Recognition and rewards -- Dental Assistants Recognition Week 2010

Feb. 16, 2010
Dental assisting deserves recognition, so celebrate your profession during Dental Assistants Recognition Week, March 1 through 7.

“Acronyms for Everybody” (AFE) could well be an American slogan because it seems like everybody uses them.

Just look at dental assisting. We all know CDA, EFDA, EDDA, and RDA, to name a few. I certainly hope that all of you know ADAA, the American Dental Assistants Association, and our two acronyms, FADAA (Fellow) and MADAA (Master). These are two of the programs we've developed to recognize achievements in our profession.

After all, that’s what this is all about ... recognition. That’s the reason for DARW, Dental Assistants Recognition Week, March 1 through 7. DARW has been around since 1978, yet still a lot of people in dentistry are surprised to hear about it, and that includes a lot of dental assistants. So let me take a moment to tell you why it’s important to you.

Everyone talks about “the dental team,” but I often hear, “I’m not a dentist or hygienist, I’m just a dental assistant.” Well there’s no “just” about it. The dental assistant may or may not be the captain of the team, but he or she is often the MVP. Assistants take radiographs, prepare the operatory, prep the patient, assist the dentist and sometimes the hygienist, instruct patients on postop care and oral hygiene, are often in charge of infection control, order supplies, and work in the front office. Basically, we do whatever it takes to keep the office ticking.

Many of us take our hard-earned experience and put it to use in dental assisting education, sales, customer relations, and the insurance business. We are a versatile, progressive force in the field of dentistry, and we are nobody’s “just” anything! We have much to be proud of, and DARW gives us the opportunity to blow our own horn and encourage our employers and other team members to blow it for us too!

There are many ways to get this done and it would take pages and pages to tell you. But if you visit the ADAA Web site at, or even the ADA Web site at, you can view the things that many dental assistants, employers, schools, ADAA components, and even the military did to celebrate DARW 2009. You can get our online kit with ideas, press releases, pointers, and even inexpensive items that can be purchased online that relate to DARW or dental assisting.

ADAA itself is all about recognizing dental assistants. We are the people who make dental assisting a profession and we do so through the development and recognition of excellence.

Did you know that ADAA pioneered the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential as the certifying board of the ADAA, and then spun it off as a separate entity, now known as DANB? Did you know ADAA initially developed the standards of accreditation for dental assisting programs, known as CODA, now operated by the American Dental Association?

Along with generous grants from Oral-B, we have long operated the annual scholarship programs that recognize outstanding student members of the ADAA. We offer the Fellowship and Mastership programs to our members who seek advanced recognition. ADAA’s annual awards program recognizes members in cooperation with Henry Schein and Sunstar America for outstanding achievements during the year. Applications and information for scholarships, awards, and Fellowship and Mastership are all available on our Web site at

Let’s go public with these great things. Don’t be shy about asking your practice manager, employer, or instructor to give a nod to your profession during DARW. Take a look at the kit and get some ideas, or build on our ideas and create your own. Dental Assistants Recognition Week, March 1 through 7, could be the beginning of something great for the dental assistants on your dental team. Be sure to tell us what you do so we can share it with others!

Dental assisting deserves recognition, so celebrate your profession!

Angela M. Swatts, CDA, EFDA
President, ADAA