What Do Dental Assistants Wear?

Updated: Jul 17

What is appropriate attire for dental assistants to wear in the work place? What is the most common and the reason why?


healthcare professionals in scrubs


What do dental assistants wear in the office?

Dental assistants most commonly wear scrubs at work but in actuality they do have the flexibility to wear whatever they want within reason. Assistants have the flexibility to do so because in addition to what they wear to work, they can always wear a PPE (personal protective equipment) gown over their work attire.


The PPE gown will protect the dental assistant from spills, splashes, saliva, and blood. This will not only prevent contamination but also keep the worker safe from harm.


What can they wear under the PPE gowns?

It is completely acceptable to be in business casual or regular office work wear is ok as well. The only clothes that are prohibited are inappropriate clubbing attire such as short black dresses or juicy track suits.


Even though all dental assistants have the option to wear other types of clothing, most of them opt to wear scrubs. They can still wear a PPE gown over the scrubs as well!



Why do dental assistants wear scrubs the most often?

Most dental assistants wear scrubs as their primary work uniform because it is the most practical option. Scrubs offer a simplified uniform look for the entire dental office. It is an easy dress code to follow because when followed the doctors don't have to critique or evaluate what their assistants are wearing on a daily basis. The scrubs receive automatic approval.


The scrubs also project an image of professionalism upon the patients. Patients know and are use to seeing healthcare staff wearing scrubs so when they see the assistants in scrubs, they automatically know that they are an employee there. The public perception of scrubs is very positive because people correlate it with medical workers.


Comfort wise, scrubs cannot be beat. They're often lightweight and very easy to move in, which adds to their popularity. They're not stiff and rigid like office wear. You'll often hear comments about how office workers wished they could just be in scrubs like their doctors.


In addition, scrubs were designed to be durable so they can handle all types of cleaning procedures that you may subject them to. They'll make it through hot washes with no problems. The durability was an important design factor because they need to be cleaned regularly in order to prevent contamination and infection in healthcare settings. In fact, our own doctors have some pairs of scrubs which are over 10 years old and they're still intact. That just goes to show how durable they are.


Last but not least, they are cheap to replace if torn or ripped. A very basic set of scrubs, which includes the top and bottom can be bought for under $25. Although the more trendy brand name scrubs can run you over $100.


History of scrubs

Historically, surgeons wore street clothes to the hospital and also performed surgeries in the same clothes. That all changed in the 1940s when more rigid rules were adopted for sterility and infection control. Scrubs were created primarily for surgeons to wear before they entered surgery. They would switch out of their street clothes and don on clean scrubs in order to prevent cross contamination and infection from outside sources. This process of switching out their everyday clothes and putting on scrubs were termed "scrubbing in". That was also where the name scrubs came from.


Originally scrubs were mostly made of 100% cotton in fabric but over the years due to recent trends, other materials have been incorporated to make it a more comfortable fit. An example would be one of the trendy modern brands, Figs which are composed of 3 fabrics.

  • 72% poly

  • 21% rayon

  • 7% spandex


6 people wearing fig scrubs

These more modern and trendy brands have improved the looks over the traditional more boxy fit of scrubs. The new scrubs are more fitted and some of them barely even look like scrubs but that is the trend.


Alternative brands of scrubs

  • Figs

  • Jaanu

  • Cherokee

  • Healing hands

  • Mediclo

  • Koi

  • Grey's anatomy

  • Wonderwink

  • HeartSoul

  • Moxie

  • Dagacci

The fashion industry has invaded healthcare and healthcare workers are elated. Nowadays, they're even happier to wear scrubs and prefer to do so over all other types of uniforms.



What color scrubs do dental assistants wear?

There isn't a required dental assistant scrub color unless the dental practice that they work in specifically requests for it. Most offices will let the dental assistants pick out whatever scrub color they want as long as it is scrubs. Although there are some work places that want to take the word "uniform" to the next level and require all staff to be in the same color and same brand.


Most hospitals have their staff wearing either surgical green, ciel blue, or plain white. Most of the nurses are in white, regular hospital staff are in blue, and surgical assistants in green.



Accessories

Scrubs cover the tops and bottoms for the appearance of dental assistants but there are still accessories such as jewelry and shoes.


Shoes

Most assistants are wearing sneakers as footwear because they're the most comfortable. They're often on their feet and running from room to room to clean the rooms and assist for restorative procedures. This means that most people will opt for comfortable shoes.


In lieu of sneakers, there are also comfortable brands of shoes.

  • Crocs

  • Clarks

  • Cerrell

  • Dansko

The only requirement for shoes is that they must be closed toe and not open toe shoes. This is a safety precaution in case you drop anything sharp onto your foot. An open toe shoe will leave your toes wide open to injury.


Jewelry

It is recommended that dental staff minimize the amount of jewelry that they wear because they are potential sources of contamination. Rings, necklaces, and bracelets can easily pick up dirt, blood, saliva, and various other contaminants.



Overall appearance

In general, you should dress at your best discretion but maintain a neat appearance. Well kept hair, no long nails, and avoid strong perfumes. It is just more practical to do so because when it gets busy, you don't have time to fuss over small things!


Aside from that you can dress however you want. There are no best scrubs for dental assistants... there is only what is best for you so go experiment and find out which brand of scrubs works the best for you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our long island city dental office.





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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!