5 Dynamics With Dental Assistants In The Workplace. Which One Are You?

March 8, 2023

The success of any dental office depends on the effectiveness of the team working together to achieve a common goal. Dental assistants are one of the most important members of a dental clinic who play a vital role by providing support to the dentist and ensuring the smooth running of the office. However, the dynamics between dental assistants and other team members can be complex and challenging. In this post, we will explore the relationship between dental assistants and other team members in the workplace. We will also touch base on 5 different positions that you may be able to relate to in your workplace. There is a hierarchy in every Dental office and the DentalTown states the order in which this goes is and the dynamics between dental assistants and team: Dentist, Office manager, Hygienists, and assistants with seniority.

1. Lead assistant and assistant.

The lead assistant is someone who has more experience and responsibilities around the office. They help take charge of the ordering, staying under budget, making sure inventory is stocked, assistants are contributing to the set up and take down duties, (the list goes on). Although there is a power shift in this dynamic, at the end of the day if you’re doing what you were hired for, the lead assistant is there to help guide you and answer any questions you may not know the answer to! Most lead assistants would prefer to be your friend, and not your enemy. The lead assistant helps the office manager in decision making for the back office staff sometimes.

2. Assistant that’s been there 5 years and the assistant who was hired a week ago.

This Senior assistant knows the ins and outs of Dentistry by now. If they aren’t already the lead assistant, you will notice they still hold power around the office. They may even help the office manager on certain tasks as well. For example, training the new assistant that just got hired so that they pick up on all of the correct procedures and habits the Doctor is looking for.

3. Office Manager and assistant.

The office manager is in charge of making sure everyone and everything is running smoothly. They often help with the entire hiring process…and the firing. The office manager's role in a Dental office is extremely important. If you’ve had multiple jobs you can probably recall a manager you really liked, and one you would never work for again. They are going to be helping the Doctor in certain decision making or problem solving. This role takes a lot of work and dedication to keeping your team happy and hopefully a very low turnover rate.

4. Dental Hygienist and assistant.

The Dental Hygienist carries a huge responsibility in the office. They are usually running around all day long with minimal free time in between patients. The assistants are responsible for helping the Hygienists out during this time. Helping probe chart, taking X-rays, cleaning and setting up their rooms, and even being able to do coronal polishings or sealants on patients if certified. Hygienists know how important the assistant is to the office and you’ll usually receive a lot of gratitude for taking the extra time in your busy schedule to help them out too.

5. Doctor and assistant.

This is probably the most important duo in any office. The Doctor is with their assistants day in and day out. With every patient and procedure. As an assistant to the Doctor, you need to know what they need next without even being told. This comes with time and training, but should eventually be an easy task. If you’re constantly having to get up and leave the room, or have appointments set up wrong, this may cause some tension throughout the day. Dental assistants have an important role especially during procedures. The doctor is usually going from room to room so you need to know details like where the anesthetic will go, what tooth or teeth are being worked on, does the patient have any medical concerns before getting started, etc.

Also, communication is key in this relationship. The assistant must be able to effectively communicate with the doctor about any concerns or changes in the schedule, and the doctor must be able to communicate clearly about what they need during procedures. Trust is also important, as the doctor must trust that their assistant is competent and capable of handling their responsibilities.

So, which one are you? Every job in the Dental office is important and wouldn’t function properly if one role was missing. There are many dynamics between dental assistants and team members and they can be complex and challenging.  throughout and the list could go on. If you’re contemplating on which role in the Dental office you think would fit you best, don’t hesitate to ask your local dentist(s) if you can shadow their office for a day! Going into dental, or any schooling pertaining to the dental field, a lot of times offices don’t mind when you shadow them for a day.

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