The importance of dental assistants learning the latest technology

By Kevin Henry, DrBicuspid.com editor in chief

November 12, 2019 -- I recently wrote an article about the three skills that I believe every dental assistant should have. Of course, those aren't the only skills that a quality dental assistant should possess.

As I worked this weekend on my presentation to dental assistants at the upcoming Invisalign GP Summit in Las Vegas, I was reminded once again how important it is for today's dental assistant to have the knowledge about what today's technology can do and how it fits into the workflow of the practice, as well as the confidence to talk about it with patients when they have questions or concerns.

Kevin Henry
Kevin Henry.

I recently spoke to dental assistants at the ACT Dental Assistant U event in Rosemont, IL. One of the components of the two-day event was a chance for dental assistants to have hands-on time with the Primescan intraoral scanner (Dentsply Sirona) and receive instruction from a local Patterson Dental technology advisor. I watched as the assistants worked with Primescan (as well as the iTero intraoral scanner and 3Shape) and asked questions. That hour was so valuable for those assistants to learn from an expert, and it made me once again realize just how important it is for assistants to have the training they need to gain skills and confidence.

Another thing that I have found with dental assistants is that, once they have confidence in a technology, they can become an influencer on the purchase of that technology and also drive adoption of it within the practice.

One of my favorite stories is from a dental assistant friend of mine who tells about how she pushed her current dentist into incorporating CEREC (Dentsply Sirona) into the practice after she had used it so much at her previous practice. Her new dentist wasn't so sure about the technology but listened to the assistant as she explained the benefit of CAD/CAM to patients and the practice's bottom line. Now, that same dentist will tell anyone who will listen that he couldn't imagine practicing without a CEREC.

Technology in our industry and practices around the country is evolving. Team members need to be doing the same, and they should be encouraged to learn as much as they can as often as they can. When they embrace technology, they are not only forging their own career path but making a bigger difference for the practice.

What steps are you taking to ensure your dental assistants are educated and also have the confidence to use and explain that technology as well? Having that confidence is a key part to assistants' growth in a practice and their development into the true leaders they can become.

If you don't know where to start, ask your assistant about his or her interest in technology and follow up with your distributor representative for some ideas on training opportunities in your area. You might be surprised just how many chances are available to easily empower your assistant while building a technology-savvy culture within your practice.


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