How dental teams can show appreciation to their dental assistants

tooth shape cutouts with party hats and silver stars on blue background

With Dental Assistants Recognition Week (DARW) on the horizon, it’s time to acknowledge and celebrate dental assistants for their many contributions. Dental assistants undoubtedly enjoy when they get appreciation from anyone, whether it’s a co-worker or a patient. But it can mean a little extra when it comes from their dentist.

Like employees in any profession, dental assistants want to know their employer values their efforts day in and day out. It helps dental assistants stay motivated and engaged, and it keeps office morale high. In turn, that can create loyalty and increase retention among dental assistants.

“Most offices and doctors do well with this throughout the year, but a focused appreciation really makes you feel good and want to keep striving to be better,” says Angel Jones, CDA.

“Our doctors are fantastic at showing appreciation throughout the year. But it always means a little more during DARW,” says Kim Maggard, CDA, CDIPC, RDA.

Here’s how dentists and other dental team members can show their gratitude for dental assistants during and beyond DARW.

Say thanks

A simple thank-you can go a long way. Whether their dentist verbally says thanks at the end of a workday or writes a handwritten note, dental assistants want to know their hard work isn’t going unnoticed.

Expressing thanks is especially appreciated when a dental assistant goes above and beyond, such as staying late or taking on extra patients. However, it also means a lot when they’re recognized for doing routine, everyday tasks that are essential to running a safe, efficient practice and keeping patients healthy.

“My boss always does something special for me during DARW. But I am so fortunate to be working for someone as genuine and kind as he is. He thanks me every single day,” says Laura Ruscio, CDA, CPFDA, CRFDA, EMT-B.

Dental assistants also do a lot behind the scenes to ensure the practice functions optimally and patients get the best care.

“We do so much every day to help the practice and doctor succeed and make parents and children comfortable with the dental experience. Behind the scenes, there’s ordering, cleaning, stocking and so much more. It’s nice to be appreciated,” explains Deborah Deschene, CDA.

Buy a meal

You can’t go wrong with food! Bringing the dental assisting team breakfast or lunch can get everyone’s spirits up and show appreciation for their hard work. Some dentists and office managers even celebrate DARW by bringing in breakfast, lunch or snacks every day.

“I will order lunches throughout the week, bring in breakfast, and give little gifts here and there — possibly a cash gift to top off the week,” says Denise Hall, a dental practice administrator.

It can be extra special to take the team to lunch or close the office early to get dinner.

“We get to order lunch every day for that week at our favorite places,” says Loretta Klein. “One year, we were surprised with a spa day!”

Pay for ADAA dues or DANB certifications

Dental assistants work hard to maintain their knowledge and keep up with the latest developments in the industry. In addition to maintaining membership with the American Dental Assistants Association, many dental assistants seek out certification or recertification through DANB and pursue continuing education through courses from the DALE Foundation.

However, these efforts aren’t free. By covering these costs, dentists can demonstrate their appreciation. They also show a commitment to their team’s professional development and providing the best patient care possible.