Are Your Dental Assistants Costing You Money?

Dental assistant cross training skills

Have you ever wished for an extra set of hands in your practice? Dental assistants are the help you need, and so much more. They are the face of your pediatric dental practice and ambassadors of your brand. Dental assistants with the right training can bring an extra layer of profitability to your pediatric dental practice.

Dental Assistants – More than just an extra set of hands!

The basic expectation of a dental assistant is to assist the dentist, in addition to cleaning and preparing instruments. However, they might be one of the most underutilized tools in your practice if you just leave them to that.

As they grow and gain experience, assistants can take on additional roles and responsibilities, even being the extra set of eyes that prevents you from making a mistake one day. They don’t just sterilize instruments or provide suction when you need it, but can demonstrate their flexibility by helping  in other areas like radiographs, patient/parent education, and behavioral guidance.

While you’re quickly moving from patient to patient, the assistant is usually the team member that patients spend the most time with. This provides them with many opportunities for positive interaction with your patients.

Important Roles of the Dental Assistant:

  • They make you look good. Dental assistants can be a big boost to retention and revenue when they speak with patients. They can build confidence in the dentist with a nervous patient and their parents, pick up on important information about the child’s condition, and even improve case acceptance. Pediatric dental assistants can be effective treatment coordinators, helping parents with their insurance and other benefits.
  • They maintain treatment rooms. The greatest value of an assistant is that they enable the dentist and hygiene team to focus completely on care. Tubs, trays, cleaning, cabinets, treatment rooms – assistants can keep a clean, organized treatment area for you.
  • They’re good with people. This is one of the key traits to look for in a dental assistant, as there is a lot of value added with someone that can help comfort and soothe patients. They’re often the ones that can learn the most about a patient. Referrals and reviews often come because of a friendly dental assistant.
  • They keep your practice running on time. One of the most important things a DA can do is keep your practice on schedule. Assistants can keep an eye on the schedule, prepare operatory rooms, and get patients seated so they are ready to go as soon as you walk in.
  • They can help out elsewhere. In addition to DA-specific tasks, there are dozens of things they can help out with around the practice. The more diverse their knowledge and skill set, the more value they provide for the dental practice. Depending on the state, they can perform roles in hygiene, radiology, photography, or take impressions. They can even cross-train up front so that you have someone that can take over in an emergency. With over 100 training modules available from the Pediatric Dental Assistants Association, cross-training is even easier for your office than before.

Continuing Education

Having dental assistants that continue to grow will steadily increase their value to your practice.

I can say with some authority that respecting dental assistants by encouraging them to learn, continue their education, and take on more responsibility improves their job satisfaction tremendously.

Over time, as doctor and assistant establish confidence in one another, the doctor can delegate many procedures to their assistant, creating many more opportunities for the practice. Dental assistants shouldn’t cost  you money; they are an investment that grows the more you use them!

Want to know how else to make your pediatric dental practice more profitable? Download our free Practice Profitability Guide, today!


~ Dr. Rhea Haugseth