What It’s Like to Work in Pediatric Dentistry as a Dental Assistant

HealthcareFebruary 18, 2021

Remember when you lost your first tooth? February 28 is National Tooth Fairy Day, and you could call those who work in pediatric dentistry an important part of her team. Good oral healthcare starts with a child’s first visit to the dentist, and it’s often a Dental Assistant who helps put them at ease as they climb into the chair and open wide. 

Caring for children's teeth, mouth and gums can require different skillsets than adult dentistry. If you're considering becoming a Dental Assistant within this rewarding dental specialty, there are a few things you should know. 

You Need to Be Good with Kids

When young children visit the dentist’s office, they’re often nervous. Dental Assistants need to take extra time to help them relax during the visit, explaining every step before they take it and weaving in some fun. You might start the visit by getting their help in counting their teeth. Rename your instruments, so they sound friendly. For example, introduce the saliva ejector as "Mister Thirsty." And be patient with your patient. Remember, the goal is to help build their confidence and lessen their worries about coming to see the dentist. A bad dental experience at a young age can influence a patient’s outlook on going to the dentist for years to come, so it’s important to minimize their fear and help them understand the importance of taking care of their teeth. 

You Need to Understand Their Unique Needs

Children’s teeth can be more susceptible to cavities than adult teeth and losing them is part of a child’s growing process. Pediatric Dental Assistants will often focus on applying treatments that help prevent decay, such as fluoride treatments and sealants. When it comes to children’s teeth, preventing cavities is much more manageable than filling them due to poor hygiene practices or their love of fruit juice, which can also contribute to the development of cavities. 

You Should Have the Heart of a Teacher

When it comes to caring for their teeth, most kids don’t fully understand the correct ways to brush and floss their teeth. As a result, they will need lots of guidance and instruction to help them learn. Part of the role of a pediatric Dental Assistant will be to teach basic activities: a step that Dental Assistants in adult practices don't need to do. Again, make it fun with kid-friendly tools and flavors. And explain why it's crucial. The great habits you help them build today can last their lifetime. 

As a dental assistant, your reward will be knowing that you’ve played an important role in establishing good oral healthcare habits that can last a lifetime. 

A career in pediatric dentistry usually requires on-the-job training. Once you earn your Dental Assistant license, you will be able to specialize by gaining experience working for a pediatric dentist. Ready to get started? Fortis has programs that can help you take the first step toward joining the field of Dentistry. To schedule a tour at one of our campuses, visit the Dental page on the Fortis website, or call (855) 436-7847 for more information.