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Who dental assistants really are


Dear Doctor, We are dental assistants, and we thought you’d want to know who we are.

Dear Doctor,  

We are dental assistants, and we thought you’d want to know who we are.

We’ve been around since 1885, and, as of right now, we outnumber dentists and hygienists. There are more than 300,000 of us, and we have one of the fastest growing jobs in America. We make up the greatest number of oral health care workers yet we are the least educated.

Know the law: Dental assistant regulation and education

A good dental assistant’s job goes way beyond the operatory. We spend more time with the patient than any other team member. We educate, comfort and build strong relationships with each patient in our chair. We promote your practice and boost the level of confidence those patients have in you just by just doing our job!

A trained dental assistant knows how to speak to patients and answer questions and knows the limitations of his or her knowledge. Many times, when the doctor leaves the room, the patients will turn to the dental assistants and ask our opinions. They ask questions and tell us things they would never tell the doctor. We instill confidence in your work and explain treatment plans so the patient understands them. They have confidence in us. The power of a trained team is not only necessary but essential to the growth and success of your practice. A wise man once said, “A successful person doesn’t know everything, but they surround themselves with people that do.”

Nitrous oxide: What dental assistants need to know

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Like any good dental assistant, our goal is simple: to assist you, be your right arm and help you succeed. Our vision is to treat patients as if they were our family, using the latest in infection control practices and giving them peace of mind. We provide them the best possible patient education, answer questions and comfort them. We want to reflect a positive image for our practices, thereby contributing to its success.

Those are the makings of a highly dedicated assistant-one who is appreciated and has been given the opportunity to grow. Nobody likes to become stagnant in their work, and we are no different. If allowed to grow professionally, that growth will be reflected on the atmosphere of the office. Team members who are appreciated and supported are productive and flourish. Those team members can do more for your practice than any marketing tool out there. They will treat your patients with respect, and your patients will, in turn, send you more patients.

Video: The importance of education for dental assistants ... and ideas on where to get it

So now imagine a dental assistant who isn’t appreciated, has been told there is no need to grow or be educated and isn’t allowed to expand themselves and flourish? What will they do for your practice?

Is the atmosphere in your office stagnant? Does your team feel appreciated? Are you allowing your dental assistants to flourish? Your dental team can make you or break you. Investing in them is an investment in you!

I would like to encourage you, the doctor, to take an active part in the growth of your team by promoting educational opportunities for your dental assistants. Support and encourage their growth because you’ll be supporting yourself!

Give them a chance, stand back and watch your team’s attitude and knowledge transform your practice!

From a dental assistant's perspective: Things I wish I could go back and tell my 19-year-old self

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