March is a hopeful month, it marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The long, sunshine filled days are an irresistible motivator for a fresh start! It is also a significant month for the dental community. Every year since 1977, the first full week in March has been designated by the American Dental Assistance Association to celebrate Dental Assistants Recognition Week. This year the celebration will be held March 7 – 13, highlighting the theme “Dental Assistants – Our Heart Goes Into Every Smile” which acknowledges the growing importance of dentistry’s role in health care and the responsibilities of dental assistants.

Dental Assistants Recognition Week is not only a time to celebrate but also a time to reflect on the intriguing history behind this ever evolving profession. It is difficult to envision the profession of dentistry in 1855, when Dr. Charles Edmund Kells, noted dentist and dental X-ray pioneer, asked his wife, Malvina, to assist him in his dental practice. Hand in hand this husband and wife team created the role of dental assistant and “their hearts went into every smile”!

While many aspects of the duties of dental assistant have changed since 1855, one factor remains constant – dental assistants are an integral part of the dental team. The  duties of a dental assistant are among the most comprehensive and varied in the dental office. The dental assistant performs many tasks requiring both interpersonal and technical skills. Although state regulations vary, responsibilities may include performing office management tasks, taking and developing x-rays, serving as infection control officer, assisting the dentist during a variety of treatment procedures and helping patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatment. The demand for dental assistants is constantly growing along with the opportunity to explore training programs for anyone interested in pursuing this rewarding career. 

The Kentucky Oral Health Coalition (KOHC) understands the important role dental assistants play in maintaining and improving the oral health of their patients. If you are a dental assistant, KOHC values your input and invites you to become part of a collective voice to make a true impact on oral health in Kentucky by becoming a member of the coalition.

Everyone can participate in this March celebration! The American Dental Association (ADA) Council on Dental Practice is encouraging dentists and their teams to acknowledge the dedication and contributions of their dental assistants. Patients and community members can join dental professionals in celebrating Dental Assistant Recognition Week with a thank you and a smile that comes from the heart.