The nicest/best things a dentist has ever said to a dental assistant

These are some of the responses to the question “What is the nicest/best thing a dentist has ever said to a dental assistant?” that Kevin Henry asked and published in the Dental Assistinig Digest.  Take the time to say something nice to your assistant and watch them shine!

Thank you.

You are irreplaceable. Great job!

At my last yearly review my boss said, “I can’t think of anything you could do to improve your performance, you’re awesome.” That was really
wonderful to hear.

“I really appreciate what you do.”

That I am an asset to the team!

You are wonderful, and you are the best. You are one of the
smartest people

I’ve met, and you will succeed at whatever you pursue.

That my work is detailed, focused, and patients feel comfortable
in my care.

“You’re the best.”

You have good oral hygiene.

After I complete my work each day the doctor says THANK YOU.

I could not have made it through this day without you. Thank you.

That I am one of the best assistants they have ever had.

You are the best assistant I’ve ever had.

I can’t get through the day without you being here because I don’t know where

anything is.

The doctor told me, “Perfect!” during a procedure.

You have made my job easier, thank you for all your hard work.

You’re the best!

That I was the best assistant he had ever worked with in 10 years and asked if I

had ever considered dental school.

I could not do my job without you.

He said I am a very loyal employee.

After all these years (28) of working together at chairside I can’t imagine what

my life and practice would have been like without you.


Thank you, I appreciated your help today. Keep up the excellent work.

That I was an excellent assistant!

I’ll explain this to you.

I can’t do this without you.

He really likes my work.

I was the best dental assistant he ever worked with!

You’re the best employee I’ve ever had. You’re the most diligent dental assistant I’ve ever had.

That he was thankful that he could trust me over some other employees and thanked me for being problem free.

Nice X-rays.

“That is just beautiful,” and “Thank you.”

You are doing such a great job and I value you.

You know more than some dentists who are graduating from dental school.

Thank you.

You are my most honest and hard-working employee.

My present dentist said, “I’m so sorry you’re going through such an awful experience. (My dad was dying) Don’t worry about your paycheck,
I’ll pay you for whatever time you need. Take as long as you need.” (He did
just that and he came to the funeral.)

You have finished.

You are an asset to our practice.

“You’re an exceptional dental assistant, above the rest,” “Your good qualities far surpass any negative ones that you may have and you are
excellent with the patients.”

“I can’t manage to work without you.”

The only positive comment I ever got from a dentist was when I was
in school. A dentist exclaimed, “Who took these X-rays?” I told her that I
did. She said they were perfect X-rays, the best she’d ever seen.

“She is the brains of this outfit.”

That I was being wasted at the front desk, and I should be assisting.
(This dentist rarely gave compliments, and this was actually a huge




Create and Keep Your Dream Team

Keep your patients coming back!

What is the key element to keeping your patients coming back to your dental practice? Your team! They are the backbone of your practice and they are the “face” of your practice. They manage every phase of the patient experience, from answering the phone, answering questions, delivering care, and saying goodbye at the end of the visit. Your team keeps your practice running smoothly, your systems working, your patients happy, and the dentist happy. This will not happen without a team that is working together with no drama. Here are 5 tips to ensure you have your dream team.

1. Don’t hire the first warm body with an impressive resume.
Your hectic schedule and the time you devote to patient care are not an excuse. Invest in finding the “right” person for your practice. Without the right people on your team, you will constantly hire and rehire. This makes your team unable to focus on delivering the level of care you expect. We recommend holding a “Job Orientation”. This 2 hour meeting will allow the cream to rise to the top, and the superior candidates to standout. It takes the pile of received resumes and allows you to see who they are as compared to all the others. This will determine who is given your valuable time in a formal interview.

2. Use behavioral based interviewing questions and check references
There are two terrible places to sit during an interview. In front of the desk as the interviewee wondering what is going to happen next, and behind the desk as the interviewer wondering the same thing. The best applicants will be interviewing you as well, don’t show up unprepared, unkempt, or disorganized. Plan the questions you will ask to help you understand their willingness, emotional maturity, manageability, ability to prioritize, and personality. Really listen to their response, don’t focus on your next question. Check references and their previous salary. Realize that some people interview well and become someone else on the job. Let the “Jekyll and Hyde” hire go sooner rather than later.

3. Hold Performance Reviews regularly
High performing team members want feedback. What holds you back from helping them analyze how they are doing on the job? Have performance reviews at least annually and in a way that makes sense for you. Everyone in one week, or on one day, spaced out throughout the year, or on each team members’ anniversary date. Make the team accountable for scheduling the reviews. Set a deadline for their portion of the review to be turned in to you a week prior to your review with them. Start now to define your system for a formal annual performance review. Know some team members will need more than annual review. Coaching the team to improved performance and ensuring everyone is working toward practice goals, is the priority for the leader of the practice.

