Being a dental assistant is a demanding occupation, often in more ways than you appreciate when you first get into this line of work. You’ve just completed your training, passed your exams, and you’ve landed a job as a dental assistant. You’re prepared for the rigors of intensive dental work, you’re not queasy at the sight of blood, and the dentist’s drill doesn’t set your teeth on edge like it does for everyone else. In other words, you’re all set.
Now, we don’t expect anyone who has gone through all that training to overlook the fact that they will be spending a great deal of their time on their feet when they start their new career, but you could be forgiven for overlooking the long term effects of footwear that just doesn’t do the job. After all, you trained in teeth, not feet!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when buying shoes for your new life as a dental assistant is to try a bunch of different options on and just assume that a pair that is comfortable walking around the shoe store for two minutes will meet your needs in the dental profession. Your body is a finely tuned machine, and just as tooth pain is not always what it seems, so too can uncomfortable footwear be the start of larger problems in your legs, hips, back, and even as far as your shoulders and neck.
Hopefully, this illustrates just how crucial it is to have footwear that will adequately support your feet.
What to Look for in Dental Assistant Shoes
For people outside of the dental profession, it’s easy to think of a dental assistant as a person who spends all their time stood beside the chair, handing things to the dentist. Of course, being on your feet all day is no small task, even when you’re not moving around much. But the truth is dental assistants do a lot of walking in the course of their average day. Between the movement needed to get around a dental surgery, passing tools and assisting the dentist with procedures, to calling patients, retrieving x-rays, and a host of other tasks that may see you heading to different parts of the building on a regular basis, dental assistants can easily clock up over 10,000 steps a day just being at work.
So, what does this mean for shoes? You need shoes that are comfortable to walk in, of course, but there is still a fair amount of standing in one spot for extended periods. An average filling, for example, takes around twenty minutes, and root canal work can take up to an hour! And, as a dental assistant, you might find yourself rooted to the spot for that entire procedure.
So your shoes should be comfortable, that is a given. But they should also provide adequate support for your arches. You want shoes with plenty of toe room, since having bunched up toes rubbing together for long periods every day can cause a lot of pain. You also want shoes that are breathable and will not cook your feet in their own juices while you are working. Not only are sweaty feet uncomfortable, but they also invite unpleasantness like athletes foot and other foot fungi.
You also need footwear that doesn’t rub, even a little. A small amount of rubbing isn’t the end of the world when you’re talking about trainers you might wear a few times a week. But for the kind of use dental assistants put their shoes through, a bit of rubbing can quickly turn into blisters. It’s also worth considering having multiple different pairs of trainers that you can rotate through. This will help mitigate the cumulative effect of having the same pressures on your feet every day.
But that’s enough on what to look for. We promised you our ten best shoes for dental assistants, so let’s get into it!
1. Nurse Mate’s Women’s Velocity Medical Professional Shoe
Nurse Mate’s Women’s Velocity shoes give off strong sneaker vibes, but they are actually shoes that have been designed specifically with medical professionals in mind. Despite the appearance (there are several different patterns available), they are made from durable leather, so you won’t have to worry about them falling apart after a few weeks of use! And, as an added bonus, if you were to drop a dental drill on your feet, these shoes are tough enough to protect you!
Not that you’ll need that because you won’t be dropping dental tools on your feet, but it’s nice to know you can. That being said, the enclosed design of the shoe and the leather outer doesn’t make it the most breathable shoe out there. If you’re prone to sweaty feet, you might want to consider something else.
The shoes are comfortable and light and feature an elasticated lacing system that makes adjustment easy, and getting the shoes on and off quick and painless. The star of the show is the footbed, however. Here, you will find more than enough arch support, dual-density foam and composite shanks for stability and comfort, and a slip-resistant outsole that is perfect for use in medical environments.
