as a dental assistant, it’s critical to have an innate desire and ability to work with patients. add in a layer of working with patients who also happen to be children, and you’ll need those attributes, plus an additional set of skills to go along with them. graduates of eastern college of health vocations who work in general dental practices, and especially those who end up as assistants in orthodontic and pediatric dental practices, have the pleasure — and at times, the challenge — of working with younger patients. many of our grads have told us what a rewarding experience it can be to work with children as a pediatric dental assistant.
in pediatric dentistry, building the trust of young patients is critical to their overall experience. this relationship of trust often begins with the dental assistant. the goal is to form a bond with young patients that lasts long after the procedures are finished. so, how can you do this? whether you are student taking the dental assistant career path or someone considering going to school to become one, if you’re working with kids, it’s good to have a few tricks up your sleeves. here’s a little insight on how to manage younger patients, from tots to pre-teens.
speak their language
it’s quite common for kids to feel nervous about visiting the dentist, especially if it is their first time. the sights and sounds can be overwhelming. when working with the very young patients who may not even be able to talk yet, using nonverbal-communication, like smiling and relaxed body language, may help ease anxiousness. you can even try and make a fun game of things or get the parents involved by having them model the tasks you want them to perform, such as opening their mouth wide or smiling to show off those pearly whites.
with 6-12 year old patients, speaking with kid-friendly, less scary language can make all the difference. for instance, instead of referring to x-rays, say “a picture of your teeth” and when mentioning the drill, say special toothbrush or “spin-brush”.
as adults, when we feel nervous, we’ll read a book, watch tv or listen to music to help lower our stress level. we use them as distractions. similarly, for children between the ages of 6 and 12, using visual aids or telling a story in the dental office can be an effective distraction or behavioral-guidance technique. for the younger kids, you could offer a coloring book page featuring their favorite character. a dentist we are quite familiar with has his dental assistant squeeze the hand of the patient firmly, just as he is about to give an injection. the child is distracted by the sensation and hardly realizes they have been given the shot. distraction is a great tool in the dental assistant’s arsenal.
at eastern college of health vocations, we take pride in providing our students with real-world dental assistant training. whether you or not choose to pursue a career as a pediatric dental assistant, our training can give you the skills you need to confidently enter the workforce as a dental assistant. if you have any questions regarding programs, facilities or tuition, feel free to give us a call. you can reach our little rock campus at 501-232-0378 or our new orleans campus at 504-736-0654. prefer email? request more information or schedule a campus visit through this form.