What makes a good dentist?

As the dentists of the future embark on the first few weeks of their training in dentistry we were chatting over lunch at work about what skills and attitudes you need to be good at it. Here’s what we came up with:

1. Morals
Arguably the most important but also difficult to asses in an interview. It can also be quite subjective. We will all have different ideas but we probably all agree on 4th Century BC Hippocratic principle of “prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.”.

2. Interpersonal skills
Dentistry is a person centred profession and patients will soon notice if we don’t treat them as we would like to be treated ourselves. Also, the daily interaction with people from all walks of life is one of the most enjoyable aspects of dentistry so both dentist and patient benefit if they have a good working relationship.

3. Manual dexterity
Dentists need to be able to perform complex fine motor tasks in a dark, wet hole. Alongside this goes attention to detail and precision. Cack handed is no good!

4. Thinking skills
The ability to get straight As in exams is of negligible importance for a dentist. You do however need a different kind of intelligence involving evaluating evidence, problem solving and independent thought which is difficult to assess using our current education system.