What Are Dentist Skills? (With Examples And Tips To Improve)

Updated 30 September 2022

A dentist's career is highly challenging but rewarding, as they treat and engage with patients. Dentists require a variety of soft and hard skills to succeed in their careers. If you are planning a career as a dentist, you can benefit from learning about some important skills for this profession. In this article, we discuss what dentist skills are, provide some examples of these skills and guide you on how to develop them and present them at work and during a job application.

What Are Dentist Skills?

Dentist skills are abilities and characteristics that can help dentists create and develop a successful career. Some examples of hard skills include learning how to use specific medical tools and devices and the medical knowledge that dentists require to diagnose oral and dental issues.

Dentists may require to develop a few soft skills that can help them communicate better with patients. These skills enable them to manage their relationships with office staff and colleagues in the facility. Examples of these skills include communication, enthusiasm, interpersonal skills, attention to detail, leadership, dexterity, adaptability, decision-making and business awareness.

Related: How To Become A Dentist (With Multiple Career Options)

Examples Of Dentist Skills

Here are some examples of soft skills that dentists can develop to create a satisfying career:


As a dentist, you may communicate with your team of doctors and nurses about drugs and medical advances. Your job also includes communicating diagnoses, tests, treatment options and preventative measures to patients. Strong communication skills help you in all these situations.


Depending on the practice, dentists may work with diverse clients including children, people with disabilities or special needs, those with dental anxiety and those who may have complex or advanced oral health needs. Working with these varied groups requires flexibility, understanding and empathy. As a dentist, it is important for you to adapt to meet the emotional needs of your patients as a critical skill in your medical practice.


Your typical day as a dentist may involve working with a wide variety of employees. These include receptionists, hygienists, assistant dentists, lab technicians and office staff. You may even work in a team with other dentists. Working with all these people requires a set of interpersonal skills that include collaboration, socialisation and negotiation.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions And Examples

Attention to detail

As a dentist, your job is to listen attentively and not miss any small details when a patient comes to you with oral health issues. Great attention to detail is important for proper diagnosis and treatment. You also require this skill when you are aligning, colouring and shaping teeth. Dental solutions can affect a patient's smile and appearance, which is why these minute details are so important.


Leadership is a necessary skill for senior dentists in a large team and for dentists who own private clinics. Strong leadership skills involve knowing how to treat your staff, including hygienists, other dentists and assistants. When you own a practice, it becomes even more important to lead by example.

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles


Dentistry involves working in tiny spaces within the patient's mouth. It often requires the handling of small yet sharp tools and dental fixtures. To achieve perfect alignment of teeth, it is important that you deftly perform tasks with your hands and fingers. This requires dexterity.


As a dentist, you are likely to meet many different kinds of patients every day. These include children, senior citizens, disabled people, people with multiple medical conditions and those with dental anxiety. While giving each patient undivided care and attention, it helps to remain flexible in your treatment approach and adapt whenever possible.


Even though dental practices use a planned approach to manage dental procedures, as a dentist, it can be part of your job to treat emergencies. Emergencies can also occur in the middle of a planned oral procedure. These are situations where it can help to make quick and effective decisions. Developing decision-making skills can aid you to manage not just dental emergencies but also staff or business-related problems.

Business development

If you have set up a private dental clinic, you have set up a business. Being aware of how a business works can help you establish and grow your practice more effectively. Managing business expenses, hiring support staff, purchasing equipment and devising ways to attract and retain patients are all part of developing your clinic.

How To Improve Dentist Skills

As a dentist, you can develop many soft skills through practice. You can learn some of the skills on the job and others at the dental college. Here are some tips to improve these skills:

1. Develop one skill at a time

It helps to set goals for one particular skill instead of trying to work on all of them at the same time. For instance, if you want to develop your adaptability skills, you can set a timeline of one month, during which you collect feedback from patients to learn more about what makes them more comfortable in a clinic. Go through the feedback to select genuine concerns and devise ways to accommodate them. Once you have successfully set up an environment that makes most of your patients comfortable, you are ready to move on to the next skill.

2. Let someone guide you

If you are a new dentist who has joined a facility that employs other dentists, you can ask a senior dentist to guide you to develop one or more of the skills. For example, if you want to develop your interpersonal skills, you can ask a senior dentist to provide feedback on your interaction with others. You can also observe how they communicate with people and take notes wherever applicable. You can ask them for guidance when you are not sure how to communicate a specific piece of information to patients or office staff.

3. Research

Through research, you can stay up to date about the technical aspects of your job and also improve your soft skills. For example, researching best practices in other clinics can help incorporate their business skills into your clinic. Staying up to date about industry trends can also help you learn about new tools and how to handle them with improved dexterity. Also, remaining updated can help you become a better leader by communicating openly about internal issues and possible solutions.

Dentist Skills In The Workplace

Here are some tips that you can follow to grow your skills and apply them in the workplace:

  • Asking questions frequently: This is a helpful way to develop your skills if you are new to a facility or a practice. Ask anyone you meet at your daily job for tips on how they apply these skills. It could be a senior practitioner, a hygienist, a receptionist or even an equipment facilitator.

  • Focusing on a team environment: This method of applying and developing your skills in the workplace especially works well if you manage a clinic. Working collaboratively can help exercise your leadership and communication skills while also making you more business aware.

  • Asking for feedback: Receiving timely feedback can help you improve your skills and apply the improved skills almost instantly. Although patient feedback is a great source for improvement, you can also seek immediate feedback on your skills from co-workers.

Ways To Highlight Your Skills

Knowing how to highlight the skills during a job application process can give your candidature a distinct advantage, especially if you are applying for a dentist job at an established clinic. Here are some of the ways to highlight your skills:

On your resume

When writing your resume, it helps to prioritise the technical skills that help you distinguish yourself as a qualified dentist. In the skills section, you can mention your other skills, which are your soft skills. You can also give examples of your soft skills in bullet points under each of your work experience listings. For example, if you mention an experience where you worked as a senior dentist at a facility, you can mention this sentence in the last bullet point this way:

Example: Led a team of four junior dentists and supervised complex dental procedures.

In the cover letter

When writing about your work experience in your cover letter, you can give an example that shows your soft skills. You can mention your adaptability skills in a cover letter this way:

Example: When I was working with Freesmiles Inc., I specially designed a toy room for the comfort of my patients who were below the age group of five years.

During an interview

On the day of your interview, you can give more examples from your past jobs to highlight some of the soft skills you may have acquired or used. Also, you can use your body language during a face-to-face interview to express your active listening, communication and interpersonal skills. It helps to prepare multiple examples of a skill beforehand so that you can smoothly communicate them to your potential employer if they want to know more.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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