188959330 © Ernest Akayeu | Dreamstime.com
Thoughtful 64bae09aadd9a

Dental assisting myths: Are you hearing (or spreading) rumors?

July 25, 2023
Do you have questions about your dental assisting career? Are you getting the correct answers? You might be sharing the wrong information and not even know it.

Turns out there’s quite a bit of misinformation floating around out there in dental assisting land. In her travels to practices nationwide, Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA, CDIA, CDSO, MADAA, has picked up on the fact that many DAs believe and unintentionally spread myths … at conferences, meetings, online, and on social media. 

To address this dilemma, Tija began writing a column on DentistryIQ called “Myth busters for dental assistants,” and it's very popular among readers. She no longer writes the column, but the information stands strong and the articles are still well read. Read on, enjoy, and learn. 

Acrylic or gel fingernails are OK at work 

“I can wear acrylic nails, or even gel nails. Sometimes I like to get the little jewels put on them, too. I wear gloves, so it’s perfectly fine.” 

Those nails may be beautiful and popular, but keeping natural nails trimmed and groomed is essential. Tija explains why you may have to part with that perfect nail color and jewel combination. 

The scoop on those pretty fingernails 

Chart notes aren't that important 

“I hate writing chart notes, and I don’t see the point. They’re no big deal, and it’s stupid to write a novel every time a patient comes in.” 

Even though dentists and hygienists are taught how to write chart notes, it’s often the assistants who are asked to write them. But DAs often are not taught how to do this job correctly. Tija wants you to learn why these notes are important and why they should not be ignored.

 The importance of chart notes

Should I know the laws for dental assisting in my state?

“The misinformation about the laws governing dental assisting is amazing. Where do people come up with the wild and crazy versions of what they think is true?”
Tija travels nationwide in her job educating assistants, and DAs and the laws governing them are very different everywhere. As a matter of fact, each state has its own set of laws. What functions dental assistants can do in one state often cannot be done in another. It’s very confusing. How do we stop the craziness that is misinformation out there? Go to the source!

But what is that source? 

I don’t need to become a Certified DA 

“I don’t have to become a certified dental cssistant (CDA). I don’t need to have a CDA to get a job or make more money.” 

Turns out, this statement is true. But Tija wanted to pursue her CDA and says she made the mistake of listening to those who talked her out of it. She was told, “too expensive,” and “too time consuming.” Now that she’s met her CDA goal and a few others, she wants to share why she believes in the value of attaining the dental assisting certification. The value of it will surprise you!

Learn from someone who's been there 

Is dental assisting really a dead-end job? 

Tija has heard that dental assisting is a dead-end career throughout much of her own DA career. She believes that those who say this could not be more wrong, especially in the era of COVID, when assistants are more in demand than ever.

She shares her own journey into dental assisting, why she’s glad she stuck with it, and how the career has changed her life. She encourages her peers to make sure being a DA does not lead to a dead end in their own lives by diving in and making a point to educate themselves.

There’s never a dead end when it comes to education

Cold sterile glutaraldehyde, a subject of concern

In the years since its introduction as a disinfectant/sterilant, glutaraldehyde has been used to disinfect medical equipment that cannot be subjected to sterilization due to intense heat. Yet it’s been linked with a variety of adverse health effects, including asthma, breathing difficulties, respiratory irritation, and skin rashes. But these problems seldom occur if glutaraldehyde is handled properly.

Tija explains the disinfectant, and why you can quit worrying

Should you leave the DA profession?

It’s no secret that COVID cast a cloud over the dental profession that’s still looming. But Tija hopes her peers don’t leave when they’re so badly needed! The demand for DAs is high, and it’s been classified as one of the fastest growing professions. Everyone will suffer if DAs don't return to dental practices. For one thing, patients have come to depend on the honesty of DAs to tell them what’s going on in terms they can understand. For support, Tija encourages membership in a professional DA organization.

 Find out what else she recommends to keep your interest in the DA profession

For more myth busters about the dental assisting profession, visit dentistryiq.com and search "myth busters for dental assistants."

About the Author

Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA

Tija Hunter, CDA, CDIA, CDIPC, CDSH, CDSO, EFDA, MADAA, is a member and former vice president of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA), where she holds the honor of Master. 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].

Updated January 12, 2024