A dental assistant is on their feet all day, which can lead to physical stress. In addition, they must often stand in uncomfortable positions and use their hands to administer treatments. With patients coming in continuously, the workload can be overwhelming. Working with other people is a normal part of the job, and it can be a positive experience.
However, moments of conflict can arise that can be stressful. The best dental assistants collaborate and help each other when things get tough. But when the team dynamic becomes tense, it can be a cause for distress. Although dentistry is considered a stressful occupation, there is little data on work-related stress among dental assistants.
A previous article examined the psychological outcomes of work stress, such as job satisfaction and emotional well-being. It was revealed that the main sources of dissatisfaction among dental assistants were low incomes, lack of opportunities to develop professionally, and lack of recognition. Nearly one in five scored on a standard measure of emotional distress, indicating a cause for concern. Work stress proved to be an important predictor of job satisfaction, and work stress and job satisfaction emerged as important predictors of emotional well-being.
Social support during work showed direct and interactive effects on job satisfaction, but not on emotional well-being. Ambiguity of roles, underutilization of skills, and low self-esteem were also identified as important issues. These results have important implications for the way in which dental practice and dentistry are organized. For example, when a dental assistant starts their first job after graduating from school, they may go from feeling excited to forcing themselves to go to work every morning.
They may also feel unappreciated or overwhelmed by their level of responsibility. When tensions arise between patients and dental assistants, it can be stressful for the assistant to resolve the problem. Many dental assistants have experienced tears due to exhaustion or feeling overwhelmed by their job. To avoid and eliminate exhaustion in the dental assistant field, it's important to meet both physical and emotional needs.