Why dental assistants deserve respect

close up of dictionary entry for word respect

Just like dentists and hygienists, dental assistants are key contributors to any successful dental office. Without them, it’s extremely difficult for any practice to function efficiently.

It’s important to show respect to dental assistants not just during Dental Assistants Recognition Week, but throughout the year. Here are a few reasons why.

They work hard.

Dental assistants are committed to their profession, and they show it every day.

They’re on the go all day long, performing a variety of duties. These include preparing exam rooms, disinfecting the office, helping dentists with procedures, and assisting with numerous administrative tasks. Many dental assistants say they’re the first ones to arrive at the office in the morning and the last to leave in the evening.

“We work hard and help people to the best of our abilities,” says Nicole Cardenas, CDA.

Crystal Walters, CDA, agrees and has a message for her fellow dental assistants: “Thank you for all of your hard work! Sometimes the hours can be demanding, and it’s hard being on your feet all day, but your work doesn’t go unnoticed.”

They are educated.

Dental assistants are educated and highly trained professionals. Many start their career journey as early as high school by taking courses to give them their start in dental assisting. They must master a variety of subjects, from oral anatomy to CPR, radiography, office administration and professionalism. Many school programs also give students the opportunity to complete an externship at a dental practice, providing valuable experience in an office setting.

Learning doesn’t stop for a dental assistant when they get their first job, though. In addition to on-the-job training, many assistants pursue certification or continuing education that furthers their clinical knowledge, enables them to take on expanded duties in the office as their state allows, and helps them provide better care to patients.

With the variety of work they perform every day, there’s no shortage of learning opportunities outside the classroom, either.

“Every day is unique, and you are always learning,” says Desiree Garand, EFDA.

Some in the profession hope to see even more educational opportunities in the future.

“I hope there are a lot of opportunities in the future for dental assistants, like salary growth through continuing education,” says Efrem Kedjela Gina, CDA. “The door is open for those who want to change their future.”

They keep the office together.

Dental assistants perform numerous tasks around the dental office to ensure their teams work efficiently and patients get high-quality care. Many even describe themselves as the “glue” that keeps a dental office together!

Dental assistants are the ultimate team players. They’re involved in nearly every aspect of the practice — from giving their dentists a pair of extra hands during procedures to helping office managers schedule appointments. But they’re still willing to step up and help in other areas when needed.

“There is so much we do,” explains Kim Maggard, CDA, CDIPC, RDA. “We aren’t just helping the doctors. We are charting for hygienists, running the sterilization center, and treatment planning for the business team. Our assistants are the backbone of our office!”

These efforts by dental assistants help the entire team run like a well-oiled machine. Or, as Efrem Kedjela Gina puts it: “When my team comes together and things run smoothly, we are like a winning team during a game. I love those moments when the schedule is running smoothly and everybody is at their best performance.”