Dental assisting is a profession that has its challenges, but also has many rewards. We often hear that dental assistants love their career for many reasons, including that no two workdays are ever alike, and there are always opportunities to learn something new.

Beyond these factors, dental assistants say what they find most fulfilling about their role is helping people. Read more insights into the top rewards of the role below, gleaned from DANB’s 2020-2021 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey.

 

Making a difference in patients’ lives

Many dental assistants enter the profession because they simply find joy in helping to transform patients’ lives. No two people in the chair are alike, and this keeps the dental assisting role exciting, interesting and meaningful.

“After 22 years as a dental assistant, I still enjoy my job,” says Tina, CDA. “It’s a wonderful feeling when you can help people smile again.”

 

Helping patients improve their oral health

It’s true: Dental assistants play a critical role in ensuring the delivery of oral healthcare. In the dental office, a successful workday translates to patients’ pain being alleviated, and their smiles made brighter and healthier — partly thanks to their dental assistant educating them and being by their side throughout the entire dental appointment. Dental assistants are proud to help their patients access dentist-recommended treatment. This can feel emotional for all involved.

“I always shed happy tears when I see a patient’s reaction to their restored smile,” says Dory, CDA.

 

Creating and maintaining relationships with patients

Many dental assistants say the best part of their jobs is interacting and connecting with patients — especially with those who have been coming to the practice for years. Some dental assistants even say their patients become like family. This is because successful dental assistants go above and beyond to ensure each and every patient feels welcome, comforted and cared for in the dental office. This isn’t a responsibility that dental assistants take lightly, and their effort rarely is overlooked.

“After 28 years, I’m leaving the practice where I work. One of our patients sent me a bouquet of flowers, thanking me for taking such good care of them and their family for years,” says Janet, CDA. “That really meant a lot to me.”

 

Hearing gratitude from patients

Knowing their dental assistant plays such a pivotal role in their positive dental office experience, patients typically are generous with extending their gratitude and praise. Seeing patients’ smiles, hearing “thank you” from them, and even receiving notes and small gifts from patients can make all the difference in a dental assistant’s day, plus reaffirm their career choice overall.

“I’ve been in the patient chair, so I totally ‘get’ my patients,” says Mary, CDA. “When a patient says, ‘Oh, I’m so glad you’re here, I couldn’t do this without you,’ I take this to heart. Our patients’ gratitude says it all: Dental assistants make a difference.”

 

What is most rewarding about your dental assisting career? Share your thoughts!