Dental assistants know that even if you love your career, not every day is the best. While there’s no shortage of truly great moments in dental assisting, sometimes not-so-great moments also come along — involving difficult patients or even downright squeamishness.

Below, we spotlight stories about some extreme messes that have complicated a dental assistant’s day. Have you had any similar experiences in the dental office? (Like wishing you would have brought your umbrella to work?!)

Read on below, and then share your story if you can relate!

Cleanup Duty

Dental assistants are used to accommodating patient requests to help make their dental visit better. But sometimes, you’re asked to do something unexpected, like babysit. This can be frustrating if you don’t have the time — or can even bring about some problems if you’re unprepared for the task.

“Usually, being asked to watch a patient’s child is not a big deal — but if you are short-staffed, it could be,” says Le Ann S. “One time, we were watching an infant in their car seat at the front desk, and the baby had a dirty diaper. Unfortunately, the parent hadn’t brought a clean diaper along — so it was a stinky mess!”

Sick Days

For the most part, dental assistants are used to fielding the unexpected throughout the workday. After all, you’ve seen it all in the dental office. For many assistants, nothing really surprises or phases you — and you typically don’t become squeamish at the sight of a dental procedure and everything that comes with it.

Inevitably, though, a moment comes along when you’re eager to excuse yourself from the treatment room. Krysten H. shares one example: “We had a patient who broke his denture. When he opened his denture cup, I about lost it. He was using it as a spit container for his chew, along with the intended use! I had to step out of the room when I started dry heaving!”

Janet C. had a similar experience. “A patient had figured out how to keep her upper denture in with a piece of bologna. The smell cleared out the entire office!”

Unexpected Showers

While some workdays are messy, others bring showers. For example, Melanie H., CDA, once found herself soaked on the job, thanks to an overzealous young patient.

“I had given a young patient a rinse with the air-water syringe and, while going to put it back in its holder, accidentally squirted her arm with water,” Melanie explains.

“The patient said she was going to get me back. I thought she was joking, but she proceeded to pick up the syringe and just hosed me down! By the time I got it away from her, my whole scrub top was drenched. It was the middle of a bitter-cold winter, so I had to go on my lunch break freezing!”

You know what they say about bad days — when it rains, it pours!


Have you ever had a messy moment in dental assisting? Tell us about it.