This year, dental assistants saw a lot of changes and challenges.

Temporary office closures. In some cases, job losses. Heightened infection control protocols. Personal protective equipment and other dental supply shortages. And, of course, working with patients and colleagues who may have felt fearful or apprehensive.

Despite all the challenges that crossed your path, you continued to show up to help others — which is extremely impressive. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.

Below, we review just a few of the many ways dental assistants went above and beyond in 2020.


1. Taking extra time to screen patients for COVID-19

This year, a majority of dental assistants reported taking on more duties at work as a result of the pandemic — with screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms among the top new responsibilities.

Screening activities involved calling patients before their appointments to determine whether they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, as well as assessing patients and office visitors upon their arrival to the dental office with questionnaires and temperature checks.

“Every day, we are screening patients before they can enter the office to keep everyone, including providers, safe from COVID-19 exposure,” says Catherine T., CDA.

 


2. Performing more infection control duties

Dental assistants are typically responsible for implementing dental infection prevention and control protocols. And this year, dental assistants took on even more tasks in this area — for example, following additional infection control protocols where needed to ensure that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) interim guidelines for COVID-19 were being met.

“Since the beginning of my career, infection prevention has always been of utmost importance to me — and its importance was highlighted this year as a result of the pandemic,” shares Katie C., CDA.

“As a dental assistant, it is my responsibility as a professional to protect my patients, my community and myself against the spread of infection,” Katie continues. “At my office, I was given the responsibility to implement an infection control protocol for the office in accordance with CDC guidelines — and I am proud to share that our practice has infection control standards and a culture that holds infection prevention at the most important level.”


3. Demonstrating an unwavering commitment to providing patient care

Even though this year was marked with uncertainty and anxiety, many dental assistants nonetheless felt called to continue helping patients in need.

“With many dental offices closed, I remained on call to assist in dental emergencies,” recalls Elizabeth P., CDA, of her experience early on in the pandemic. “Many patients were suffering from unbearable dental pain and otherwise would have nowhere to go. I knew that we must continue helping one another — so I was proud to be able to assist emergency patients during this time, even though we were all scared and trying to adapt under a great amount of stress.”

 

Dental assistants, thank you for going above and beyond this year.