Many dental assistants regularly tell us they have the best bosses. However, others have shared that they sometimes feel frustrated with the dentist. “Assistants definitely deserve more credit than what they get,” says Jerrica J.

Some feel underappreciated and as if their role is not always seen as valuable. Angelica M. says, “I have felt like I’m ‘just’ an assistant. That’s the way I’ve been made to feel.”

Do you ever feel this way? We’ve compiled a list of the top things that assistants wish the dentist knew.

1. I’m Willing to Go Above and Beyond for Patients

For most, dental assisting is so much more than a job — it’s a calling. Many dental assistants are drawn to the profession because they’re compassionate and enjoy helping others. You’re dedicated to alleviating patients’ fears and concerns so that they can have the best dental visit experience. Additionally, you care about helping the dental patient achieve a healthy mouth and smile. In fact, to provide the best patient care, many assistants are driven to pursue continuing dental education. Informed dental assistants can share knowledge with patients and likely improve dentist-recommended treatment acceptance.

“To be a great dental assistant takes a lot of heart,” says Kathy H. “There’s no better reward than a big hug from your patients at the end of their appointment.”

2. I’m an Asset to the Dental Team

In the dental office, dental assistants perform valuable duties. These may include critical infection control tasks and, for some, expanded functions. Assistants typically also manage the schedule and spend time interacting with patients. Sometimes, they even impact whether patients return to the office for future care. However, some dental assistants still feel as if their role isn’t quite understood or is minimized — even by the dentist.

“Most dentists don’t seem to even realize all that we do,” Barbara C. feels.

3. I’m Eager to Learn

While some dental assistants graduated from a formal dental assistant school, others trained on-the-job. Regardless of how they entered the profession, all successful dental assistants know that the key to growing in the role is pursuing continuing dental education (and DANB certification!). They also are eager to learn from experienced, knowledgeable mentors such as the dentist. After all, dentistry is an ever-evolving field, with new technology and procedures consistently arising.

“Getting an education gave me a great a jump-start into the profession with confidence, but there’s nothing like a few years of real-life hands-on experience, too,” says Allison M.

4. I’m Trying My Best

Most dental assistants are willing to learn. However, and understandably, some can become frustrated with the learning curve that usually accompanies trying new things. Thus, assistants appreciate when their teammates and the dentist recognize their effort and patiently help them get up to speed.

Stephanie M. admittedly has had a rough start as an extern. “I am trying,” she shares. “I am on my third week of my externship. It takes me longer to learn than others, and it’s hard.”

5. Gratitude Goes a Long Way

Dental assistants can become discouraged if the dentist appears to be unappreciative of all the work they do. They agree that receiving a simple acknowledgment of a job well done from the dentist can make all the difference.

“I love what I do — especially when the doctor praises and appreciates my work,” says Guadalupe V. “The doctor always says thank you to me.”

In fact, hearing “thank you” can reassure everyone they’re anything but “just” assistants. On the contrary, dental assistants are vital members of the team.

As Angelica M. says: “At the end of the day, a dental assistant will always be an integral part of any dental practice.”