For dental assistants, being busy is often just a way of office life.

It’s your responsibility to ensure that the schedule is well-managed, the supply room is stocked, the exam room is prepped, the instruments are sterilized, and the patient and dentist have everything they need for a successful appointment. And this is often just the tip of the iceberg! Whew!

Brittany W. agrees that for dental assistants, being on-the-go is the name of the game. “If you’re not doing at least five things at once, you’re not doing your job,” she says.

With this lengthy to-do list, when do you take a break to eat lunch or even to use the restroom? Read on to learn some assistants’ thoughts on taking a timeout.

 

No — I’m Lucky if I Get a Break!

We’ve heard from some dental assistants who say they usually don’t take a break during the workday, because there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for one.

Nadine F. agrees that her schedule normally doesn’t allow for food. “We sterilize instruments; break down and set up rooms; handle answering phones, filing, and ordering supplies; and assist the dentist — and sometimes, we do not even take a break to eat,” she says.

Cassie D. has encountered the same scenario at her office and typically doesn’t each lunch, either. “I am not one of those lucky ones,” she elaborates. “Don’t get me wrong — I love my job, but we have nonstop patients all day from 9 to 7. I’m lucky if I get a lunch break! There are only two assistants, and we have four rooms. We do it all.”

Margie R. says that she and her teammates try to make it a priority to take brief breaks, particularly to visit the restroom after hydrating throughout the day. But she’s in agreement that it can be tough to schedule them in. “‘Cover for me?’ is the most frequent phrase heard in my office,” she says. “We aren’t denied the right to use the restroom, but we all have the ability to ‘hold it’ at an Olympic level!”

“I really don’t know how we make it through the day,” admits Ingrid M., who acknowledges that break time is often hard to come by where she works. “I guess that’s part of being a multitasker and an expanded duties DA!”

 

Yes — Everyone Must Take a Break!

On the other hand, some assistants say taking a break is extremely important. They prioritize carving out precious time each day to eat lunch or to simply enjoy some relaxing downtime to recharge.

For instance, DeeDee C. swears by participating in lunch-hour yoga and doing some stretching to energize. Tammy B. adds that some fresh air and a brief change of scenery can make all the difference. “I go out to lunch every day,” she shares.

Similarly, Olga D. insists on taking her lunch break. “If you are your healthiest, then you can deliver the best care to patients,” she believes.

Additionally, many dental assistants swear by staying healthy via hydrating. They’re constantly drinking water not only during their break, but also throughout the day. “I keep my water bottle full and close by and try to drink as much as I can, and I sneak a bathroom break in during hygiene checks,” says Katlyn T.

Of course, most assistants also make sure to take their restroom breaks. Most of the time, we’ve heard that this isn’t an issue among employers. “Only in one office did I ever have a problem with taking a bathroom break,” Sandra Z. shares. “At the last office where I worked especially, the manager encouraged us to take breaks. You must!”

Do you make time for breaks during your workday?