For many dental assistants, the job doesn’t stop when the last patient has been x-rayed and the office is closed for the day. Many assistants continue their work outside the office by volunteering, teaching, or even getting involved in state dental boards.

Diane Grondin, CDA, RDA, is no exception—after keeping her eye on the dental assisting world for over 50 years, her role took her all the way to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry.

Dental assistants in Massachusetts have seen some major changes in the last year: As of January 2015, all dental assistants in the state must register with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry. As an advisor for the state board, Diane played an important role in making these changes a reality. In fact, Diane was the first Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) in the state.

Diane tells us how these changes came about, and what her dental assisting career means to her.


 

Perseverance and tenacity were key.

These changes in the dental assisting regulations in Massachusetts are culmination of years of work by many, many people. They are exciting changes not only because we’ve been working for them for so long, but also because now dentists and patients will be assured that dental assistants are knowledgeable in their duties.

 

The changes caused a stir.

These new regulations caused a stir among dental assistants—especially those who already held credentials. They wondered why they had to go through the additional step of becoming registered. The bottom line is that these new regulations guarantee a standard for oral healthcare providers, which is better for dentists, assistants and the public.

 

I believe dentistry under utilizes its auxiliaries.

I think dentistry has missed the boat when compared with medicine. In the last 40 or so years, dentistry has been slow to move forward and give more responsibilities to auxiliaries. Dental services are still a luxury for many people and those same people don’t always see the value in maintaining their dental health.  Until more people are able to access dental care, progress will continue to be slow.

 

Having the registration number DA00001 is my legacy.

Becoming the first registered dental assistant in Massachusetts didn’t come as a surprise.  Because I served on the working committees to develop the rules and regulations and because I’m a dental board member, I was the test case.  And, two of my closest dental assisting friends are numbers two and three. It was a lot of fun to see it come in the mail and show people what number I was.

 

At first, I was ready to give up.

I’ve noticed that some dental assistants have a hard time getting started, and I can relate—the start of my career was challenging. But then I found a great doctor who was supportive and we worked well together. Sometimes it can be a tough field to get into, but if you keep at it, keep your certification current, and continue your education, you will find the right fit.

 

How have state regulations impacted your career? Tell us in the comments!