Dental Assistant Week, held every first full week in March, is a special time to appreciate those amazing professionals who have helped you maintain healthy teeth. Can you believe that the dental assistant profession was born when Dr. C. Edmund Kells began using his wife as an assistant in his dental practice? Dental assistants are integral members of a dental team that support dentists and patients during procedures and perform administrative duties. Their responsibilities include helping patients improve their oral hygiene skills, preparing patients for dental procedures, taking dental impressions, exposing dental radiographs, infection control, recording patient notes, and scheduling appointments.
History of Dental Assistant Week
While the dental assistant profession only started in 1885, its history can be traced as far back as 7000 B.C. when the history of dentistry began. Archaeological evidence revealed that dentistry was a profession practiced during the Stone Age in the Indus valley. This form of dentistry included curing tooth-related disorders with bow drills. In 5000 B.C., an ancient Sumerian text showed that dentists believed that tooth worms cause dental caries.
That belief was perpetuated across ancient India, Egypt, Japan, and China, and it was even included in the Homeric Hymns. No one debunked that theory until the 1700s. By the 19th century, dentistry was a fully established profession, with the founding of the world’s first dental school in 1840, the formation of the American Dental Association in 1859, and the invention of various dental tools and equipment.
In 1885, Dr. Edmund Kells, a New Orleans dentist, pioneered the dental assistant profession by allowing his wife to assist him in his practice. As his dental clinic grew, Kells hired another woman, Malvina Cueria, as a full-time assistant. The introduction of these assistants to his practice helped Kells attract more female customers. Before the end of the century, other practices were already advertising, like “Ladies in Attendance”, to get more female clients.
In 1917, the first dental assistant society was founded in Nebraska, and another one was established in New York in 1921. After the first national convention of dental assistants in 1924, the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) was founded in 1925. Dental Assistants Recognition Week was later created by the ADAA to recognize the contributions of dental assistants to the dental profession and public dental health.
Dental Assistant Week timeline
The earliest evidence of dentistry dates back to the Indus valley, where tooth-related disorders are treated with bow drills.
Dr. Edmund Kells allows his wife to assist him in his practice, making her the first dental assistant.
The first dental assistant society emerges in Nebraska.
The American Dental Assistants Association becomes officially incorporated in the state of Illinois.
Dental Assistant Week FAQs
Can you make a living off of being a dental assistant?
Dental assistants earn an average annual salary of $39,770, which is enough to cover your living cost in a year. However, that depends on your number of dependents and lifestyle.
What is the highest paying dental assistant specialty?
While there is no higher paying dental assistant specialty, earning a Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and a Certified Dental Assistants (C.D.A.) certificate makes you more valuable than a non-certificated holder.
Is a dental assistant a profession?
Yes, dental assistants are a professional career in the dentistry field. Dental assistants mainly provide support to the dental team and patients during operations, offer oral health education, and carry out administrative duties.
How to Observe Dental Assistant Week
Give your dental assistant a gift
Gifts are sometimes the best way to show your appreciation to your dental assistant, especially when you go for the ones that can last for a lifetime. If you are an employer, decorate your practice with balloons and banners and personally hand out gifts to your assistants. That may include mugs with their names on them, flowers, or a thank-you card. Get creative and surprise them.
Take them out for lunch
Nothing beats a free meal. Take your dental assistants out for lunch at a favorite restaurant and use that opportunity to build a deeper bond among your staff.
Show your appreciation on social media
Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, have an appreciation feature that allows you to give a shout-out to your coworkers and publicly recognize their effort. You can use that feature this Dental Assistants Recognition Week to appreciate each of your dental assistants. Instagram is another place where you can use pictures of you and your dental assistant working together with a short message to show your appreciation.
5 Interesting Facts About Dentistry
Tooth decay is prevalent in the U.S.
After the common cold, tooth decay is the most common disease in the U.S.
That is the total amount of time an average American spends brushing their teeth over a lifetime.
Blue over red
People are more likely to choose blue toothbrushes over red ones.
Everyone’s tongue print is unique
Like our fingerprints, each person's tongue print is unique to them.
Dental health is heart health
Research revealed that maintaining good dental health is essential to preventing heart attacks.
Why Dental Assistant Week is Important
Dental assistants are essential to a dental team
Having an assistant in their name doesn’t diminish their value in the dental team. Dental assistants’ versatility makes them fit into any role in a dental practice. They can carry out any essential duty from providing support during a dental operation, offering oral health education and advice, to performing administrative responsibilities.
It makes dental assistants feel valued
Everyone likes to know their efforts are valued and appreciated by their employer, and Dental Assistants Recognition Week is a perfect time for that. Many employers use this week to organize team luncheons or outings, share gifts, or send personal thank-you notes. Use this Dental Assistants Recognition Week to show your appreciation to your dental assistant.
Dental assistants can reflect on their dentistry journey
Dental assistants can use the week to reflect on their journey so far, discuss their professional ambitions, and set long-term and short-term goals they want to achieve before the next Dental Assistants Recognition Week.
Dental Assistant Week dates