Dental assistants are the most numerous member of the dental team in Australia, responsible for many clinical and non-clinical duties. Despite this, dental assistants are not registered and regulated in the same manner as their clinical colleagues within the dental profession. In this article, the authors argue that this is an unacceptable situation within the Australian dental context. In the examination of events within the profession both within Australia and overseas, it becomes apparent that this is an untenable position with regards to promoting the safety of the public. The current stance towards dental assistants is often perpetuated by a dental profession whose motives would not seem to be free from issues of professional dominance. Dental assistants may also be an essential division of the dental profession in providing culturally competent, economically viable and sustainable oral healthcare to those communities that are traditionally difficult to access.