4. The “Team Integrity Agreement”
This commitment between all members of the team consists of appropriate and acceptable behavior standards for the practice. It includes statements such as: I will treat all patient information in a confidential manner, I will turn off or silence my cell phone during business hours, I will arrive at work on time and be a dependable employee, I will clock out when I am no longer working, I will use the internet for business purposes only. This creates a standard set of expectations for everyone. The Doctor included. When behavior is outside of the agreement, it is easy to discuss because everyone agreed to the standards. Ignoring unacceptable behavior only generates confusion amongst the team and passive aggressive behavior from the dentist or other team members.

5. Develop teamwork
Schedule team events outside of the practice. Do a murder mystery with your team, decorate Valentine’s as a group and have your patients vote on the “best”, go to a sporting event, amusement park, or dental meeting. Be involved in your community by sponsoring or participating in a local event. Go bowling or play softball. Do something together. This allows people to get to know one another on a personal level and have fun!

The interest you take in your team member’s lives outside of the practice is given back. Take each individual team member out to lunch twice a year. Talk about them as part of the practice and about their lives, what’s going well, what they want to see different, how their job impacts their life outside. With genuine curiosity and devoted time, you will get a return on your investment in the form of a committed and dedicated team.

To build a tight knit team takes time, energy, and effort. Once you have a strong team, everyone reaps the rewards. Better interactions with patients, feeling like the team is helping to achieve the practice vision rather than you pulling the team along, and less stress. Follow these 5 tips and create your dream team. If you have questions or need more information, contact us!

Building Trust

Trust is essential to all healthy relationships. Without trust, you, your team, your patients and your family will suffer.  The author and speaker, Jon Gordon has shared his thoughts on the 11 ways to build trust:

  1. Say what you are going to do and then do what you say!
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Frequent, honest communication builds trust. Poor communication is one of the key reasons marriages and work relationships fall apart.
  3. Trust is built one day, one interaction at a time, and yet it can be lost in a moment because of one poor decision. Make the right decision.
  4. Value long term relationships more than short term success.
  5. Sell without selling out. Focus more on your core principles and customer loyalty than short term commissions and profits.
  6. Trust generates commitment, commitment fosters teamwork; and teamwork delivers results. When people trust their team members they not only work harder, but they work harder for the good of the team.
  7. Be honest! My mother always told me to tell the truth. She would say, “If you lie to me then we can’t be a strong family. So don’t ever lie to me even if the news isn’t good.”
  8. Become a coach. Coach your customers (patients). Coach your team at work. Guide people, help them be better and you will earn their trust.
  9. Show people you care about them. When people know you care about their interest as much as your own they will trust you. If they know you are out for yourself, their internal alarm sounds and they will say to themselves “watch out for that person.”
  10. Always do the right thing. We trust those who live, walk and work with integrity.
  11. When you don’t do the right thing, admit it. Be transparent, authentic and willing to share your mistakes and faults. When you are vulnerable and have nothing to hide you radiate trust.


Most practices we work with believe in continuous personal and professional growth. They realize they and their team have lots more potential to unlock.  So…ask yourself:

How do you want to grow personally?
Are you a better person today than you were yesterday?
What are you doing to get your team to grow personally?
Are you learning something everyday? What? Is it positive?
What can you do to help your team better understand the practice mission and vision?
How are you planning to grow professionally this year?
How are you challenging and stretching yourself?

These are not easy questions, most require thought and introspection. Really think about it, “Are you a better person today versus yesterday? How?” It is a challenge, it means focusing on personal growth as much as professional growth or the latest clinical courses and procedures. Improving your clinical skills or learning a new procedure to add to your mix of services certainly helps growth and production in the practice. Personal change is by far harder, and it is what will put your practice head and shoulders above the rest. Numbers are important. How you and the team feel about yourselves and what you are contributing to your community, is far more rewarding. We challenge you to spend the time you need to get your team onboard and focus everyone on working on improving themselves. Growth in production will happen naturally as a result.

10 Tips from Training Camp

10 Tips from Training Camp by Jon Gordon
“I think a lot of people spend their life being average or good at something, but they don’t strive to be great. The best of the best not only know what they want, but they want it more.”
“We cannot measure desire in terms of merely thought and wishes. The best not only do the things that others won’t do and invest the time others won’t invest, but they do so with passion and intent to get better. The best are never satisfied with where they are.” Continue reading “10 Tips from Training Camp”

Managerial Courage

This is a term I ran across recently and I really like it. It is a leadership trait. Without it a practice will suffer with teamwork issues or general malaise. Without teamwork and high positive energy, practices produce less.

