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Inaugural Professional Dental Assisting conference is a success

July 1, 2006
At dental shows throughout the United States, dental assistants are often overlooked by show organizers and exhibit hall vendors.
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At dental shows throughout the United States, dental assistants are often overlooked by show organizers and exhibit hall vendors. Recognizing this problem, PennWell Corporation, the parent company of Dental Economics, decided it was time for dental assistants to not only be given kudos for the vital role they play in the dental practice, but also to have a conference dedicated specifically to them and their needs.

The inaugural Professional Dental Assisting (PDA), sponsored by Dental Equipment & Materials, a sister magazine of Dental Economics. conference in Indianapolis was considered a huge success by organizers and attendees alike. More than 300 dental assistants from 28 states converged on the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis from May 11-13 with a common goal ­- to become more proficient in their jobs and to network with colleagues. Attendees included both front- and back-office dental assistants, as well as dental students and office administrators.

Keynote sessions by Dr. Cathy Jameson and Mary Govoni, CDA, RDA, RDH, MBA, were the cornerstones of the conference. Also making an impact were individual sessions that included effective temporary restorations, essential Spanish for the dental office, perfect payment arrangements, how to improve front desk communication, an overview of whitening products, and many others. In all, 23 conferences and workshops were presented during the three-day meeting.

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“It was time for a conference like this to be developed,” Dr. Jameson said. “All of us recognize how the dental office just wouldn’t function without dental assistants. They deserve a meeting that addresses their jobs and allows them to grow professionally.”

With support from the American Dental Assistants Association, the Dental Assisting National Board, and the American Association of Dental Office Managers, PDA combined workshops and lectures with networking opportunities. Dental assistants were given the chance to interact during meal functions and an off-site event at Jillian’s. They also had the opportunity to visit with exhibitors, who acknowledge the importance of dental assistants.

“We know that dental assistants have a great deal of buying power and influence in the dental office,” said Therese Mainella, director of marketing for Dux Dental, sponsor of two sessions and a booth in the exhibit hall. “We were very pleased with the crowd and the excitement about a conference that was just for them. By Dux being at this meeting, the dental assistants realized that we know they are very important to the success of their practice and our business as well.”

“What we tried to do with the inaugural PDA was to blend work and fun, as well as reinforce how strongly we believe in dental assistants and what they do to make the office succeed,” added Lyle Hoyt, vice president and group publisher for PennWell. “We heard nothing but positive comments about our first PDA, but I also know we can make the conference bigger and better in future years.”

Plans are already under way for next year’s PDA conference, set for May 10-12, 2007, at the Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Courses are being planned that will benefit office managers as well as front- and back-office dental assistants. Information on the 2007 meeting is available by visiting

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