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The one word dental assistants should never say

Feb. 23, 2018
After talking with dental assistants around the country, there's one word Kevin Henry would remove from their vocabulary. What is it, and why does it need to be tossed out?
Kevin Henry, Cofounder,

This article originally appeared in Dental Assisting Digest e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative monthly ENL designed specifically for the dental assistant here.

Whether or not you’re a fan of country music, I have one simple request for you sometime this week. Listen to Eric Church’s song, “Kill a Word.” It’s well worth a few short minutes of your time and you can hear it by clicking here. It’s become one of my favorite songs because it talks about all of the words in the English language he would like to eliminate, including “hate,” “fear,” “disgrace” and many others.

When I speak to dental assistants around the country, I also throw in a word I would take out of the English language and the dental industry. I would eliminate the word “just.”

You see, I’ve heard countless dental assistants introduce themselves as “just” a dental assistant. I’ve heard dentists introduce their assistants as “just” an assistant. To me, “just” is a word that undermines any confidence you might have in a person and his or her skills.

I remember a few years ago that there was a strong push in the dental industry to have patients stop saying their prophy was “just a cleaning.” There is more importance to that appointment than “just a cleaning” because of everything we know about the oral-systemic link and oral cancer screenings. Having it be called “just a cleaning” was not enough for dentistry, it seems. The dental community wanted “just” eliminated then. I am still banging that drum to this day.


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You see, you’re not “just” anything. You’re not “just” a spouse or parent. You’re not “just” a son or daughter. You’re somebody special. You matter. As an assistant, you make a difference—in the eyes of your patients and to the bottom line of your practice.

Don’t demean yourself by saying you’re “just” anything. Always remember, you’re the dental assistant. You’re the backbone of the practice. You’re the rock star who makes the entire office hum. If you call in sick, it’s a bad day in the practice, right?

“Just” is the one word that a dental assistant should never say. Be proud of who you are and what you do every day. Be proud of the role you play in changing a patients’ lives every day. So, go ahead, kill the word “just” in your vocabulary. You’ll be glad you did.

Link of the month

Recently on IgniteDA, I was honored to have Tom Viola, RPh, CCP, as part of our free monthly Webinar series.

What role does the dental assistant have when it comes to the medical condition of patients? We talked health histories, knowledge of patient medications, a little dose of pharmacology, and more with Viola. Known for his “Pharmacology Declassified” lectures and way of thinking, Viola helps dental assistants understand why this year is the perfect time to start new habits, both personally and professionally. And, these habits can make a difference in your patients’ health as well. How? We talked about that too.

Click here to listen to our free Webinar on IgniteDA. Sure, you’ll need to be a member of IgniteDA, but that’s free as well. What a deal! Join us in the community that empowers, enlightens, and educates dental assistants.

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.
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About the Author

Kevin Henry | Cofounder,

With more than 20 years in the dental publishing industry, Kevin Henry is the former editor of Dental Assisting Digest. He now serves as the co-founder for IgniteDA, a community designed to empower, enlighten, and educate dental assistants. He has spoken to dental assistants throughout the world, in person and through the Dental Assistant Nation podcast series, reminding them of the important role they play every day in their practice.