One of the many benefits dental assisting can bring is variety. Not only can you perform a wide range of duties in your office, but you also have numerous career options. Many dental assistants enjoy working at specialty practices, where they can expand their dentistry knowledge. According to DANB’s most recent Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction report, about one-third of dental assistants work in specialty practices. Among that group, about 25% work in a pediatric dental office, making it one of the most popular specialties.
“I have worked in a pediatric practice for over 25 years, and I love helping kids feel safe and enjoy their visit so they can have a lifelong positive experience in a dental setting,” shares Deborah.
Here are some of the top reasons being a pediatric dental assistant is so rewarding.
Having fun and laughs
Getting to work with children every day can make work fun and full of laughs for pediatric dental assistants. Young ones have a sense of innocence and curiosity about visiting the dentist, and they’re often amazed at all the equipment and instruments. In a way, dental assistants get to play the role of a teacher, using kid-friendly language, pictures, and even songs to explain what various tools do and how the dentist helps children have bright, healthy smiles.
Plus, you never know what kids are going to say or do!
“Kids are so fun,” says Kimberly. “They make every day interesting, and I never get bored!”
Many kids are anxious about visiting the dentist. Often, it’s a fear of the unknown. Kids, especially when they’re very young, have little to no experience in a dental office and don’t know what to expect! Dental assistants know how to help calm children down, make them feel comfortable and cared for, and teach them why there’s nothing to be afraid of — which can allow appointments and procedures to go smoothly.
“I like to make up fun words for different instruments to calm kids who are nervous,” shares Ariel.
This can also help build trust with children and even make a difference in whether they look forward to future dental visits. Kimberly says helping calm patients down is particularly rewarding since she also experienced anxiety about visiting the dentist when she was a child.
“I was a very nervous kid at the dentist, so calming my little patients and helping them overcome their fear of the dentist is always a great feeling of accomplishment,” she explains.
When a nervous child gets through an appointment, it’s a moment of relief and joy not only for them and their parents — but also for the dental assistant!
“They are so proud when they finish strong — and we are, too!” says Deena.
Setting a lifelong foundation
Dental assistants are knowledgeable and excellent at communicating. As a pediatric dental assistant, those skills are particularly important! Pediatric dental assistants help educate children on the importance of dental health and establishing good oral hygiene habits.
When kids learn about brushing their teeth, flossing, and eating healthy at a young age, it’s more likely to stick with them for life and reduce their long-term risk of developing cavities, gum disease, and other oral health conditions. Children may also find it fascinating that their dental health can impact them in other ways, such as helping to keep their heart healthy.
“Teaching young minds the fundamentals of taking care of their teeth is so fulfilling,” says Mikala. “Seeing my patients happy and having fun at the dentist is also rewarding!”
Seeing special moments
For many pediatric dental assistants, the most rewarding aspect of the job is getting to see kids grow up and reach various milestones, from losing their first tooth to getting their braces removed. Over time, dental assistants can build strong bonds with their young patients and their families.
“Some of the best moments are when parents of young ones request to have me as their dental assistant each time they visit, and the kiddos run and give me hugs when they come into the office,” says Stacie.
Dental assistants who have been in the profession for many years may even see multiple generations of the same family.
“I have been doing this for over 30 years and worked for the same dentist the entire time,” shares Jody. “It’s been a joy watching our first patients grow up and bring their children in to see us.”
Read more: 3 tips for managing pediatric patients