A day in the life of a dental assistant
What does a day in the life of a dental assistant look like? The truth is, it’s hard to pinpoint because every day in dental assisting varies. That’s the beauty of the role — as Nora M. says, variety is the spice of life!
“Every day brings something and someone different,” agrees Sue M. “After 30 years, dental assisting still doesn’t get old for me.”
While it’s true no two days are alike in dental assisting, there are a few things about a dental assistant’s work life that remain steadfast regardless of what the day brings. Below, we look at all the ways you could describe a day in the life of a dental assistant.
Of all the words you could choose to summarize a dental assistant’s day, there’s one that may be best: busy.
Let’s face it: Dental assistants do a lot over the course of a workday. For example, you prepare the treatment room; you maintain the schedule and ensure the team is sticking to it; you interact with patients before, during and after procedures; and you assist the dentist chairside. And these are just some of the many duties on your plate.
“Dental assisting is challenging for this very reason,” shares Ebony M. “We work all day, doing 20 things at one time, sometimes with no lunch break.”
This fast pace can be stressful for even the most organized dental assistant. “Every day as a dental assistant is hard,” admits Carly R.
That said, for many dental assistants, an on-the-go schedule is welcomed. “I like busy days. They pass by fast,” says Karla F.
Additionally, many dental assistants say they never walk away from a day at the dental office without having learned something new on the job. That’s another awesome part of the role: You’re always growing as a professional, with each day bringing another patient, procedure and piece of wisdom.
This has been Tania N.’s experience in the dental office. “You learn different things every day, no matter where you work,” she says.
“Dental assisting sometimes can be very challenging, but I’m always able to learn,” agrees Amelia B. “This is why I look forward to working every day. I love it!”
As a group, dental assistants pride themselves on being organized professionals. You strive to keep the workday running smoothly from start to finish. To do this, many of you keep meticulous notes in day planners. You also may participate in a team huddle, or meeting, first thing in the morning — when the entire team discusses the anticipated schedule.
But as they say … even the best laid plans can go awry! If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that things can change in the dental office. Late or no-show patients, appointments that run long, unexpected procedures and changing treatment plans — these are just a few of the reasons you must always remain flexible and think on your feet.
Denise M., CDA, CPFDA, CRFDA, CDPMA, certainly has learned this lesson in her career. “As a dental assistant, your team members could change, or you could set up for one procedure but then the treatment plan may change,” she explains. “You can’t get upset. You have to be flexible and go with the flow.”
While dental assisting can be busy and sometimes stressful, the majority of you say the role is extremely fulfilling overall.
Each day brings an opportunity to help patients, which many dental assistants consider a reward in and of itself. Helping connect patients to needed oral healthcare and seeing their smiles, self-confidence, and gratitude can be the best part of the workday.
Gabrielle R. agrees those heartwarming moments with patients are priceless. Particularly, she remembers one young woman who finally smiled after receiving dentures. “It was a hard and emotional journey for her,” Gabrielle recalls. “That moment in the day when you hear a patient say you helped to make it a bit easier for them? That’s what makes it all worthwhile.”
What’s your day as a dental assistant like? Let us know!