Importance of Communication & Respect in Dental Teams: From the Perspective of a Dental Assistant

Interviewer: Tanya Sue Maestas, DDS
Interviewee: Ronda Holman
Edited By: Candy Velez – CRDH, BSDH

Today, we explore the vital role played by dental assistants, shedding light on the often-unnoticed significance of effective communication and respect within dental teams.

Our guest, Ronda Holman, shares her experiences and insights, emphasizing the impact these factors can have on the overall success of a dental practice.

The Pitfalls of Poor Communication

According to Ronda, one of the most common mistakes made within dental teams is a lack of communication. She stresses the need for clear and open lines of communication to avoid misunderstandings and prevent mistakes.

This is why the morning huddle is a big deal. An effective morning huddle allows all team members to communicate before the day starts, which helps streamline the day.

Still, sometimes, there are breakdowns in communication, and Ronda highlights the challenges faced when communication breaks down.

She recalls a miscommunication that led to a missed postoperative X-ray, underscoring the importance of clear instructions. Holman advocates for clarity in communication, stating,

“Just being clear… ‘Bob is in op three and needs a bitewing after we cement this crown on. Can you do that? Yes, or No?’ And it takes out so much drama that accumulates with poor communication skills.”

Building Better Dental Teams

Holman believes that building better dental teams starts with treating each other as human beings by showing empathy and respect.

Drawing from her military background, she emphasizes respect for one another, irrespective of titles and positions. Holman’s perspective is grounded in a deep understanding of human connections, creating a solid foundation for effective teamwork.

Dr. Tanya-Sue Maestas, the podcast host, agrees, stating,

“Respect is due to you as an assistant. Respect is due to me as a doctor. And it’s great to show that example to your patients as well. It shows camaraderie and teamwork.”

The Consequences of Poor Leadership

Ronda shares a troubling experience from her past, highlighting the devastating impact of poor leadership.

She recounts an incident with an oral surgeon in the military whose lack of communication and aggressive behavior deeply affected the entire team.

Ronda explains that this oral surgeon expected things without communicating his needs and one day he got so angry, that he hurled a pencil at a dental assistant, and upon impact, the pencil pierced her skin, leaving the lead tip embedded in her arm.

This woman left her career and never returned. This story illustrates the negative consequences poor leadership can have on team members, influencing their job satisfaction and overall perception of the dental profession. Dr. Maestas underscores the significance of addressing this issue, stating,

“If you’re mean to your team, fix it… It’s a you problem, not a them problem. You’re the leader.”

Conclusion and Future Outlook

The conversation between Holman and Dr. Maestas underscores the importance of effective communication and respect within dental teams.

It highlights the potential consequences of poor communication and leadership, as well as the positive impact that clear communication and mutual respect can have on the overall success of a dental practice.

Moving forward, dental professionals must prioritize effective communication and cultivate a culture of respect within their teams.

This can be achieved through regular team huddles, clear and direct communication, and genuine understanding and respect for one another as individuals.

By doing so, dental teams can create a supportive and harmonious work environment that benefits the team members and the patients they serve.

Thought Leadership Summary

In the unspoken middle of dentistry, effective communication and mutual respect are the cornerstones of a thriving dental practice.

By embracing these values, dental teams can forge stronger connections, deliver exceptional patient care, and foster a harmonious work environment.

The key lies in recognizing the human aspect of dentistry, where clear communication and respect create a foundation for success.

Until next time, keep communicating, respecting, and fueling your dental dreams with understanding!

Ronda Holman

Ronda Holman

Ronda Holman found her passion for dental assisting while in the Air Force. She assisted in oral surgery, general dentistry, and ended her four-year service as a prophy tech, the military’s version of a dental hygienist. She married and spent 13 years traveling the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Each time Ronda relocated she got the opportunity to work in a new dental office, where she picked up pearls that have helped her become an expert in educating dental assistants. Her interests are immediate denture/partial fabrication, CEREC technology, patient education, and striving for optimal chairside skills. Ronda believes that every dental assistant has the potential to be a rock star assistant if given the right tools and guidance.