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Remote dental assistants, the latest innovation in dentistry

Nov. 20, 2020
From the success of teledentistry, My Remote Dental Assistant was created. This innovative approach to staffing has helped many practices through these challenging times. Find out if it's right for you from founder Jenn St. Pierre, RDA.

By Jenn St. Pierre, RDA

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread earlier this year, dental offices around the country were forced to close. Many practice owners were not sure how to keep their staff employed and provide the high level of care their patients needed. While some dental offices have been unable to adapt to the new environment, others have found opportunity amid the uncertainty. Most of these offices immediately incorporated teledentistry and remote dental assistants into their daily protocols. This bridged the gap between patients needing care, the practice generating revenue, and maintaining the flexibility to manage a constantly changing environment.

What is teledentistry?

As defined by the American Teledentistry Association, teledentistry is “the use of electronic information, imaging, and communication technologies to provide and support dental care delivery, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, and transfer of dental information.” Teledentistry was introduced by the Department of Defense in 1994 through the Total Dental Access Program (TDA) for the US Army.1

It is useful for providing real-time consultations, diagnosis, dental screening, proposing treatment plans, and collaborating with specialty offices. Teledentistry provides modern and cost-effective services to patients in rural areas that lack access to physical offices, at-home school children, and the elderly in long-term health-care facilities.

What is a remote dental assistant?

With the acceptance of teledentistry as a viable option for treating patients, the concept of remote dental assistants gained traction. The need for flexibility in providing patient care became more critical due to COVID-19. Picture the role of a dental assistant in a traditional office—passing instruments, suctioning, taking x-rays, and more. Rarely would we think about a dental assistant running a dental office from their home. That’s the role of today’s remote dental assistant.

I am a California Registered Dental Assistant and I’m currently a remote dental assistant and patient treatment coordinator for a prosthodontic office in Maine. For several years, my days were filled with scheduling appointments, coordinating between offices and patients, answering the phone, completing insurance tasks, and ensuring charts were maintained. I’m able to use my dental education and experience while working from my home office. It has changed my life for the better!

When the pandemic hit, I was in a much different position from where many assistants were. I was employed. However, given the unpredictability of when dental offices would return to normal, I investigated what opportunities were available that would help dental offices and dental labs find remote dental assistants to keep practices operating. Opportunities were limited, so I decided the industry needed an easy way to connect dental offices and labs with professionally trained remote dental assistants. Myremotedentalassistant.com was born.

Why a remote dental assistant?

Providing excellent patient care is the mission of all dental facilities. Incorporating a remote dental assistant as a critical team member increases the chance to fulfill that mission. With a full schedule it can be easy to become overwhelmed with daily tasks and possibly fall short of providing the best possible care. Remote workers can focus on critical daily tasks and avoid the constant interruptions inherent in a busy physical office.

One Stanford University study showed that people working from home are 13% more productive than their office peers, giving almost an extra day of output per week.2 Retention levels are also known to significantly increase with remote workers because they have less chance of burnout. In addition, sick days decrease when given the option to work from home.

You may be wondering if the benefits of hiring a remote dental assistant are available to your practice. You may have a practice in a small town that has minimal access to professionally trained dental assistants. Or you may need an assistant for peak periods, off hours, or when your “physical” assistant is unavailable (vacation, maternity leave, child-care issues, demands of home-schooling).

Hiring a remote dental assistant lets you expand your search throughout the entire US and not have to rely only on local talent. Practices using teledentistry can rely on remote dental assistants to chart in real time. Especially with the pandemic, using remote dental assistants keeps both patients and assistants safe from other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). In addition, outsourcing to a remote dental assistant can lower office costs (space, salary, uniforms, etc.), reduce bodies in overfilled offices, and save money for office expansions.

Assistants working from a remote location provide many lifestyle benefits for the assistant. Working from home enables the assistant to fulfill personal commitments and have a better work-life balance. An article in Forbes stated that “80% of remote workers reported higher morale and 55% of people felt more stressed as a result of their commute.”3 Reducing commute time, expense, and stress can give 23.5 days per year back to the assistant to focus on other aspects of his or her personal life or career.

Dental professionals working in traditional offices know that conflicts of personalities can arise and cause dynamics and energy to shift. Having an assistant who works independently from a remote location enables the assistant to be a strong team member without the need to integrate with the different office personalities.

As dental professionals, we strive to provide seamless experiences that give patients the highest level of comfort and satisfaction. Time is a precious commodity for patients and offices, and outsourcing tasks to a remote dental assistant can carve more time out for in-office patient care. The assistant can handle tasks in a way that promotes better service for patients. This includes allowing more time to get to know a patient’s needs when booking a new patient and giving the patient the comfort of speaking with a trained dental professional on the phone. Most importantly, this allows the assistant to slow down and give the patient their undivided attention.

What are people saying about My Remote Dental Assistant?

A press release from Dr. Kirsten Roling, CEO of the Virtual Dental Expo, states, “Virtual Dental Expo is thrilled to welcome our newest exhibitor, My Remote Dental Assistant and its founder, Jenn St. Pierre, RDA. As a former registered dental assistant and now a public health dentist and teledentist, I understand firsthand the critical role dental assistants play in improving access to care for patients. With the pandemic, practices can use My Remote Dental Assistant to integrate virtual assistants into their administrative controls, as recommended by CDC guidelines, to protect patients and staff, and many other remote applications to improve practice flow and efficiencies. 

“Also, My Remote Dental Assistant provides assistants with virtual opportunities outside of the dental operatory. Professionally, I believe it is a win-win for the dental profession. My hats off to Jenn for learning from her own experiences as an RDA and creating this innovative company; it is truly a game changer."

What are the next steps?

My Remote Dental Assistant unveiled the dental assistant portal on myremotedentalassistant.com on October 1, 2020. It allows assistants to upload their professional experience (résumé and cover letter) and schedule a 15-minute video interview with a My Remote Dental Assistant team member. The website then hosts assistants’ information free of charge.

A full launch of the site is planned for January 2021. At that time, dental offices and labs will be able to choose the payment plan (free, monthly, quarterly, or yearly) that will work best for them and gain immediate access to the database of qualified assistants. The office will be able to contact the assistants of choice directly and complete the process of introducing remote dental assistants to their practice or lab.

Future enhancements to myremotedentalassistant.com include continuing education courses, training videos to help offices integrate a remote assistant into their daily protocols, and videos that highlight best practices for working as a remote dental assistant.


1. Rocca MA, Kudryk VL, Pajak JC, Morris T. The evolution of a teledentistry system within the Department of Defense. Proceedings. AMIA Symposium: 921–9244. ISSN 1531-605X. PMC 2232632. PMID 10566495

 2. Gorlick A. The productivity pitfalls of working from home in the age of COVID-19. Stanford News. March 30, 2020. Accessed October 1, 2020. https://news.stanford.edu/2020/03/30/productivity-pitfalls-working-home-age-covid-19/#:~:text=The%20experiment%20revealed%20that%20working,home%20to%20the%20whole%20firm

 3.  Loubier A. Benefits of telecommuting for the future of work. July 20, 2017. Accessed September 30, 2020.

Jenn St. Pierre, RDA, graduated in 2015 from the dental assisting program at Carrington College with honors and as a student mentor. She holds an active California Registered Dental Assistant license and has experience working in general dentistry, endodontics, and remote assisting for a prosthodontic office. For more information, contact St. Pierre at [email protected], (701) 314- 4041, or visit myremotedentalassistant.com.