Kindness in the dental practice makes a difference

a notebook with text that reads "practice kindness"

With so much happening in dentistry today, a dental assistant’s skill set is arguably more important than ever. Specifically, their ability to show empathy, courtesy, and respect to patients can go a long way.

It doesn’t cost a thing to be kind to others, and it can potentially make a big difference in a person’s day — or even their life — and have a positive impact on the practice.

Overcoming patient discomfort with compassion

Let’s face it: The dental office is not most people’s favorite place to be! How often do we hear, “I’m terrified of the dentist,” “I don’t like going to the dentist,” or “I’m OK, but I’ll be better when this appointment is over”? Being in a dental office and working with patients is normal for dental assistants. But not everyone is as comfortable being there as we are, even if they manage to hide it well.

Dental assistants are blessed to be in a field that gives us the opportunity to help make a difference for someone else — not only through dentistry, but also the way we treat patients in our office. This is why it’s so valuable for dental assistants to be kind, personable, and empathetic to every patient who walks through the door.

Patients look to dental assistants for comfort and assurance that everything is going to be OK. Dental assistants are skilled at reading cues from patients and knowing how to respond with compassion. It can be as simple as a caring smile, a comforting pat on a shoulder or hand, or taking the time to walk beside them on the way to or from the operatory and genuinely listening to what they have to say.

Telling patients that you appreciate them can make all the difference. After all, they could go to any dental practice, but they chose yours!

Some of these simple gestures can relax even the most anxious patients.

A dental assistant’s ability to create a comfortable environment for patients is a skill set that benefits the whole office. It allows doctors to perform procedures smoothly and efficiently, and it makes patients more willing to return for future visits. Sometimes, a dental assistant can even make previously nervous patients feel excited about coming back for their next appointments.

Not only is being genuinely compassionate to patients important, but dental assistants also strive to show that they care just as much about their teammates and doctors. I have found that being kind can do as much for you as it does for the other person. The best part is that kindness rubs off on others. I have seen it happen over and over again!

So, even with all the changes and challenges in dentistry, simple and genuine kindness is still the answer — and it’s even more important than ever!

Kay ThompsonAbout the author

Kay Thompson worked as a dental assistant for 20 years and then became a practice administrator, a role she has now held for over a decade. Kay is a lifetime American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM) member and earned her Fellowship designation (FAADOM) in 2020. To learn more about AADOM’s resources for dental professionals and to find more peer-to-peer inspiration, visit