We're shining the spotlight on Chantelle M., Dental Assistant at Cor-Dent Dental Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We discuss what inspired her to pursue a career in dentistry, treating patients like family, and the importance of always being one step ahead.
Tell us about your background — why did you choose this career, and how long have you been with Cor-Dent Dental Centre?
Unfortunately, I wasn't blessed with the greatest teeth, which may be due to not having fluoride in our water. I spent a lot of my time at the dental office, but surprisingly, I enjoyed it and thought it looked like a fun place to work. Those experiences in the office inspired me to pursue a career in the field. I started working at Cor-Dent 18 years ago and I’ve been here ever since.
What do you enjoy most about being a Dental Assistant?
I really enjoy interacting with our patients. Since I've been at the practice for so many years, I know all of the families well, and it's incredible to still regularly see patients I treated as children. They've almost become like family to us.
What skills are essential to being a successful Dental Assistant?
Being quick on your feet and a good multitasker is essential. There's no downtime, and you're always busy, which is why I love this job.
Do you have a favourite patient or practice story?
We have a family that has been coming to our office for years. The daughter, now in her 30s, had a bike accident, which unfortunately turned into an emergency Saturday appointment. We had to extract her tooth and perform a root canal, and she was toothless with a flipper. Not even a month later, the dad had a hockey incident, which resulted in him also losing his front tooth. Both accidents happened just ahead of a family vacation in Mexico. They sent us a family photo from the trip, and each family member had blacked out their front teeth to match. I thought it was so cute!
What's the best career advice you've ever received, and what advice would you give to those thinking about joining the industry?
It's important to be one step ahead and in the mindset of, "What am I going to do next?" But most importantly, always put the patients and their care ahead of everything else.
What's one of the most impactful life lessons you have learned and how has it influenced your professional career?
You have to be honest and accept responsibility, especially with patients. For example, if you accidentally labelled the wrong date on a crown, owning up to the mistake and apologizing for the inconvenience will prove beneficial. I guarantee the patient will understand more if you're honest.
What is the best advice or guidance you have ever received, and how do you apply it in your professional life?
Always strive to have an excellent work ethic. If there's time to lean, there's time to clean!