A (first) day in the life of a dental assistant

woman holding hands in front of face

Nothing can be more intimidating than your first day on the job. But not everyone’s first day at work includes fainting, removing a patient's toupee or knocking over trays of instruments — unless you’re a dental assistant.

For dental assistants, the first day can be full of surprises or just downright hilarious.

Here are a few ways dental assistants have described their first days on the job. Tell us about your first day in the comments!

You had a clumsy start.

“I was assisting a dentist on my first day of clinical and got my foot tangled in the cords of the portable unit. It tipped over, crashing to the floor, spilling everything! I was appalled! Everyone, including the dentist, started laughing hysterically. The dentist offered me a job upon graduating — and that was 32 years ago!”

—Jani G., CDA

Your co-workers played tricks.

“The other assistants told me that every time I took an X-ray, I had to yell, ‘Fire in the hole!’ I did that for two months until they finally told me it was a joke!”

—Marie I.

You passed out against the wall.

“My first day was 35 years ago. I was observing the dentist for the first time while he gave a child an injection. I felt sick to my stomach, the room started to spin, my palms were sweaty, my heart was racing. The child started to sit up and started making some loud crying sounds, and next thing I knew he started to throw up. I backed up against a wall and passed out.”

—Tami M.

You learned on the job.

"I was on my externship for school and had just finished my tour of the office. The doctor said, ‘Get your lab jacket on and get in there!’ I responded, ‘I've never worked on a real person before!’ and he said, ‘Well, now you will!’"

—Sarah K., CDA

You had a hair-raising mishap.

“On my first day, while taking the bib off a male patient, I ended up accidentally getting his toupee caught in it! I ended up with his hair in my hands.”

—Melanie A.

You were still learning your way around.

“On my first day, I remember falling on top of my patient because I was not comfortable with the assistant's chair yet. Not the best impression — pun intended.”

—Misty G., CDA

How was your first day as a dental assistant? Let us know!