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Podcast: Ethics and what they mean to dental assistants

July 18, 2019
Has there been a decline in ethical values in the dental profession? How can dental assistants change this perception? By always being ethical and a good example in the practice.
Kevin Henry, Cofounder,

C.S. Lewis gave us one of the simplest yet most powerful quotes of all time: “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one else is watching.”

I have thought about that quote many times during my 20-plus years in the dental industry. There are so many opportunities every day for us to choose to do the right thing or the wrong thing, when there are patients around us and when there is nobody around us. 

One of my dear friends in the dental industry is Susan Gunn, who is a great speaker, prolific author, and certified fraud examiner. She’s the person who is often called in when horrid things happen in the dental practice because someone made the wrong choice and will now pay the price for doing just that. 

I was talking to another friend recently about the seeming decline of ethics in our society, and we started talking about ethics in the dental practice. We talked about a number of scenarios that might involve dental assistants, including embezzlement, and knowingly not doing what is best for a patient. A few minutes turned into almost an hour on the subject as my friend shared some horror stories she had witnessed, and I showed her some of the posts I’ve seen in various Facebook groups for dental assistants. 

I brought up some of the scenarios we discussed with Susan, who is a huge advocate for increased ethics in dentistry, in the latest Dental Assistant Nation podcast, powered by IgniteDA. One of the biggest things I’ve seen lately are discussions about whether single-use items in the practice are truly single-use (spoiler alert: they are). However, I know that hasn’t stopped some dental practices from using their sterilizers to get single-use items ready to be used again . . . and again . . . and again. 

Forgive me for getting on my soapbox here, but that is completely wrong. If that’s me in your chair, I want to know that my health and well-being is your number one concern rather than saving a few dimes here and there.

Dental assistants, doing the right thing all of the time means just that, all of the time, even when no one else is looking or might not even know the difference. Will I know that what you’re putting in my mouth is a shortcut or money-saving idea? Probably not, but you will. And that’s the key. If you know what you’re doing is wrong, why are you still doing it? 

In this 20-minute podcast, Susan and I talk about your role in the business of the practice, as well as some of those ethical dilemmas that seem to be happening in practices today. Take a few minutes and listen to our talk here. 

This is part of the Dental Assistant Nation podcast series that is designed for every dental assistant and is completely free. You can find Dental Assistant Nation on Stitcher, Google Play, or iTunes, so I hope you’ll become a listener and subscriber today. It’s about getting all dental assistants the resources they need to succeed, and this is one of them. 

My hope for you? That you find a practice where the right thing is always done for the patient. I know not every practice is like this, and that’s a shame. Together, let’s work on changing that before the dawn of 2020. It just takes good people doing good things.



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

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.