5 things you wish the dentist knew

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Many dental assistants regularly tell us they have the best bosses. However, others have shared that they sometimes feel frustrated with the dentist. Some feel underappreciated and as if their role is not always seen as valuable. Consider these perspectives:

“Assistants definitely deserve more credit than what they get,” says Jerrica.

“I have felt like I’m ‘just’ an assistant. That’s the way I’ve been made to feel,” shares Angelica.

Do you ever feel this way? We’ve compiled a list of the top things that assistants wish the dentist knew.

1. I’m willing to go above and beyond for patients

For most, assisting is much more than a job. It’s a calling. Many dental assistants are drawn to the profession because they’re compassionate and enjoy helping others. You’re dedicated to alleviating patients’ fears and concerns so they can have the best experience — and hopefully want to return to the dental office.

Additionally, you care about helping the patient achieve a healthy mouth and smile. In fact, to provide the best patient care, many assistants are driven to pursue continuing dental education. Informed dental assistants can share knowledge with patients, helping them understand and accept dentist-recommended treatments.

“To be a great dental assistant takes a lot of heart,” says Kathy. “There’s no better reward than a big hug from your patients at the end of their appointment.”

2. I’m an asset to the dental team

In the dental office, dental assistants perform valuable duties. These may include critical infection control tasks and, for some, expanded functions. Assistants typically also manage the schedule and spend critical face time with the patients. Sometimes, they even impact whether patients return to the office for future care. However, some assistants still feel as if their role is misunderstood or minimized — even by the dentist.

“Most dentists don’t seem to even realize all that we do,” Barbara feels.

Read more: How dental teams can show appreciation to their dental assistants

3. I’m eager to learn

While some dental assistants graduated from a formal dental assistant school, others were trained on the job. Regardless of how they entered the profession, all successful dental assistants know the key to growing in the role is pursuing continuing dental education (and DANB certification!). They also are eager to learn from experienced, knowledgeable mentors such as the dentist. After all, dentistry is an ever-evolving field, with new technology and procedures consistently arising.

“Getting an education gave me a great jump-start into the profession with confidence, but there’s nothing like a few years of real-life, hands-on experience, too,” says Allison.

4. I’m trying my best

Most dental assistants are willing to learn. However, and understandably, some can become frustrated with the learning curve that usually accompanies trying new things. Thus, assistants appreciate when their teammates and the dentist recognize their effort and patiently help them get up to speed.

Stephanie admittedly has had a rough start as an extern. “I am trying,” she shares. “I am on my third week of my externship. It takes me longer to learn than others, and it’s hard.”

5. Gratitude goes a long way

Dental assistants can become discouraged if the dentist appears to be unappreciative of all the work they do. They agree that receiving a simple acknowledgment of a job well done from the dentist can make all the difference.

“I love what I do — especially when the doctor praises and appreciates my work,” says Guadalupe. “The doctor always says thank you to me.”

In fact, hearing “thank you” can reassure everyone they’re anything but “just” assistants. On the contrary, dental assistants are vital members of the team.

“At the end of the day, a dental assistant will always be an integral part of any dental practice,” Angelica adds. “Dental assistants know more about the office than almost anyone.”

Read more: Why you’re not “just” a dental assistant