentist before, but there are even more important dentist skills and qualities to know about!
How Important Are People-Skills for a Dentist?
In short, people skills are the leading quality that divides an acceptable dentist from an excellent one. But it takes more than just being able to make small talk with a smile. Patients feel incredibly vulnerable in the dental environment, so you’ll need to be able to make deep connections easily.
Comfortable in Close Proximity
Think about the physical position a dentist works in. You’ll need to be inside your patients’ personal space, sometimes for long periods. A great dentist must feel highly comfortable in close physical contact with others. You’ll need to be comfortable having your hands in someone else’s mouth. Dentistry also requires a certain level of comfort with other people’s saliva, blood, pus, malodor, and all the sights and smells of being human.
Your patients will be incredibly emotionally and physically vulnerable under your care. You’ll be looming over them, working in one of the most sensitive areas of their body, and they likely won’t be able to see what you’re doing. And let’s be honest: no matter how gentle and caring you are, some procedures will hurt your patients.
Becoming Someone Your Patients Can Trust
That’s why gaining your patients’ trust is essential for a good dentist. Your patients must feel comfortable trusting you with procedures they may not fully understand and put themselves in your hands. When we say you need to be comfortable in close proximity, it’s more than just physical. It would help to connect emotionally with your patients, so they feel comfortable in your care.
It also helps if you’re easy to talk to and your patients feel they are seen and heard. If you’re a bit introverted, don’t worry; these are communication skills you can develop with a little effort. Practice active listening and learn how to acknowledge others’ frustrations or fears without internalizing those emotions. Working with a mentor is a great way to master people skills and develop a shining chairside manner.
Dentists Need Skills to Produce Quality Work
Manual dexterity is an obvious must-have for significant dental work. Your new career will have you working in fractions of millimeters, and you’ll need a steady hand to perform your job well. That’s why it’s essential to make sure you have the physical ability to work with accurate movements.
Great Dentistry Is in the Details
Dentists must be detail-oriented, but those details aren’t limited to the physical. Your attention to detail must extend to every aspect of your day, down to organizing your operatory. You’ll need to know the patient’s treatment plan details to ensure nothing gets missed. Likewise, you’ll need to know their overall health to be sure you’re not putting them at risk due to possible medical contraindications.
Hard skills are those that apply directly to your field, and specifically your field alone. In dentistry, that means knowing how to perform diagnostics, recognize pathology, build an effective treatment plan incorporating any necessary specialists, and physically carry out the needed restorations and interventions. Missing an essential detail at any point in that process can spell disaster. Lack of awareness for even the most minor factor can cause added discomfort, expense, and time in the chair for your patient. Great dentistry means working to get it right the first time, from the moment your patient enters your practice.
Great Dentists Have an Artistic Eye
It sounds like working in dentistry requires a “type A” personality through and through, right? You may be surprised, but a significant amount of dental work also demands a certain level of artistic skill! While it’s possible to produce acceptable restorations without much thought for aesthetics, great dentists make every filling as beautiful as possible.
You’ll need an artistic eye, especially if you intend to work with cosmetic cases (including anterior restorations). Patients’ smiles affect every aspect of their lives, from work to romance. Your patients deserve to feel proud of their smiles. Little else can damage a person’s self-esteem faster than feeling like they must suppress their laughter or cover their teeth in pictures because they’re unhappy with their appearance. Likewise, nothing helps patients soar more than excellent dental work that leaves them eager to show off their pearly whites.
From shade matching to contouring, you’ll need a good sense of the ideal proportions for every line angle to create great dental work. While you will likely perform a wide range of procedures throughout your career, give special attention to learning great aesthetics.
Quality Dentists Care About Using Their Skills for Good
Dentistry is a labor of caring. While many people are initially attracted to the job for its particular level of prestige or potential for high income, dentists with a passion for helping improve their patients’ lives will genuinely love it. If you, as a dentist, really care about helping your patients, it will be easier for you to help them work through emotions such as fear and anxiety to achieve better health. Your primary job as a caregiver in the dental setting is to protect your patient’s experience in the chair. That includes doing great work, but it also means operating with compassion and meeting your patient’s needs for comfort.
It also means striving to help those who need you! As you enter this fantastic field, consider working where dentists are needed most. Not only will your skills do the most good here, but your patients’ lives stand to benefit most from all the qualities that make you a great dentist. Schedule a call with a Hiring Manager to learn about putting your skills to work with a career at CDP!