Help…My Dental Assistant is Messy!

By: Ronda Holman

In a bustling dental clinic in a small town, a young dental assistant named Lisa had just joined the team. Eager to learn and help, Lisa had one glaring flaw—she was an incredibly messy dental assistant.

She didn’t organize the instruments properly, neglected sterilization throughout the day, and left rooms in disarray after cleaning. Random items like gloves, pieces of floss, and matrix bands often littered the floor, as if she didn’t even see them. 

Dr. Evans, the head dentist, was a meticulous professional who prided himself on maintaining high standards in his practice. Patients came to him not just for his skill but for the pristine environment of his clinic.

However, with Lisa on board, he noticed a drop in the clinic’s usual standards. One day, a patient complained about how messy the room was.

How to Handle a Messy Dental Assistant

Dr. Evans decided enough was enough, but wanted to handle the situation appropriately.

Keep a Record

Dr. Evans began documenting every instance of Lisa’s messiness. He noted the scattered instruments, the lack of upkeep in sterilization, and the overall disarray. 

Clear Communication

After a week of observations, he called Lisa into his office. “Lisa,” he began gently, “I can see you’re trying hard, but there are some important standards we need to maintain here.

Cleanliness and organization are crucial, not just for our efficiency, but for the safety and comfort of our patients.”

Lisa listened, feeling a mixture of embarrassment and determination. Dr. Evans then handed her a list of all the issues he had observed.

“These are the areas you need to work on,” he said. “I want you to prioritize cleanliness and organization. Whenever you enter a room, take a moment to assess it. Understand the difference between organized and messy.” 

Time & Reassurance

It took some time and weekly reminders, but Lisa began to change her ways. Dr. Evans would walk through the clinic with her, pointing out areas that needed improvement and demonstrating the correct way to organize instruments and maintain cleanliness.

Slowly but surely, Lisa started to see the benefits of a tidy work environment. With each passing week, Lisa’s efforts paid off. The instruments were always in their designated places, the rooms were spotless, and there were no more random items cluttering the floor.

Lisa realized that not only was her job easier when things were organized, but the entire clinic ran more smoothly. 

Clear Communication & Guidance Can Lead to Success for All

One day, as Lisa finished cleaning a room to perfection, she looked around and felt a sense of pride. She finally understood the importance of the standards Dr. Evans had set.

The once messy dental assistant had transformed into a model of efficiency and cleanliness. Lisa didn’t grow up in a home of organization. She had the potential but she simply needed the tools to understand and learn what it takes to be an organized dental assistant. 

The moral of the story is never give up on someone if they are messy without trying to teach them the benefits and tools to stay organized first. Setting clear guidelines and enforcing them can change bad habits and create immaculate work environments.

Keep Reading: Help…My Dental Assistant is Complaining About My Equipment!

Photo by Christina Morillo

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.