Pediatric dentists specialize in the treatment and maintenance of teeth for infants, children, and teenagers. As a pediatric Dental Assistant, you can work right alongside that dentist, helping young patients and teaching them how to care for their teeth properly. While working with children can be rewarding, it can also present unique challenges. Here are six helpful tips to keep in mind:
1. Use Kid-Friendly Language
Children are smart and curious, but they don’t know dental terms like you do. They won’t understand technical jargon or medical terminology. Use vocabulary they understand and explain what’s happening with kid-friendly language that’s short and to the point. To the common “what’s that?” question, provide the name of the instrument and a way to compare it to something they know. For example, you might say that the saliva ejector is like a vacuum cleaner for your mouth.
2. Conduct Proper Intake at Dental Office
Especially if it’s a new patient, do all you can to understand what might help or hinder a smooth appointment. Maybe your young visitor is excited to come to the dentist—just like mommy and daddy do. But if they’re anxious, allow the parents to provide insight. Asking questions about the child’s anxieties and concerns can help you address them before they become an issue.
3. Show and Tell What Comes Next
The dentist’s office can be a scary place, especially if it’s a first-time visit. Your young patients may not know what to expect, so it’s up to you to tell them and show them. Explain to them what’s happening, answer all their questions, and use visual tools to help them better understand. For example, you can use a model of teeth to show them what the dentist is looking at in their mouths.
4. Provide Distractions during Dentist Visits
Younger patients may need more help to stay calm and still than older children. Make sure there’s plenty in the waiting room to keep them busy before their exam such as books and puzzles. And provide distractions as they settle in by asking about school, hobbies, or their favorite singer or superhero. During their exam, be sure to pay attention to cues from your patient and help the dentist any way you can.
5. Teach Them About Oral Hygiene
Even if their parents are in the exam room, speak directly to the child when you explain how to properly care for their teeth. Use child size teeth models and a toothbrush to show them how their teeth should be brushed. If the child is over age 7, you can also show them how to floss properly. And let them give it a try! Answer any questions they have about their teeth or mouth, and then give instructions to their parents afterward.
6. Offer Positive Reinforcement to Young Dental Patients
Everyone likes praise, especially children. Throughout the visit, express how well you think they’re doing. It will reinforce their good behavior. At the end of the visit, offer a reward for getting through the visit. This could be a small toy, a healthy treat, or a reward certificate. The goal is to make them feel comfortable and pleased and make the visit as pleasant as possible, so they won’t be scared next time.
If you have good people skills and an interest in dentistry, a career as a Dental Assistant may be the right fit for you. At Charter College, we offer a Certificate in Dental Assisting that can prepare you for an entry-level career in the field. Our program can be completed in as few as 10 months through a blended learning format, which offers flexibility and convenience coupled with hands-on training. Fill out the form to learn more.