For dental assistants, the word “just” can be a four-letter word that downplays their role on the dental team. “A lot of us in the dental assisting profession have probably heard people say, ‘Oh, you’re just a dental assistant,’” says Hillary R., CDA, COA, CPFDA, CDPMA.
This is one of the top myths surrounding the profession — because your role in the dental office is extremely important. “I feel we must never forget that we are a valuable employee in the office,” Hillary adds.
We agree! Here are four key reasons that you’re never “just” a dental assistant. Would you agree as well?
You Provide Excellent Patient Care
Patients regularly say the best part of their dental visit is their time spent with the assistant. Some patients are nervous when they arrive but usually report a successful, smooth visit in hindsight — all thanks to your calming nature and dedication to patient care. In fact, some patients return to the office just to see you again! Therefore, it’s safe to say dental assistants play an important role in retaining patients and ultimately increasing the practice’s bottom line.
“I take pride in ensuring that our office can run like a well-oiled machine,” shares Cara P. “It’s all about customer service and the patients.”
You’re the Dentist’s Extra Eyes and Hands
Dental assistants are vital to the dental office. We’ve heard from dentists that they’re so grateful for your skills and intuition. You have an uncanny ability to anticipate their every need before and during the procedure, often handing them instruments before they even ask you for them! Usually, the dental assistant and dentist make a great “four-handed” team!
“My boss of 30-plus years tells me every day that he couldn’t practice dentistry without me,” says Beth C.
You Can Expertly Multitask
For dental assistants, multitasking is critical. 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. This is no small task list, and you’re talented at making doing all these things look easy.
“We’re not ‘just’ dental assistants,” Jeanne E. comments. “We do everything, from ordering supplies, to cleaning the autoclaves, to assisting, and more!”
Successful dental assistants are passionate about their careers and always on the lookout for chances to grow. Many pursue educational opportunities by seeking out a mentor, attending a lunch-and-learn event in the office, or taking continuing education courses in person or online (for example, through the DALE Foundation). Additionally, many dental assistants — 38,000-plus and counting — have earned DANB certification to demonstrate their commitment to professional learning and expansion.
“I’ve had a 10-year career and took five years off to explore other options — but I discovered I did not have the passion for the other jobs like I do for dental assisting,” says Lori D. “I have recently gone back to the field and am pursuing DANB certification. This is such a rewarding career.”