4 things dental assistants can look forward to in 2023

a road with arrows pointing ahead to upcoming years: 2023, 2024, and 2025

As the new year approaches, it’s a good time to refresh your mindset and remember why you do what you do. After all, despite challenges, there are still many exciting and gratifying aspects to dental assisting. Below are just a few things you can look forward to in 2023.

More job opportunities

The dental assisting shortage means you’re in demand, which could allow you to pursue better pay, benefits, or hours. As of October 2022, research from the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute showed that 36.7% of practices are looking to hire dental assistants. If you’re unhappy with your compensation, look into opportunities at other offices to see if they’ll provide what you deserve.

Staffing shortages have also opened other opportunities within the field, such as temporary or travel dental assisting. These jobs allow you to work as a “fill-in” at different offices that need dental assistants and are currently understaffed. DANB’s Salary and Satisfaction Survey showed that temp and traveling dental assistants earn slightly more money than traditional full-time or part-time dental assistants, potentially signifying that practices are willing to pay more to fill staff vacancies.

Being part of a team

A dental office could not function without any one member of the team. Between dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and office managers, everyone works together to achieve common goals — from ensuring safe patient visits to keeping the appointment schedule on track.

“The hygienists I work with are incredibly knowledgeable, and they are excellent at what they do,” shares Karen. “We help each other, and we all work together to take care of our patients.”

Because dental teams work so closely together, they often become close-knit, which can make work more enjoyable for dental assistants and help them get through even the toughest of days.

“One of the best experiences at work has been the times when the team comes together to get through a really tough day,” says Nicole.

“I’m so thankful I work in an office with a great team and a great doctor who appreciates us all,” says Arah.

Expanding knowledge and responsibilities

Dental assistants are always learning, whether through on-the-job experience or continuing education. Many dental assistants enjoy learning and soak up every opportunity to expand their knowledge.

The dental assisting shortage has also opened new doors for dental assistants to increase their knowledge and take on more duties in the dental office, such as expanded functions. According to DANB’s Salary and Satisfaction Survey, 54% of dental assistants hold a state-specific expanded functions credential and 56% perform expanded function duties at their practices. Additionally, 25% of dental assistants plan to pursue expanded functions in the future.

Making a difference in patients’ lives

At the end of the day, there’s nothing quite like interacting and building relationships with patients. Dental assistants have a special connection with patients, from greeting them, explaining procedures, and answering questions, to helping improve their smiles, confidence, and oral health. Even on the most stressful of days, these interactions can be uplifting for dental assistants.

“Although some days are longer than others, the joy patients get from our care is the best reward,” says Nicole.

Read more: Why dental assistants deserve respect