I hope you love your dental assistants the way I love mine! But I don’t know that dentists always realize the true value their dental assistants bring to their practice. So that’s why, during National Dental Assistants Week, I want to talk to you about why I treasure my dental assistants so much.

My first dental assistant is still with me today.

I refer to Michelle as my OG — my Original — because she started my practice with me. She literally walked out of dental assisting school and into my arms. I interviewed her at a Starbucks before my practice was even completely built!

Back then, she didn’t know how to take an x-ray or the first thing about root canals. And I didn’t know anything about starting up a practice! I taught her everything I knew, and we grew together.

I quickly realized the value of teaching my dental assistants as much as I could.

As my assistants gained new competencies, it really took things off my plate. For instance, having an assistant take an x-ray allows me to address another patient in a different room. This has such a high ROI for me, because it allows me to see more patients in a day. The more I can train them, the more production goes up. 

The benefits extend beyond the operatory, too. Now, with the help of my assistants, I can evaluate patients who need treatment. With their skills sharpened, I’ve freed up more of my time.

Training dental assistants boosts their confidence and improves their job satisfaction.

In the early days of my practice, I had a few dental assistants walk out on me. I didn’t have the same mindset then as I do now about their value.

Now I understand that, when I teach them, they feel like I’m investing in them. This makes them valued and like a bigger part of the practice. When I invest in them, they want to invest in me, and that’s where genuine reciprocation happens.

I know they’re doing a great job because I can hear them and see them. When I’m training them on a new skill, I show them, and then I let them do it while I watch 10, 15, or more times. Once they’ve aced it consistently, I let them know they’re ready to do it on their own.

Now they do so much for me! For example, I taught them how to discuss post-op instructions with patients. Now I can hear them from the other room, and their instructions to patients are so on point! They just get it.

It makes me so happy when the patient is dismissed and says, “Wow, the two of you really work well together.” It’s almost like a dance! We’ve studied each other and worked together for so long, we can talk about the weather and pass the instruments. We don’t have to say “endo explorer… plugger…” because we just know, What a time-saver, and what a great way to work with a team!

Trainings in honor of National Dental Assistants Week

There are several things I feel every dental assistant could benefit from knowing. Remember, when they know the WHY behind your treatment, it makes the whole procedure go so much better. That way, it’s not just you who’s caring for the patient, it’s your whole team.

Ideally, your dental assistant should have the same understanding about root canal therapy as you do.

A great place to start is teaching them tools, tricks, and the lingo so they can have the same level of communication as you.

In honor of National Dental Assistants Week, I recommend you have your dental assistants review these two trainings:

Video: The SLOB Rule Explained (6 minutes)

What happens when you have two canals that are superimposed on each other when you’re doing a root canal? It’s really easy to get confused about which canal is which. The SLOB Rule helps you figure it out.

Two Easy Fixes for Your Radiograph Troubles (4 minutes)

What do you do when you run into these two problems with your radiographs: 1) you don’t obtain the entire tooth in your image and 2) you get a cone cut, which happens when your sensor is not centered within your x-ray beam? This training will guide you.

 

I want to hear from you about your working relationship with your dental assistant. What have you taught them? How do they help you? Are you honoring them on National Dental Assistants Week (and every week!) for the value they bring to your practice?

– Sonia

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