Myth Buster

Myth busters for dental assistants: The only successful assistants are lead assistants

Sept. 24, 2020
Dental assistants persist in believing many myths about their profession, and Tija Hunter has made it her mission to bust those myths. Here's one of the latest that she's heard.

In order to be a successful dental assistant, you have to be the lead assistant. It’s the most valued position for an assistant to have in the office. Right?


There are several things that determine someone’s success, and none of them actually carry the title of “leader.” Bust out of that mindset, and let’s explore some ways you can actually succeed, develop a satisfying career, and love what you do!


I know we hear it all the time, but communication is truly one of the most important things in life. It’s not just how people communicate with you; it’s also how you communicate with others. Are you doing your best to communicate with your coworkers or boss? Sometimes, you’re the one who needs to be better. Do you not have time in your day? Are you too busy and you forget? Make a note to yourself so that you don’t forget!


I can’t stress this enough. When you have a poor attitude, people walk on eggshells around you. Think about a time when a coworker came to the office all huffy and mad at the world. You didn’t want to go near the person for fear of being eaten alive! The same can be said for all of us. Attitudes are contagious. So, go into the office each day with the attitude that you’re going to have a great day, and you will. Only your attitude can dictate your day, so choose to be happy. Hopefully, your attitude will spread.

Efficiency and time management

This is very important for a dental assistant because we need to be organized. Speaking of attitude, nothing will kill my good mood like not being organized and forgetting to have something ready when I need it. For me, going into work early helps me get a head start on my day and therefore, I am much happier throughout the day.

Being accountable

We all make mistakes; it’s part of life. I like to say mistakes are lessons and we learn from them. When you make a mistake, chances are somebody already knows you’re the one who made it, so own up to it! You’ll get more respect if you just admit you screwed up.

Less gossip

Oh boy! If I had a dime! We are all guilty of gossip. Truth is, if we all just did not enter into that dark place of gossiping and being judgmental, we would live in a better world. Don’t even begin to think that people don’t gossip about you, because they do. If all of your “friends” or “teammates” gossip, what makes you think they don’t talk about you? You can become less of a target of office gossip by not sharing your personal drama. It’s personal, so keep it that way! It just creates an environment of negativity and drags everyone down. Be better than that.


Feeling appreciated is something we all want. We work hard, and we want to know that the people around us, both at home and work, appreciate what we do for them. How dare they not recognize us! How dare they not say one word about all of the hard work we go through for them! Well, truth is, you have to give appreciation to get appreciation. We want others to take a moment and thank us, but are we taking the time to thank others? Are we being appreciative? This is another attitude that is highly contagious. When you start living with an attitude of gratitude, and showing those around you that you appreciate them, you’ll see it come back to you. Never let a day go by without thanking your support system.

What does all of this have to do with being successful? Everything! The most successful people love what they do, they love helping people, and they feel satisfied in work. All of these things can help you do that, and I speak from experience. It’s easy to keep going and just “put in your time,” but don’t you want more? Don’t you want the best career and the best life? I know. It’s work, and it’s not the easy way. However, it’s the work that makes it worth it.

You actually can have it all!

To read more Myth Busters from Tija Hunter, visit DentistryIQ and search for "myth busters."

Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA, CDIA, CDSO, CDSH, MADAA, is a member and current vice president of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA), where she holds the honor of Master. Tija is the editor of Dental Assisting Digest and contributes to Dental Economics magazine. She is the director of the Dental Careers Institute, a dental assisting and dental continuing education program, and the author of seven continuing education study courses. She is an international speaker and a certified trainer in nitrous oxide in several states. She can be reached at [email protected].