- Durable full-grain leather offers excellent protection
- Very easy to slip on and off
- Comfortable footbeds with good stability and plenty of arch support
- Several different designs to choose from
- Not the most breathable shoe
- Arch support may be uncomfortable for flat-footed people
2. Merrell Men’s Jungle Moc Slip-On Shoe
For something even easier to slip on and off, we give you Merrell Men’s Jungle Moc Slip-On Shoes. These shoes are made from suede leather uppers and rubber soles for a stylish-yet comfortable wear. The footbed is contoured to support your feet, while additional heel cushioning reduces the stress on your feet when you are walking around.
The outsoles are slip-resistant, which is an essential attribute for shoes being used on the smooth floors of your average dental surgery. And, not that you’re likely to need it at work, but they are also very capable on mixed terrain. The outsole wraps around the front of the toe area for added support for those unfortunate times when you accidentally kick a table leg.
The Jungle Moc slip-on shoes can be bought in a wide range of styles, from understated gray to eye-searing orange, and even various camouflage options.
Suede leather is not a particularly breathable material, so, once again, this might not be the best option for the sweatier footed among us. But the soft fabric interior should keep the average foot dry and comfortable. Be aware when purchasing that the slip-on nature of this shoe means you will need to order the correct size, as there is no adjustment. If you go too big, your feet will be rattling around in there all day!
- Very easy to slip on and off
- Durable suede leather outer
- Excellent grip and anti-slip outsoles
- Available in a wide range of colors and styles
- No adjustment thanks to the slip-on design
- Not the most breathable shoe
3. Work Wonders by Dansko Women’s Coral
The Work Wonders’ Women’s Coral shoe is a very professional looking slip-on shoe that means all kinds of business. It is made from durable leather and sports a clog-like design that features a roomy toe box and a high cuff at the rear. The outsole is made from rubber and is slip-resistant with plenty of tread to keep you from sliding around. The soles are lightweight and shock absorbing—something that shouldn’t be overlooked in footwear you’re going to be walking around in all day. The cumulative stress of an average footstep can really build up in your body.
Inside you will find breathable, moisture-wicking linings that are treated with anti-microbial shielding, which should be more than enough to keep your feet fresh and dry through those long days on your feet. Being a slip-on design, you will need to ensure the size you order is just right since there is no adjustment beyond what the natural stretch allows.
You can get the Women’s Coral in plain black leather, gloss black, and a funky and colorful leaf design.
- Very easy to slip on and off
- High-grip, anti-slip outsole
- Moisture-wicking and anti-microbial linings
- Plenty of room for your toes
- No adjustment due to slip-on design
4. Crocs Men’s and Women’s Specialist
Above, when we outlined all of the things to look for in a dental assistants shoe, Crocs were probably not the first thing to spring to mind, and for a good reason. These are not like your average Crocs, however.
Firstly, these Crocs are fully enclosed, so you don’t need to worry about dropped medical instruments impaling your feet through ill-advised holes in your footwear. Secondly, these Crocs are designed with work in mind. They are more comfortable, more durable, and have better traction than your average Crocs. Foam cushioning should keep your feet happy in general use, while carefully placed ventilation holes make up for the fact that the synthetic material used to make Crocs is not very breathable at all. Your heels will enjoy a little more protection than they would in average Crocs, and as an added bonus, they can be cleaned using mere soap and water. On the downside, there is little-to-no arch support, which could be ideal for flat-footed people, but not so much for everyone else.
- Great value for money
- Cushioned soles for added comfort
- Can be easily cleaned with soap and water
- Not slip-resistant
- No arch support
5. HOKA ONE ONE Men’s Bondi 6 Running Shoe
For the best support and comfort, it is often the case that running shoes have the market cornered, and things are no different for dental assistants. The Hoka One Men’s Bondi 6 Running Shoe offers a lot of cushioning for your poor soles. The outsole is designed with Meta-Rocker technology, which is heavily geared towards running. In short, the shoe is designed to “roll” with your steps, making walking and running that little bit easier. For dental assistants that do a lot of walking around, these are a great choice. It’s worth noting that this kind of design doesn’t always make for the most comfort when standing still, however.
