Why appreciating dental assistants elevates the entire practice

thank you neon sign

Dental assisting is an extremely rewarding career, and never “just” a job.

So say the dedicated dental professionals who have committed to building a career in the dental assisting profession and all it involves — helping others through teamwork and juggling many important duties behind the scenes each day, to ensure the workday goes smoothly.

For dental assistants, feeling seen and appreciated by their patients and peers keeps them all the more engaged to reach further. When dental assistants feel valued at work, it can make all the difference for them personally and professionally — plus benefit the dental practice in the following ways.

Dental assistants who feel supported learn and do more in the dental office.

Successful dental assistants understand the importance of not only building their experience in the dental office, but also completing continuing education to help leverage their skills and knowledge. And most dentists agree that educated dental assistants help the practice thrive.

In fact, many dental assistants say it’s their dentist who introduced them to opportunities to learn more in their career — for example, through the online education available through the DALE Foundation, DANB’s affiliate, or pursuing DANB certification. Assistants who successfully demonstrate willingness to learn are likely to contribute more in the dental office — by taking on expanded functions duties as allowed in their state, having a hand in ensuring dental infection prevention and control, cross-training into dental office management, and more.

By knowing and doing more in the dental office, dental assistants can take work off the dentist’s plate, better support their teammates and patients, and overall make greater impacts to the practice’s bottom line.

Dental assistants who feel they’re making a difference are more motivated.

Dental assistants agree that one of the top rewards of their role is impacting patients’ lives. It can be emotional for dental assistants to hear just how much they’re helping improve patients’ smiles, confidence and overall oral health, especially when such recognition comes from the patients themselves. Those dental assistants who recognize their important role in patient success can feel more motivated to go the extra mile for them.

Dental assistants’ ongoing, visible dedication to patient care is important for the practice overall.

“Our positive attitude and caring nature can help encourage patients to get the treatment they need,” agrees Trish.

Dental assistants who feel valued are more likely to stay with the practice and the profession.

Dental assistants who feel they’re valuable members of the dental team, and that they’ve found their “dental home” among their colleagues and patients, are less likely to look for other work opportunities, either in the dental assisting profession or a different industry altogether.

This fact is hugely important for employers to keep in mind — given the turnover of dental assistants in dental offices nationwide, coupled with the reported lack of qualified applicants to fill open positions in many locations.

Dentists who take extra steps to show staff appreciation are more likely to retain them. Such efforts can include providing a good salary and benefits, offering opportunities for advancement, encouraging professional growth, and simply telling all team members, and especially dental assistants, “Thank you. I appreciate you. I couldn’t have done it without you.”