Let’s look at the characteristics present when you do not have managerial courage.
• Unwilling to take a strong stand when one is required
• Reluctant to deal with difficult issues regarding teamwork
• Can’t give tough feedback, and would prefer someone else do it
• Wants to believe if you ignore the bad behavior, it will go away
• Meetings are few and far between and conflict is avoided
• Allows others to take the lead with the hope that they will not be challenged
• Believes they are suffering because of the stupidity of others
• Blames themselves and decides “it’s all my fault, if only I were a better leader”

Does this sound like anyone you know?

Managerial courage is what you need to get you through the day with integrity and honesty. Unfortunately, we have heard too many stories about how doctors hid out in their offices in turtle mode, and stopped talking when they should have started. We believe you can be reflexive in your thinking about a teamwork frustration or reflective. If you are hostile, indignant, resentful, depressed, or feeling hopeless, you are reacting to the situation in a reflexive, or people focused, way. We suggest focusing on determining the reason for the behavior of the others, be curious, be concerned. Open a dialog and search for a solution. Managerial courage looks for solutions not destruction.

Here are some steps you can take the next time you need managerial courage:
• Express your appreciation for the relationship you have. You would not waste the time talking about it if you did not value the team member in some way. This is not appreciating the tasks they do as part of their job description. It sounds something like: “We work closely together, our relationship is important to me and I know honesty and trust is vital to both of us, that’s why I thought it was important to have this talk.”
• State facts not your interpretation or assumption about the behavior. “I noticed … or I saw…”
• Ask the person for help in understanding their behavior
• Move to the future (sometimes people get stuck endlessly talking about the behavior) and state what you would like to see differently.
• Negotiate to solve the problem or state the consequences.

Since some conflicts and frustrations may have “gotten your goat”, make sure you are in the right frame of mind to have this discussion. While not all behavior is innocent, many conflicts are caused by misunderstandings or problems with systems, roles, or inadequate information. The lack of skill, insight, or courage can all be resolved. An exercise to do to get yourself in the right frame of mind is to finish the following phrase 3 times: “Well at least it is not …”

Work on your managerial courage for the betterment of your practice and for the betterment of your home life. When issues are not resolved they go home with you. We believe your family and your outside personal life deserve unencumbered time. What is the first step you could take to improve your managerial courage?

Dental Assistant Recognition Week

March 6-12, 2011 has been designated Dental Assistant Recognition Week by the American Dental Assistants Association, the American Dental Association, the Canadian Dental Association, and the Canadian Dental Assistants Association. This is the perfect time to recognize and acknowledge the contribution this valuable team member makes to your practice. In every practice we work with there are versatile, willing, customer service oriented team members. Many times it is the assistant that goes the extra distance to make the day work out or the patient feel special. During this week plan a celebration for and about your great assisting team members. Let them know what they do for you, the practice and your patients. Remember; what gets rewarded, gets done.

Become your Team’s Dream Manager

We have all heard the saying “A practice’s greatest asset is its people”. We propose for 2010 that you understand your team from the perspective of their dreams. What are they hoping and saving for? Team members lose focus and disengage from their jobs when they do not see how their job connects to the things they have a passion for or contributes to their goals. Reignite the enthusiasm of those you lead by understanding their dreams. Whether it is to save for a down payment for a house, pay for their son’s travel hockey team membership, plan for a special vacation, or get out of debt, by understanding each team member’s individual personal goals and helping them plan to achieve the goals, you create a bond to your team member and a compelling reason for their work in your practice.

What will your first step be toward understanding their dreams and participating as a dream manager in your practice?

Dentists are Dangerous?? What do you think of this article? Are your patients reading things like this?

Dentists are Dangerous
by Patricia Aiken

An internist at Kaiser Permanente offered the following explanation after drawing two semi-circles on the examination table paper. “This represents your mouth” pointing to the first semi-circle. “We don’t know much about it. We pretty much leave it to the dentists. This is the rest of your body,” pointing to the other semi-circle. “This is what we know about.” How convenient. 60 to 80 percent of health is determined by what is going on in the mouth and mainstream medicine doesn’t have a clue or, more accurately, doesn’t want a clue. They are making too much money on the result. Continue reading “Dentists are Dangerous?? What do you think of this article? Are your patients reading things like this?”