The upper of the Bondi 6 is made from a breathable material, which should keep your feet nice and fresh while you are running for x-rays and calling in patients. It is also available in a wide range of styles. And, while we’re not sure how practical a pair of neon yellow sneakers would be in a dental surgery, there are plenty of more understated designs to choose from.
- Meta-Rocker technology makes walking more comfortable
- Highly cushioned soles
- Very breathable upper
- Wide range of styles to choose from
- May not be the best shoe for standing in one spot for long periods
6. Skechers Performance Women’s Go Walk Slip-On
Slip-on shoes for professionals might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Sketchers, but they have delivered an excellent option in this area regardless.
These are a lightweight slip-on shoe that offers supreme stability thanks to the thin outsole. Granted, this stability comes at the expense of some of the comfort you would get from a thicker sole, but these are by no means lacking in comfort when compared to other shoes of this style. They are breathable thanks to strategically placed breathable materials, and the insole features OrthoLite technology, which should help keep unpleasant odors at bay. You can order them in a range of different colors, from plain, professional white, to that neon yellow color we keep seeing for some reason.
- Lightweight and easy to slip on and off
- OrthoLite technology keeps odors away
- Range of styles to choose from
- Can run a little smaller than the size would imply
7. Inov-8 Men’s F-Lite 235 V2 Cross-Trainer Shoe
Not all running shoes feature inches and inches of cushioning. The F-Lite 235 V2 Cross-Trainer shoe is a prime example of that, with a near-to-the-ground design that is exceptionally light and very durable.
Naturally, having a thinner sole means less cushioning, but these shoes are ideal for flatter-footed people, and they are by no means uncomfortable for other people. The shoe sports a breathable upper, a roomy toe box, and a deceptive amount of shock absorption considering the thickness of the sole.
- Very lightweight and durable
- Great traction
- Available in several designs
- Not much arch support
8. Dansko Women’s Professional
Another clog-style slip-on shoe, the Dansko Women’s Professional is a leather shoe with a rubber sole and a lot of character. You can get the shoe in a huge range of options, from plain black leather to an embossed style that is both intricate and unique.
These shoes offer plenty of arch support, a padded instep collar, and breathable foam footbeds to keep your feet comfortable and fresh. The profile of the outsole is also designed to roll with your steps, offering better shock absorption and reduced stress on your feet.
- Lots of arch support
- Breathable foam footbeds
- Curved outsole reduces foot fatigue
- Huge range of styles to choose from
- No adjustment
- Not ideal for flat-footed people
9. Skechers D’Lites – Biggest Fan
The last Sketcher’s entry for best shoes for dental assistants might not have been what you’d expect from the popular sneaker company, but this offering is a bit more in line with their usual fare. A more traditional sneaker, the D’Lites come in a large range of styles and are made from synthetic and leather materials.
There is plenty of padding around the ankle for additional support, as well as a thick midsole for more shock absorption. They are lightweight and offer plenty of arch support. Being a more traditional type of sneaker, they use a standard lacing system, which provides more adjustment, but is not quite as easy to slip on and off.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Available in a wide range of styles
- The lacing system offers plenty of adjustment
- Lots of padding and cushioning
- Not as easy to get on and off as non-laced shoes
10. New Balance Women’s WX608v4 Comfort Pack Training Shoe
Finishing our list of best shoes for dental assistants is another traditional sneaker. New Balance’s WX608v4 is made from 100% leather upper with a rubber outsole. It offers a decadent amount of cushioning under the heel, with a good amount of arch support to go with it.
The cuff is quite high, which means more ankle support but may not be ideal for people who move around a lot. The toe box is roomy, however, and the flanks of the trainer are more accommodating to larger footed women. The shoe uses laces to fit snugly to your feet, though that means they are harder to take off at the end of the day. Still, that’s only one moment compared to the comfort of having your shoes securely on your feet throughout the day. There are a few different styles to choose from, though nothing too outrageous.
No neon yellow here.
- Very roomy—suitable for larger footed women
- Shock absorbing technology
- High, padded collar for more ankle support
- Plenty of options to choose from regarding style
- Cuff may be a little high for more mobile people