Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 07 Da Conversation 1

Dental assistants, get out of your ruts!

July 5, 2017
The second half of 2017 is full of possibility for your dental assisting career. Here are some ideas that will help you have an even better six months in your dental practice.
Kevin Henry, Cofounder,

The second half of 2017 is full of possibility for your dental assisting career. Here are some ideas that will help you have an even better six months in your dental practice.

This article originally appeared in Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. Subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter here.

July officially begins the second half of the calendar year. Congratulations! You’ve made it through the first half of 2017. For some of you, that may feel like an accomplishment in and of itself. For others, you may be wondering where the time went.

Personally, I look at July as a pivotal month. While it may be the slowest month of the year in many dental practices, it’s also a time when you, as a dental assistant, can recommit yourself to your career and do everything possible to ensure the second half of 2017 is better for you, personally and professionally, than the first six months of the year.

So, what are the important things that you need to do to not only maintain your career, but improve it as well? Here are three thoughts.

Establish communication
This is a great time to make sure your working relationships with your dentist and teammates in the practice are as strong as possible. That means that you have to do everything you can to make your feelings heard and eliminate any gossip or tension within the business.

If you know of a problem developing between you and the doctor or you and another team member, solve the issue sooner rather than later. You can’t let things bubble around the surface until they explode. Think about a splinter. If you get one in your finger, you want to get it out as soon as possible. If you let the splinter just stay in your finger, infection and pain set in. Getting it out as soon as possible is important to your health.

The same holds true emotionally. If you’re holding something inside, it’s only going to fester and become worse. Take the steps necessary to have conversations about things that aren’t going well. Always frame in the context of what is best for business rather than letting things become emotional or personal.

Communication includes talking to your doctor about what motivates you to become better at what you do. Your doctor may think he or she knows what you love to do and why you’re an assistant, but does he or she really know or is it a guessing game?

Open up a conversation about this. Ask questions. Explore how you can get better at what you do every day. See how you can do more of what you love to do on a daily basis. The more you talk about things, the more you’ll learn and the more the doctor will understand about you. It’s not a tough conversation to have, but it’s one that you have to make sure isn’t one-sided. Talk about your passions but also ask questions and listen to the responses. Listening is just as important as you explaining your side of things.

When conversations about passions and interests begin, they can lead to further and deeper conversations about future hopes, dreams, and goals. Take advantage of this opportunity to connect on a deeper level and explain why you love to do what you do.

Do some research
Go to and look up the great resources that the Dental Assisting National Board Inc. provides for you. Learn your state laws and what you legally can and can’t do in your state. Look up what it will take for you to earn assisting credentials in your state. This is a must-visit site for any dental assistant.

Also, do some research on what educational programs are available to you online or in your area. Ask your sales rep what he or she knows. Ask your dental assisting colleagues what has worked for them. Make time in your schedule to not only do the research but to follow up and attend the online or in-person courses.

Don’t do the same old, same old
This follows along with the last point, but don’t be content with doing the same things the same way you’ve always done them. Learn what’s new. Explore new techniques and products. Ask questions if you don’t fully understand what’s being said.

Louis L’Amour is credited with saying, “Nobody got anywhere in the world by simply being content.” I love that quote. I get restless if I do the same thing the same way for too long. I’m always wanting to see what’s new and what’s going to keep me on top of my game. If I never did any research and just kept presenting the same lecture to dental assistants when I travel around the country, my material would get outdated quickly and my audience would suffer. It’s key for me to always be looking for the latest statistics and figures in the dental industry so I can share it with my audience. The same should be true for you with your patients.

For the most current dental assistant headlines, click here.

For the most current dental headlines, click here.

An advocate of today’s dental assistant, Kevin Henryspeaks to dental audiences across the nation on topics that empower dental assistants, helping them recognize the leadership role they hold in the dental practice. He is the cofounder of, a community designed to enlighten, empower, and educate dental assistants.