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Spend more time with family. 

Have more time to pursue hobbies, go back to college, or write a book. 

Earn extra income to supplement your current job. 

Why do you want to temp as a dental assistant or hygienist?

Temping in a dental office can be a super-convenient way to earn while maintaining a flexible schedule.  

Working as a temp dental assistant or temp dental hygienist can position you for career advancement or the opportunity to work full-time. It’s a rewarding kind of work that helps you keep your skills sharp and acquire new ones while you strive towards that next goal in your life.

But working on a temporary or per diem basis doesn’t mean that temping is any easier than a full-time position. In fact, it presents a variety of unique challenges that you don’t encounter in full-time work.

To make a success of your temp work and reach your personal and career goals, you need a certain set of qualities.

Use this checklist of essential qualities to set yourself up for success as a temp dental hygienist or temp dental assistant.

1. A positive attitude.

A good deal of confusion and frustration come along with temping in multiple dental practices. You’ll have to put up with a variety of attitudes and work ethics in addition to different treatment processes and it helps if you can view everything with a healthy dose of optimism. 

Treat all dentists and staff members with respect and try to stay pleasant for your patients even if you don’t agree with the protocol of a certain office. When dentists and their team go out of their way to help you adjust to the new practice, thank them genuinely.

That being said, don’t risk your license by staying quiet or complicit. If you witness unethical practices, don’t be afraid to say something and do the right thing.

2. Professionalism.

As a temp dental assistant, professional integrity counts. You never know what more advanced and stable career opportunities could open up as a result of taking your job seriously. Demonstrate professionalism in a temporary position by:

  • Calling the day before you’re scheduled to work to confirm what time you should arrive
  • Arriving early to get yourself oriented with the environment and processes and to locate sufficient PPE such as masks and gloves
  • Showing a dedication to your career by providing the best service possible to the patients
  • Cooperating with the regular dental staff

3. Adaptability.

You need to adapt if you’re going to thrive as a temp, especially if you’re a temp dental hygienist or temp dental assistant. Temping means you have to be flexible and adjust to the unique processes and expectations of different dental practices.

4. Humility.

Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something and then ask for help! You will make mistakes when you encounter new situations as a temp in a dental office. You may even receive some undeserved criticism. Humility will help you rise above negativity and view each mistake an opportunity to learn something new and expand your skills. You might even learn some great new skills and techniques!

5. Organization.

Temping isn’t a consistent 9-to-5 kind of gig. Staying organized will help you to remember where you’re supposed to be and when despite having an inconsistent schedule. Maintain a tidy work calendar and use a reliable alarm to help you stay on time. You might want to use an hours tracker app to keep track of offices where you’ve worked and take note of the hours you worked and when you’ll be paid, in case you go back.

6. Reliability

Being a reliable temp dental assistant or temp hygienist is especially important, offices are counting on you to keep their schedule together. If you aren’t reliable you won’t be offered other opportunities to temp and word of mouth can hurt you.

7. Endurance

You really need to be able to stick it out when it comes to temping in a dental office. Not every temp position will be your dream job, but coping with the challenges will help you to grow as a professional.

You don’t have to work in less than ideal conditions forever. So hang in there and give it your best; temping can be an extremely rewarding step along your dental career path! 


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We connect and educate more than 785,000 job seekers in the U.S. and Canada to build better places to work through teams that excel.

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