This time of year is all about giving thanks for many things, including the meaningful people in our lives. Of course, we believe that dental assistants are among those important people!

And we’re not alone. Through the DALE Foundation’s Value of Dental Assistants to the Dental Practice research, we heard from dental professionals — including dentists, dental hygienists and dental office managers — who agree that dental assistants make crucial contributions to the dental office.

With their insights in mind, we extend a “thank you” to dental assistants — for all the following reasons and more.


You’re a Valuable Member of the Dental Team

We have heard from dental assistants who say they sometimes feel like “just” an assistant. On the contrary, dental assistants are valuable dental team members. In fact, research shows dentists and dental office managers agree that dental assistants make important contributions to the dental practice, including in the key area of practice productivity. For example, dental assistants allow the dentist to move to the next patient more quickly and help to prevent dentist burnout.

“Yes, dental assistants contribute to production,” agrees Melanie H., CDA. “Our doctor lets us do as much as legally possible. The patients only see the doctor for a short time; the majority of the appointment, they spend with me. Without assistants, I believe operatory work would not get done. Thankfully, my doctors realize that.”


You’re the Heart of the Dental Office

Some say that dental assistants are the heart of the dental office. This is because you are so compassionate — especially toward patients who may be nervous. Dental assistants are with patients during their appointments every step of the way, providing comfort and clarity about dental procedures. This doesn’t go unnoticed by the dental team. Both dentists and dental office managers say that good patient care skills are critical dental assistant qualities.

Cindy T., CDA, shares a patient story that warmed her heart. “There was a 20-something patient in my chair who had been undergoing extensive dental treatment, including oral surgery,” she says. “Once, she hugged our dental team members and said, ‘thank you for treating me like a human being,’ because she hadn’t always been treated that way. It broke my heart to hear that, but I’m glad we were able to make a positive difference in her life.”

 

You Keep Patients Coming Back to the Practice

So many patients have said their dental assistant’s presence at chairside, comforting and educating them, has improved their overall outlook about visiting the dental office — so much so, they’re inspired to return. Research supports this, as dentists and dental office managers reported that dental assistants contribute to patient retention.

Marcia A. agrees dental assistants play a key role in keeping patients returning to the dental office: “I believe a patient always comes back to an office that offers a caring environment, and who provides that caring environment? The assistant, of course. I feel rewarded when a patient sincerely says, ‘thank you, you were great, I’ll see you soon.’”


You Play an Important Role in Infection Control

Last but not least, dental assistants’ contributions in the area of dental infection control and prevention are so important. Consider that — according to 99% of recently surveyed dentists and dental assistants — sterilization and disinfection duties are delegated to dental assistants in the practice. Dental assistants may even serve as the dental practice’s infection control coordinator.

“Dental infection control is critical, as it protects both patients and dental team members,” agrees Tania S., CDA. “As dental assistants, we are making a commitment to patients that we are doing everything we can to protect them and take care of them.”

 

Thank you for all you do, dental assistants!