The holidays are around the corner, which means it’s almost time for annual holiday gift exchanges with friends, family members and co-workers. We know that since dental assistants are always so organized, you’ve probably already begun brainstorming the best holiday gifts to give to others. You’re likely already going to stores and shopping online, searching for that perfect present and stocking up on gifts for everyone on your list.

But perhaps the most important gift that you can offer is to give back. We know that dental assistants are compassionate and volunteer their time in many ways. Volunteering comes naturally for many dental assistants, but there are also many valuable reasons to share your skills and time to others.

To Build Community Connections

Elizabeth P., CDA, has been volunteering with the Connecticut Mission of Mercy every single year since 2012. “I keep encouraging everyone to participate in this incredible event,” she says. “I have always thought that volunteering is the best way to get involved in the community.”

“As I believe in paying it forward, I have already started to volunteer in my community to give back as much as possible in this career field.”
— Angela S.

To Impact the Lives of Others

One of the best moments in a dental assistant’s day is when they see the appreciative grin on a patient’s face and know they helped to restore someone’s oral health, smile and confidence. This is especially true when it comes to the underserved, the fearful, children and many other groups of people that dental assistants can help by volunteering. Patients may be in pain and in need of overdue dental care. Possibly, lack of affordable, easy access to care may have made it difficult if not almost impossible to get to the dentist. By volunteering, you can make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

Lun G. has experienced firsthand the rewards of giving back. “I have done services such as helping in nursing homes, creating care packages for women and children at the local shelter, and being a volunteer at marathons and walks,” she says. “I find volunteering to be so rewarding. The feeling you get when you see how appreciative the people you helped are is incomparable to any other feeling in the world.”

To Feel a Sense of Purpose

Tracy C. works at a clinic in southeast Kansas that helps people in need. She says she honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. “We are able to get people out of pain and infection. We don’t turn anyone away for the inability to pay,” she says. Through this work, she’s doing what she was called to do and is living her passion on a daily basis.

The idea that she can help alleviate patients’ pain is what inspires Kyra G. to give back as well. It was while she was volunteering with the Colorado Mission of Mercy that a general dentist told her something that resonated with her. “He said, ‘Dentistry is a rare field in which you can have a patient arrive in immense pain, but leave pain-free,’” Kyra explains. This dentist’s viewpoint further shaped her perspective on the life-changing power of dentistry. “I hope to take his advice and provide this type of closure to future patients,” she says.

To Have Unforgettable Experiences

Some dental assistants volunteer with organizations that provide free dental services in their own local communities. They go to schools and dental clinics to provide care and travel to those in need via mobile clinics. Other dental assistants choose to travel globally to countries where access to oral healthcare is a concern for the populations there. You’ve shared your volunteerism stories with us, and we consistently hear from you that giving your time in this way has been life-changing. Such experiences have introduced you to people and places you otherwise may not have encountered, and you are forever changed and grateful.

“As I believe in paying it forward, I have already started to volunteer in my community to give back as much as possible in this career field,” explains Angela S.

Kyra says she participated in a two-week dental service program in Panama City, Panama. “It was an experience I will never forget. This adventure opened my eyes to the world we live in where so many go without dental treatment,” she says.

To Renew Your Passion for the Profession

You often share with us that you love your career. You enjoy assisting alongside your teammates, putting patients first, keeping things on track and organized, and more. But we also know that, come holiday season especially, you’re probably ready for a break. Sometimes, the dental office can be a busy place, and day-to-day routines can begin to feel like a grind. When you start to feel this way, it can be helpful to get out there and do something different. Volunteering provides an extra opportunity to share smiles with patients and renew your passion for the profession.

“When I am focused on serving others, I feel driven,” says Blanca P. “Volunteer and community projects are a centerpiece in my heart. My mission is to be humble and honest, to improve oral health and to touch people’s lives by utilizing modern dentistry to serve communities.”

April S. echoes a similar sentiment. She regularly volunteers with Mission of Mercy in Arkansas. “I’ve seen that people genuinely appreciate the help they receive. It makes me cry to see the impact a day of my time can have, and to know that I have changed someone’s life and enhanced their self-esteem,” April says. “I recommend volunteerism to anyone who is feeling burnt out with dental assisting. We can truly change lives by showing up and giving our all.”

Why do you volunteer? Share your story!